War relics from 16th century Japanese invasion discovered off southwestern Korea

By Yonhap
  • Published : Oct 12, 2017 - 16:14
  • Updated : Oct 12, 2017 - 16:14
Stone bullets and other war relics believed to have been used by the Korean Navy to fight against invading Japanese troops in the late 16th century have been discovered in a strait off South Korea's southwestern coast, a state-run think tank said Thursday.

The National Research Institute of Maritime Cultural Heritage, affiliated with the Cultural Heritage Administration, held a press conference on a ship in the Myeongnyang Strait between Jin Island and Haenam, a town on South Korea's southwestern coast, to unveil about 120 items that the institute has salvaged from the strait since May this year.

The Myeongnyang Strait was the scene of a naval battle in 1597, between naval forces of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea and Japan. Adm. Yi Sun-sin of the Joseon Dynasty with only 12 warships defeated the invading Japanese armada of 133 naval warships in one of the most dramatic naval battles in history.

A researcher shows a stone bullet, known as "jorantan," during a press conference on a ship in the Myeongnyang Strait between Jin Island and Haenam, a town on South Korea`s southwestern coast, on Oct. 12, 2017. (Yonhap)

Researchers from the state-run think tank discovered bullets made from stone ground into balls that have a diameter of about 2.45 centimeters.

It marked the first time for them to have discovered the stone bullets. Historians say such bullets, known as "jorantan," or bullets like a bird's eggs, had been originally made of iron, and the Korean Navy fired 300 jorantan per shot through a ship-mounted gun.

The institute said the discovery of stone bullets from the strait shows the dire situation in which the Korean Navy during its battles with the Japanese invaders had no resources to make iron bullets.

 Other war relics found from the strait included stone shells and "nogi" triggers of crossbows that were mounted on battleships. These advanced weapons of the times are believed to have been used to assassinate generals of the Japanese navy as part of the Korean Navy's efforts to overcome its numerical inferiority against the overwhelming number of the enemy soldiers.

Among the items were many Korean celadons believed to have been mostly made in the 12th to 13th centuries in Gangjin, a town in South Korea's southwestern province of South Jeolla and near Haenam.

The institute has carried out the research of the strait five times since 2012. The discovery of the 120 items brings the number of artifacts discovered to 910.

In the Myeongnyang Strait, a water linking the Yellow Sea with the South Sea, many ships have been wrecked due to quick currents. (Yonhap)