Dokdo, 獨島 in Chinese characters, is islets in the East Sea of Korea (also known as Sea of Japan). It has been the territory of Korea since the 6th century belonging to the Silla kingdom of Korea (B.C. 57 - A.D. 935). Dokdo is a part of Ulleung County, North Gyeongsang province of Korea. Ullenung County is in fact a bigger island that is located to the west of Dokdo. Dokdo is visible from Ulleungdo(the bigger island).
Nature of Dokdo
* Dokdo does not have any trees. It is made up of rocks.
* Dokdo has two main islands. They are called East (Dongdo) and West island (Seodo). The distance between the two main islands is 110-160 meters.
* They are composed of 34 islands with 37 physical addresses (ranging from Mountain 1-37 of Dokdori, UlleungEup, Ulleungdo).
* The total area is 64,698 square meter. The highest point is 98 meter.
* The location is 131°52′∼ 131°53′to the East and 37°14′00″∼ 37°14′45″to the North.
* A wharf is constructed in Nov. 1997. It is registered in August, 1998. * The distance from Ulleungdo is 90km to the South East. The cloest Japanese territory is Oki island 160kim apart.
Economical value of Dokdo
Dokdo is important for fishing and natural resource buried underneath and around the islands.
Names of Dokdo and variations
The Ulleungdo (the bigger island) to the west of Dokdo is believed to be occupied by ethnic Koreans until it was conquered by a mainland kingdom. The islands were called Usan. The present name, Dokdo, is believed to be from a name "Sukdo"(Dolsum or Doksum in pure Korean) which means rock islands in a Korean dialect. The first official usage of the name of Dokdo was by Shim HeungTak who was the governer of Ulleungdo in 1906. In 1910, Japan annexed Korea and Dokdo became part of the united Japan Korea empire. Daemado is another islands under dispute due to the occupation of Korea by Japan in 1910. See below. * In 1849, whaling ship Liancourt charted Dokdo and called Liancourt rocks.
* In 1854, Russian war ship Palada charted Dokdo and named Olivutsa(west island) and Menelai(east island).
* In 1855, British war ship Hornet charted Dokdo and named as Hornet rocks. The present Japanese name of Takeshima is derived from Korean dialect(the people who actually lived and called Dokdo) Dok-sum => doku-shima => doke-shima => dake-shima. Take-shima means Bamboo island but Dokdo never had bamboo. It is most likely that they just used the Chinese character for the sound Take which originated from Korean name Dokdo. Also, another Japanese name Matsushima (pinetree island) is also from another Korean name of Dokdo. In Korean, SolSum means lonely islands as well as pinetree islands. People confusingly use those names in Korea. Dokdo is called Holsum and Solsum. Both mean lonely island. It is probable that they wrote down the translation of Sol- or Hol- island into Japanese Matsu- shima. That is why strangely, they call Dokdo a pinetree island.
* Recorded Names of Dokdo in history: 1) Usando 2) Chunsando 3) Jasando 4) Sambongdo 5) Gajido 6) Sukdo.
** These names are not necessarily the same sound of the actual names the local people used, so there are more names. This phenomenon is common in Korea. Most Korean islands (small or big) have multiple names. For example, an island is called 'Jodo' meaning bird-island. However, local people call it, SaeSum. SaeSum means bird-island, but it is impossible to write them down in Chinese, so they write down 'Jodo'. Later, historians will call the islands Jodo. Also, within the local village, they call Jodo differently with different context. For example, the same Jodo is called 'KeunSum' meaning it is big-island. This is because there is a small island next to it. Confusingly, people call the two islands, 'Jodo', depending on situations.
Pre-History of Dokdo
A.D. 300 : Silla kingdom style pots were discovered in Ulleungdo (the main island to the west of Dokdo). They were dated to A.D. 300. It indicated that Ulleungdo was trading with Silla out of the three Korean kingdoms. As Dokdo is visible from Ulleungdo, it is probable that the residents of Ulleungdo used Dokdo as a fishing ground.
