Battle of Myeongnyang Strait, 1597

Depiction of naval combat during the Imjin War, painted c.early 20th century. Original work believed to be in the public domain.

Location Myeongnyang Strait, Korea

In 1597, Japan invaded Korea, breaking a truce that had been signed the previous year and beginning the Imjin War. As their army moved on the Korean capital, a powerful naval force moved inland through the Myeongnyang Strait, in an effort to support it. On this day, 1597, however, they found their way blocked by Admiral Yi Sun-sin. With just thirteen ships remaining, Yi was outnumbered by at least ten to one. However, Yi used the narrow strait and erratic currents to his advantage, forcing the larger Japanese force to attack in small groups. No Korean ships were sunk, and they suffered only very light casualties. The Japanese, on the other hand, lost at least thirty ships, with half their crews killed or wounded. Despite the stunning victory, Yi had to withdraw to the Yellow Sea for refit and resupply, and the Japanese made several incursions into the islands around southern Korea, but were reluctant to stick around for some reason. The Japanese also burned Admiral Yi's hometown, and murdered his youngest son, as retribution. As you can probably guess, that did not end well for them in the next battle.