All the characters in Returners are based on figures from history, literature, and myths. Returners, which was developed by Korean devs, has heroes that are also based on historic Korean figures, like Hong Gil-dong, Taejo, Jumong, and Han Seok-bong. However, the most famous figure among all Korean heroes has yet to make his appearance in Returners -- Admiral Yi Sun-sin. When speaking about exceptional figures in Korean history, this admiral from the Joseon dynasty is never excluded; he is not just a strategist or great soldier, he is an individual considered by many to be a mythical hero.
Out of all the achievements he has accomplished in his life, there is one particular historical event that brought him enormously famous: the Imjin War (also known as the Japanese invasions of Korea). Admiral Yi Sun-sin managed to get 23 victories out of all 23 engagements, which made him almost as terrifying as a natural disaster to Japan. The most famous battles that took place during the Japanese invasion are the Battle of Hansan Island, Battle of Noryang, and Battle of Myeongnyang; during the Battle of Myeongnyang, Yi Sun-sin managed to defeat the Japanese navy despite being greatly outnumbered by the Japanese ships.
This is why the portrait of Admiral Yi is found on Korean currency, and why many TV dramas and movies were made that featured him. Also, Koreans honored Admiral Yi by placing a grand statue of him at Gwanghwamun, one of the popular tourist spots in Seoul, South Korea. Since Admiral Yi is so famous that he is universally known in Korea, it seems highly possible that he will appear as a hero in Returners. This post aims to explore the story of the Korean hero, Admiral Yi, and make predictions on what sort of hero he would be in Returners!
◈ A Hero That Shined in the Seemingly Unwinnable Battle of Myeongnyang
As mentioned previously, Admiral Yi became a hero after his accomplishments during the Imjin Wars. Out of all battles he fought in, the Battle of Myeongnyang holds the most fame; a movie was made about it, and Admiral Yi’s victory in that battle is considered one of his greatest deeds.
During the battle, Admiral Yi was greatly outnumbered, having only 13 ships against Japan’s 133 ships. Believe that the trying to stand and fight would be nothing short of suicide, the king of Joseon sent an edict to abandon the ships and bring Admiral Yi back. However, determined to stand against his enemy, Admiral Yi brought all his generals together and together they proclaimed their resolve: ‘We will live if we seek to die, and we will die if we seek to live.’ This excerpt from his journal shows his unwavering drive to save his country.
With just one ship, Admiral Yi managed to destroy many of enemy ships until the middle phase of the battle. The other 12 ships were waiting to flee in case the Admiral’s ship went down, but were called to join the battle by the Admiral. At the same time, the change of the currents favored the Joseon ships, causing the retreating enemy ships to collide with their own advancing ships. The Joseon navy unleashed a barrage, killing the enemy commander and causing the chief commander to withdraw his navy. Joseon was victorious after defeating 133 enemy ships with only 13 of their own.
◈ The Triumphant Admiral Keeps His Loyalty Even in the Face of Betrayal
The life of the great admiral wasn’t an easy one; Yi Sun-sin lost his position in the government when he was framed by his jealous rivals. Despite the adversity, he stayed strong and did not vilify anyone.
People back in the Joseon dynasty wore certain coloured clothes to indicate their class and rank when they were working for the government. Due to him being framed, he abandoned his class and honor, donned the white garb of the lowest ranked subjects, and went to serve in the military under another general’s supervision to show his loyalty towards the king.
In the same year Yi was framed and lost his rank, the rival who framed him led all of Joseon’s navy force during a battle against Japan; he fell for Japan’s strategy and suffered a terrible defeat. Following this, the king made Yi return to his former position, and Admiral Yi led what was left of the naval forces to fight against Japan in the fight later called the Battle of Myeongnyang.
Despite being cast aside by the king and framed by his rivals, Yi stayed loyal to the throne and returned from his expulsion to claim victory in a battle that seemed impossible to win. Some in Japan even look upon Yi Sun-sin as a god - a symbol of martial arts of and loyalty - even though he is an enemy admiral.
◈ Yi Sun-sin in Returners
If Admiral Yi was to become a hero in Returners, he would be wearing traditional Korean armor and would be slashing targets with the double dragon blades he was said to have used in real life. He would fight in battles himself armed with his two swords, so this would easily suit Admiral Yi in-game.
As for Yi Sun-sin’s class, it would depend on which historical image his in-game version would be based on. There are two main depictions of Yi Sun-sin we could come up with; one is a soldier who fights alongside his comrades on the frontline. There isn’t much when it comes to records of Yi fighting foes himself on his ship, but there is a record that describes a time where he personally captured the enemy forces when he was a general in the military. Based on this, it is highly likely that he did not only command soldiers, but also engaged in open combat himself. It doesn’t matter if the heroes in Returners actually engaged in battles in real life, but this historical evidence shows that Yi would be a great character for the fighter class.
The other one is a commander who not only orders and supervises his ally but also encourages them; persevering even in a hopeless battle and encourage his subordinates to lead them to victory is exemplary as a commander. This could make him a great support as well.
As a fighter, it would be great if he could be a new type of fighter - an ally-enhancing fighter that gives buffs to ally heroes around him - instead of being a duelist fighter. As for his skill set, he could have skills that inflict damage with his dual dragon blades while applying CC; as for his ultimate skill, he would provide buffs to nearby allies, increasing their attack damage and speed.
As a support, he could either be a healer or disruptor support; supports usually deal damage from a distance, but Yi could deal melee damage while buffing his allies. He could have an AoE skill that calls down a rain of arrows and cannon shots from his ship and comes with a CC effect. His ultimate skill could consume his own HP to enhance both his and his allies’ attack; it could be named, ‘We will live if we seek to die, and we will die if we seek to live.’