Silla Kingdom era
According to Imperial Korean records, Samguk Sagi (1145), the first known reference to the islands in the world, proclaiming them a part of the independent Korean island state of Usan-guk, dates from the Silla Dynasty in 512 AD. Usan-guk became a protectorate of Goryeo in 930 as Silla fell.
Goryo Dynasty of Korea
There is not much written records about Dokdo in China, Japan and Korea in the Goryo dynasty of Korea. The only one available nowadays is from Goryo History. In A.D. 930, there is a tax record by two residents of Ulleungdo, "Back Gil" and "Tae Doo". These names are Korean, and Goryo dynasty was controlling the islands. Unlike Josun dynasty, Goryo did not use island evacuation policy to any of her territory.
Josun Dynasty of Korea
In 1432, in the empirical records(SeJongSilRok, the journal kept by the government), they classified two islands to the East: "In the middle of the sea to the East, there are two islands, called Usan and MuReung". The reason of the record is believed to describe the boundary of Korean territory around that time. In the Josun dynasty of Korea (from 1312 to 1910), Koreans called Dokdo with various names such as "SamBongdo"(meaning 3 peaks), "Usando" and "Gajido". In 1899, in the official government geography (DaeHanJiJi), we can find Dokdo is denoted as "Usan" next to Ulleungdo (the closest island). At that time, it was belonged to Ganwon province, not the present Kyongsang province by the order of then Korean emperor, "GoJong". The first usage of the name of Dokdo was by Shim HeungTak who was the governer of Ulleungdo in 1906. In 1914, Dokdo became part of Kyungsang province. In 1849, France charted Dokdo and inclued it into their map with the name "Liancourt Rock". Later, 1885, the British warship Hornet charted Dokdo and included in their map as "Hornet Rock".
Chronicles of Dokdo
# A.D. 300 : Silla kingdom pots were discovered in Ulleungdo (the main island to the west of Dokdo). They were dated to A.D. 300. It indicated that Ulleungdo was trading with Silla out of the three Korean kingdoms. As Dokdo is visible from Ulleungdo, it is probable that the residents of Ulleungdo used Dokdo as a fishing ground.
# A.D. 512 : Silla ordered "Yi Sabu" to conquer Usan-guk (the Ulleungdo kingdom). Silla soldiers made a wooden lion to scare the Usan-guk people. Usan-guk surrenderred to Silla.
# A.D. 930 : There is a record of paying tax by two residents of Ulleungdo, "Back Gil" and "Tae Doo" to Goryo dynasty of Korea.
# A.D. 1018 : There was a report/news by the refugee Usan-guk people on Jurchen pirate attacks on Ulleungdo. Goryo dynasty gave them some agricultural equipment to support them.
# A.D. 1019 : The Goryo dynasty arranged the refugees to live in "YoungHae" district of Silla.
# A.D. 1157 : The king heard that the Ulleungdo was fertile and people were living in the islands in the past. He sent "Gim Yu-Rip" to examine the island(Ulleungdo). Gim reported that there are too much rocks and the king cancelled the re-colonization plan.
# A.D. 1145 : Samguk Sagi, written by Gim Busik,records Ulleungdo as an ancient nation that was conquered by Silla kingdom. Dokdo has always been regarded as part of Ulleungdo as it was visible.
# A.D. 1197 : "Choi Chung Hun", the great scholar and politician of Goryo dynasty ordered to recolonize Ulleungdo. On the way, the ship met storm and lost many people. He ordered the people to come back.
# A.D. 1407 : Josun dynasty adopted "island evacuation policy" to prevent continued looting by pirates. The government rules and monitors the islands in all sides of Korean peninsula, but evacuate residents depending on local situations.
# A.D. 1407 : The governer of Daemado (Tshshima) asked the Korean King (Josun dynasty), to colonize Ulleungdo. The king refused.
