The late Admiral Son–Wonil established the Navy. He was committed to the Korean Navy his entire life, and was a prime instructor to civil and military functionaries when the country confronted a huge crisis. Admiral Son was born in Oh-heung, a small town near Pyong Yang on May 5th, 1909. He was the first-born son to Son-jungdo, a minister, and Park-shinil. Admiral Son’s father fled to china after involving himself in the anti–Japanese movement in Korea. Admiral Son followed his father to China and lived there for 25 years in China. In China he came to understand the importance of a Navy for the protection of an independent country. On November 11, 1945, under the motto “I will sacrifice myself for my country and my people”, Admiral Son established the Korean Navy. With his fluent English, good manners, and intelligence, he persuaded many military and government counselors to create a strong Korean Navy. His patriotism and leadership, and with the help of his comrades and subordinates, eventually led to the successful establishment of the Korean Navy. Once the Korean Navy was established, he filled various posts. He was the principal of the Naval Academy, the commander of the coast guard, and the first Navy chief of the general staff.
After his retirement, he worked as the prime minister of the Ministry of National Defense, and as the first Korean ambassador to West Germany. He was awarded with a military achievement medal in recognition for his great work as a soldier. He was also awarded the United States of America's Silver Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Great Absolute military Achievement Medal, the Denmark Red Cross Medal, and the U. S. Medal.
To honor his great works in the military and in the sciences, the Naval Academy named its new science and engineering department building the “Won–il Gwan”