Solitary islands in the land of morning calm. Why the Dokdo Island is important to Korea and what we should know.
Information provided by “dokdo-takeshima.com”, a website with historical facts about Korea’s Dokdo Island.
Dokdo is the easternmost territory of Korea and situated 87.4km to the SE of Ul-leung-do Island. It is not one island, but consists of two large islands Dongdo and Seodo and 89 small islands around them. There are about 37 South Korean police that guard the islets, and three lighthouse keepers living on the islets in rotation. In the past, several fishermen also lived there temporarily. In 2005, a South Korean couple held the first recorded wedding ceremony on Dokdo Island.
There is regular ferry service from Ulleungdo. In 2005, the number of visitors was 41,000, which became over100,000 in 2007. Dokdo’s number of tourists continues to rise.
Although the islets themselves are barely habitable, the Exclusive Economic Zone surrounding them has rich fishing grounds and possible reserves of natural gas. As of 2006, the expected reserves have not been found. A wide variety of fish as well as seaweed, kelp, sea slugs, and clams are located around Dokdo Island. Major fishery catches in the area are squid, Alaskan pollock, codfish, and octopus. There are 102 species of seaweed, although many of these have no economic value.
So, what’s the dispute over Dokdo?
Alongside other Japan–Korea disputes, Dokdo Island remains a point of heated contention. Korea and Japan have a long, complex history of cultural exchange, war, and political rivalry. The islets are the last disputed territory between Korea and Japan following World War II. Although Japan’s MOFA insists Allied Command granted Dokdo to Japan after the Second World War, there was no mention of Dokdo in the Japan Peace Treaty, leaving the issue unsettled.
The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers its position “inalterable”. When Japan’s Shimane prefecture announced a “Takeshima Day” in 2005, ( Japan’s Legacy of Expansionism Continues ) Koreans reacted with demonstrations and protests throughout the country, extreme examples of which included a mother and son slicing off their own fingers, and a man who self-immolated. In 2006, five Korean “Dokdo Riders” embarked on a world tour to raise international awareness of the dispute. Another notable protest featured South Koreans decapitating pheasants in front of the Japanese Embassy.
Although claimed by both Korea and Japan, Dokdo Island is currently administered by the Republic of Korea. Both nations’ claims extend back at least several hundred years. Significant arguments supported by a variety of historical evidence have been presented by both parties, which have been challenged by counter-arguments with varying degrees of success. North Korea supports South Korea’s claim.
Please visit the website dokdo-takeshima.com and continue reading for more historical facts and information. The website is run by various experts on the subject of Dokdo islands, including Steven J Barber who started the website 6 years ago to “create a stable database that could make this valuable data accessible for years to come.”