Impressions of Korea – Busan: Visiting the Yi Sun-Shin Monument

We arrived in Busan in the afternoon of August 11. Busan is located in the southeastern corner of Korea, as it is surrounded by mountains and is flat in the middle, resembling a kettle (iron pot) from an aerial view. During the Korean War (known in China as the War of Resistance against the US and Korea) it was once the accompanying capital of Korea. In recent years some parliamentarians have proposed moving the capital to Busan, given that Seoul (now called Suerseoul) is too close to North Korea and under threat of force from the North, but the motion was not passed in a referendum. However, its position in South Korea is extremely important. It is where our travels in Korea begin and end.

Busan is separated from Japan by water in the south-east of Korea, and historically, it was a bridgehead for Japan’s invasion of Korea and then China. It has been the scene of many wars. A bronze statue of General Yi Sun-sin, the hero of the Imjin War, is located in Yongdusan Park. Wearing a bronze helmet on his head and a sword at his waist, he stands on a high watchtower, watching the southeast, as if he were the patron saint of the whole of Korea.

I looked at the statue with great admiration and read some vague history from the mixed Chinese and Korean writing on the statue: on April 14, 1592 (the 20th year of the Ming Dynasty), Japan launched the “Imjin Japanese Rebellion”, which shocked the world, in order to annex Korea. At the request of the King of Korea, China’s Ming dynasty sent troops to help and began a seven-year war against Japan. The war ended with the ultimate victory of China and the defeat of Japan. General Li had used Chungmu as a stronghold against Toyotomi Hideyoshi. During the battle he invented the ‘turtle ship’, which was wrapped in copper and greatly improved his fighting ability. The massive War Hall and the Chungnyeolsa Temple, dedicated to the General’s tablet, were built in 1603 to commemorate his achievements and are within walking distance from the ferry terminal. As far as I know, in 1894, the 100,000 soldiers of the Sheng Family, the most advanced Manchu army in China, who were sent to Pusan and Inchon, were all killed in the battle against the Japanese and buried in the countryside, and there is no sign of Korean remembrance of them.

I am a descendant of the Sheng family, and I was very upset to see this. And now that the smoke of war has long since cleared, peace doves fly freely around the square at the foot of General Lee, playing with the visitors. A young Korean girl actually held the pigeon in her arms, rubbing her pink cheek against its feathers and murmuring to it. The pigeon did not flutter or scratch in her arms, cooing peacefully. May the Korean people be forever free from war and have today every day


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