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Memory of the World

Inscribed Korean Memory of the World
Nanjung Ilgi : War Diary of Admiral Yi Sun-sin


-   Nanjung Ilgi (War Diary of Admiral Yi Sun-sin), the handwritten journal of Admiral Yi Sun-sin, the Lord of Loyalty and Chivalry (Chungmugong), of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910); 1 item, 7 volumes; National Treasure No. 76

 -   Admiral Yi Sun-sin kept a daily journal over seven years from January 1, 1592 through November 17, 1598, recording his life in the military. The diary consists of seven books, each covering roughly a year, and titled after the zodiac name of the year based on the Heavenly Stems in the Chinese calendar.

 -  The volume titles are Imjin Ilgi (Diary of the Imjin Year) from 1592; Gyesa Ilgi (Diary of the Gyesa Year) from 1593; Gabo Ilgi (Diary of the Gabo Year) from 1594; Eulmi Ilgi (Diary of the Eulmi Year from 1595; Byeongsin Ilgi (Diary of the Byeongsin Year) from 1596; Jeongyu Ilgi (Diary of the Jeongyu Year) and Sok Jeongyu Ilgi (Diary of the Jeongyu Year: Part II) from 1597; and Musul Ilgi(Diary of the Musul Year) from 1598. Of these eight volumes, seven remain today.

Nanjung Ilgi (War Diary of Admiral Yi Sun-sin) is the journal of Yi Sun-sin (1545-1598), one of the most revered heroes of the Korean people, written during the Japanese invasions of 1592-1598. The diary consists of seven volumes of notes written almost daily from January 1592 through November 1598, until days before Yi was killed, on the cusp of a decisive victory, in the last sea battle of the war.

The seven-year war, also known as the Hideyoshi invasions, was triggered by Japanese ambitions to challenge Ming Dynasty China, and advance into the Asian continent. Mass produced armaments were introduced by Japan and China and Korea built the world’s first armor-plated warships. There is evidence that Southeast Asian and European mercenaries participated in the war.

The war diary is without equal in world history as a commander’s battlefield accounts. Written as a personal journal, it describes in detail the daily combat situations, the admiral’s personal views and feelings, observations on the weather, topographical features of battlefields, and the lives of common people. The style is simple and elegant. The diary contains a number of poems, recited by Koreans to this day, heightening its literary value.