# A.D. 1425 : The government decided to evacuate the whole Ulleungdo (it seems that Koreans were keep visiting and living in the islands without the government's permission). The king ordered "Gim InWoo" to evacuate the islands. Gim was called "the general of Usan and MuReung" indicating that the dynasty was regarding the Ulleungdo and Dokdo as one entity.
# A.D. 1432 : A geography book describes Ulleungdo and Dokdo.
# A.D. 1531 : In one of the oldest maps of Korea (PalDoChongDo), Dokdo and Ulleungdo are marked as Korean territory (Dokdo is denoted to the west of Ulleungdo. It must be a mistake by the cartographer).
# A.D. 1693 : A Korean fisherman An YongBok saw Japanese fishermen around Ulleungdo. He went to Japan to protest the Japanese government. Then Japanese government apologized and promised to ban their fishermen to approach Ulleungdo and Dokdo. The Japanese government sent an official document of apology (written in the journal of SukJongSilRok, Jojeon dynasty).
# A.D. 1876 : The internal affair ministry of Japan denote that Ulleungdo and Dokdo are nothing to do with Japan. This shows the historical understanding on the sovereignty by both governments around that time.
# A.D. 1876 : "Hanil Suho" tready announced. This was a forced agreement between the two countries. It means mutual defense agreement. Since this time, Japanese fishers came to fish and cut trees without restriction.
# A.D. 1881 : Korean government received reports that Korean and Japanese people are having conflict in Ulleungdo and protested Japanese government.
## It is imporant to know that, for lay fishermen, the government's or historical facts are not important. The boundary of nations were not as clear as today. Imagine the situation in the northern Europen in 1700s.
# A.D. 1883 : Korea abanded the "[[island evacuation polity". They sent 54 people to Ulleungdo.
# A.D. 1900 : Korea changed the name of Ulleungdo to Ulldo. The official guideline denoted that the governing area include all islets of Ulleungdo and Sukdo (Rock islands meaning Dokdo).
# A.D. 1905 : Japan took over Korean sea sovereighty. (By this time, Korea lost her diplomatic, military and political power to Japan. In 1910, Korea was forced to be annexed to Japan).
# A.D. 1905 : Japan put a watch tower in Dokdo to monitor Russian navy.
# A.D. 1948 : The republic of Korea was established and designated a regional address to Dokdo as a part of Ulleungdo.
# A.D. 1953 : A voluntary Dokdo guard was formed by 33 residents of Ulleungdo.
# A.D. 1956 : The Dokdo guard handed over their responsibility to Korean police. # A.D. 1981 : Mr. "Choi JongDuk" moved his residential address to Dokdo and harvested seaweeds.
Maps of Dokdo
# Ancient maps to 1600 A.D.
# Maps from 1600s A.D.
# Maps from 1700s A.D.
# Maps from 1800s A.D.
# Maps from 1900s A.D.
== Dispute over Dokdo in between Japan and Korea ==
Japan claims Dokdo as their territory.
Why such disputes ?
# Historical perspective: This matter should not be viewed only present geographical knowledge. We need to look it by the perspectives of the pre-history and historical people.
# Political perspective: The dispute is a political issue nowadays. We need to know the intensions of both parties political views.
# Cultural perspective: There is a cultural issue between Korea and Japan in Dokdo dispute.
Earliest Japanese records
According to earliest Japanese records, the islands, then known as Matsushima(Pinetree islands. There are no pine trees and it is probable that they meant the bigger Ulleungdo), were granted to the Ooya and Murakawa families of Hoki province (modern Tottori) by the Tokugawa Shogunate in the 1650s. The two families were descendents of two fishermen who drifted to Ulleung islands in 1616. They found that the islands had not been occupied and asked local feudal government a permission to fish and log trees. The permission lasted for about 80 years until the government banned them acknowledging the Korean sovereignty of Dokdo. The common English name, Liancourt Rocks, was given by a French whaling ship in 1849.
