Destination: Okpo Great Victory Commemorative Park (Geoje-do, Gyeongsangnam-do)

Save for King Sejong, that inventor of the Korean alphabet, Admiral Yi Sun-shin serves as Korea’s second-most looked-up-to historical figure. His deeds of defense during the attempted Japanese invasion in the late 16th century remain memorialized here and in other forms across the country.

This museum and shrine aims to document the weapons and clothes of the time – that big gun in the front is called a 천자총통 (cheon-ja-chong-tong) – and I dare say you’d need two hands attached to two fairly strong people to carry that thing.

Paintings and (reproduction) swords from the  fight.

Clothing and a saddle – not pictured are two full-size models showing uniforms of the General and Sailor.

A bit later on are some of the formations used – apparently effective even centuries ago.

The museum itself is interesting, but only half of the story. Where it honors the man in life, the shrine honors them in death.

The famous 거북선 (Geo-buk-seon), AKA the turtle ship. Not pictured on the other side is a 판옥선 (Pan-ok-seon), the main warship of Joseon’s Naval Forces. It’s not as flashy as the turtleship, being a more practical sort.

The hongsalmun (홍살문) – the red spiked gate that signifies the entrance to a sacred area. There’s a few dozen stairs between you and the main shrine, naturally.

The other half of the shrine has more decorated folding panels.

A sunset? Sure, why not?

Despite being well-built and recent (opened in 2006), the entire area still feels quite remote. Three people staffed the entrance to the parking lot – a job easily held by one  - while we saw a mere handful of other people the entire time we were there. It’s seen from the main tourist maps, but doesn’t seem as visited as some of the other destinations on the country’s second-largest island. It’s kind of unsurprising – beyond simply being remote, the place is more or less a rehash of the same story. Perhaps the same man can be honored in so many ways that people aren’t as interested anymore.

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Name: Okpo Great Victory Commemorative Park (옥포대첩기념공원)
Address: Gyeongsangnam-do Geoje-si Okpo-dong 7
Korean address: 경상남도 거제시 옥포동 7
Directions: Two options here – start from Geoje-do’s Gohyeon Bus Terminal either way. Option A is easier – take bus 33 to the 팔랑포정 (Pal-lang po-jeong) bus stop. Once at the bus stop, walk 500 meters and turn right onto 팔랑포2길 (Pal-lang-po-2-gil). The street will dead end at the museum about a kilometer on.

Option B is faster – catch bus 10, 11, 22, or 23-1 and ride for about 35-40 minutes to the 애드미럴호텔앞 (Admiral Hotel) bus stop and catch a taxi from there.
Hours: 9am-6pm
Admission: 1,000 won
Phone: 055-639-8240
Website: http://www.geojeimc.or.kr

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