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Dear America Wiki

"The Tide of Turtles: The Diary of Lee Ghe Song, Naval Commander" is the grand-prize winning entry for the fourth and final Dear America Writing Contest. The story was written by Justin K., whom was then ten-years-old. It currently only exists in an excerpt as the full version was never released publicly.



Illustration for the story

Fifteen-year-old Lee Ghe Song is living in Pusan when the Japanese first invade Korea. His father sends him to get help, but when he returns he finds both of his parents dead. After helping the villagers bury all of the dead, Ghe Song heads for Cholla Province where he hopes to meet the legendary naval admiral Yi Sun Sin. Six years later in 1598, Ghe Song has become a commander under Yi Sun Sin, whom he regards as a father. Now aged twenty-one, he feels confident about his standing. In the months after the first invasion, Admiral Yi built a large fleet of ships to stand against the Japanese, one of which Ghe Song commands.

In mid-November 1598, Ghe Song helps repair the ships. He still marvels at Admiral Yi's kobukson ships, which look "strangely like a turtle." Meanwhile, Admiral Yi confides in Ghe Song about his suspicions regarding Kim Song Jeh, whom may be a Japanese spy. Over the following days, Admiral Yi's fleet continues to successfully fight off the Japanese. Ghe Song later finds Kim Song Jeh attempting to scuttle his ship. He is promptly thrown into the hold of Admiral Yi's ship. On the last day of battle, Admiral Yi is killed by a stray bullet. Ghe Song attends his funeral a few days later. He looks to forward to the future thanks to Admiral Yi's success in defeating the Japanese.



  • Lee Ghe Song, a nobleman's son whom was fifteen during the first invasion. After his parents were killed, he joined Admiral Yi Sun Sin's command. By twenty-one, Ghe Song had became a trusted naval commander under Admiral Yi.


  • Kim Soh Jeh was a Japanese spy. Admiral Yi began to suspect him when his accent slipped. Ghe Song later discovered him attempting to scuttle his ship, resulting in Soh Jeh being arrested.
  • Admiral Yi Sun Sin, a famous navy admiral whom was dedicated to his country. Before the first invasion, he was stripped of his powers after being framed by government officials. He was later promoted and built a fleet of ships to go up against the Japanese. Admiral Yi was killed at the Battle of Noryang.


  • General Hideyoshi, a Japanese warlord whom secretly gathered an army in order to invade Korea.
  • King Sonjo, the ruler of Korea. He was initially assured that Japan had no intention of invading.


Justin K., whose last name is unknown, was ten-years-old when he won the grand prize for the final Dear America Writing Contest. He was from California. His classroom received a visit from Patricia C. McKissack on May 4, 2001. He personally received a journal, engraved Tiffany pen, and a set of Dear America and My Name Is America books.[1][2]


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