Annexation of Korea by Japan
Since the forceful annexation of Korea to Japan by the emperial Japan in 1910, Japan claimed them as their territory. The reason why the islands were not inhabitted when the two Japanese fishermen were drifted to them was due to lootings of Japanese pirates in the Far Eastern seas. Korean government occasionally conquered and erradicated them, but Japanese pirates kept attacking islands and coastlines of Korea. To protect residents, Korea occasionally evacuated some parts of the coast and islands and recolonized when there was a necessity. After a request by a Japanese fisherman, on February 22, 1905 upon the loss of Korean naval sovereignty after the Russo-Japanese War the islands under the name Takeshima were proclaimed a part of Shimane prefecture in Japan under the doctrine of terra nullius.
World War II
During World War II, the island was used as a naval base by the Imperial Japanese Navy. Upon Japan's defeat and occupation by the Allies, SCAP Instruction #677 of January 29, 1946 excluded the islands from Japan's administrative authority. However, the instruction specifically stated that it was not an 'ultimate determination' of the islands' fate, and all other islands listed in the document were eventually returned to Japan. The 1952 Treaty of San Francisco, which settled the sovereignty of most other disputed islands, did not mention the islands.
Korean war and thereafter
On January 12, 1953, the Government of South Korea ordered the army to enforce their claim on the island, and in the same year on April 20, South Korean volunteer coast guards set up camp on the island. On June 27, 1953, two Japanese coast guard vessels landed on the East Islet, drove off the Korean guards and set up a territorial marker, but did not attempt permanent occupation. The Koreans soon returned and several armed skirmishes followed, leading to the sinking of a Japanese ship by Korean mortar fire on April 21, 1954. Japan protested and suggested arbitration at the International Court of Justice, but the offer was rejected by South Korea who has had experienced the same tactic in the occupation and annexation in the early 1900s: a Japanese ship was sunken by Korean coastal fire arms requesting withdrawl from the Korean territory. This led to a modernized Japanese army invasion to Korean peninsula. After the incident in 1954, South Korea built a lighthouse and helicopter landing pad on the islet, which it has occupied ever since.
Current situation (2004)
The issue of sovereignty over the islands was omitted from the 1965 Basic Relations Treaty, and both sides maintain territorial claims. The United States maintains a policy of non-recognition for claims by either side, although several private memoranda recorded in the Foreign Relations of the United States between 1949 and 1951 appear to side with Japan's view and are occasionally brought up as "proof" of American support. The dispute has periodically flared up again, typically when South Korea acts to change the islets or their status (for example, building a wharf in 1996 or declaring them a natural monument in 2002), resulting in a reassertion of the territorial claim by Japan. In 2002, two Japanese textbooks questioning Korea's claim to the islets were published, leading to protests in South Korea. Another conflict arose in March 2005, when the prefectual assembly of Shimane passed a bill to designate February 22 as "Takeshima Day," to commemorate the centenary of Japan's claim to the islands. In a survey performed in both countries, the level of interest in Japan in relation to the islets was substantially lower, whereas over 99% of people surveyed in Korea believed that the islets were part of their country. Korea shows the islets in all of their official maps, and includes them in weather forecasts as well. The Republic of Korea currently has stationed a small police unit on the islands, and there are a handful of Korean citizens who list the islands as their residence.
North Korean view
According to the North Korean constitution, the entire Korean peninsula and surrounding islands, including Liancourt Rocks, belongs to North Korea (as in the South Korean constitution) and North Korean' state press heavily criticizes Japan for their "attempts to invade the Republic territory."
* Cyber Dokdo Web Page by Gyeongsangbuk-Do Province,Korea
* Korean Government's Policy About Dokdo
* Dispute Over Dokdo (Korean view)
* Japan's Position on Dokdo (by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
* Dokdo Museum in Ulleung-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-Do, Korea
* Dokdo.net | Dokdo.com
* Bombing of Dokdo by US
* PKNU Dokdo page * Koreartnet Dokdo history