Dokdo, a Beautiful Korean Island
Dokdo, a Beautiful Korean Island
  • Reporter Ryu Nu-ri
  • 승인 2018.11.07 14:28
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Reporter Ryu Nu-ri
Reporter Ryu Nu-ri

 

On Oct. 17, the Japanese government announced an amendment to the teacher’s guide for use in high schools for the purpose of further clarifying its position that Dokdo belongs to Japan, and called for the changes to be implemented from next year, three years earlier than originally planned. Such preposterous historical misconceptions over Dokdo is unacceptable and calls for immediate clarification to explain why Dokdo is inarguably Korean territory.


Dokdo has been recognized geographically as a part of Ulleungdo (Ullenung island). On a clear day, Dokdo is visible with bare eyes from Ulleungdo, the island which lies in closest proximity (87.4 km) to Dokdo. Given its geographical location, Dokdo has historically been considered to be a part of Ulleungdo.


 Korean government publications record that Korea has long recognized Dokdo as Korean territory and has exercised effective control over the island. For instance, Sejong Sillok Jiriji (Geography Section of the Annals of King Sejong’s Reign), a government publication of early Joseon (Korea), stated that Ulleungdo and Dokdo are two islands that are part of Joseon’s Uljin prefecture. It is also recorded that the two islands had been territories of Usan State, which was subjugated to Silla (former kingdom of Korea) in AD 512, indicating that Korea’s effective control over Dokdo dates back to the early 6th century.


Korea’s territorial sovereignty over Ulleungdo and its ancillary, Dokdo, was confirmed through diplomatic negotiations between the Korean and Japanese governments (Ulleungdo Dispute) in the 17th century. Furthermore, until Japan’s attempt to incorporate Dokdo in 1905 through the Shimane Prefecture Public Notice No. 40, the Japanese government itself had consistently acknowledged that Dokdo was non-Japanese territory. In fact, in 1877, Dajokan (Grand Council of State), Japan’s highest decision-making body during the Meiji period, determined that it was confirmed through the Ulleungdo Dispute that Ulleungdo (Takeshima) and Dokdo (Matsushima) do not belong to Japan. Therefore, it sent a directive to the Ministry of Home Affairs stating as follows: “Regarding Takeshima [Ulleungdo] and one other island [Dokdo]… bear in mind that our country [Japan] has nothing to do with them.”


Through Imperial Decree No. 41 in 1900, the Empire of Korea placed Dokdo under the jurisdiction of Uldo-gun (Uldo county), and Dokdo came to be administered by a county magistrate. However, Japan attempted to incorporate Dokdo into its own territory in 1905 through the Shimane Prefecture Public Notice No. 40. At that time, Japan was at war with Russia over its interests in Manchuria and the Korean peninsula. Japan had forced the Korean Empire to sign the Korea-Japan Protocol in February 1904 to secure unlimited access to Korean territory in the course of the Russo-Japanese War. Japan’s attempt at turning Dokdo into Japanese territory was also aimed at meeting its military needs in the face of possible maritime clashes with Russia. So, Dokdo was the first Korean territory to fall victim to the Japanese aggression against Korea. This was an illegal act, infringing on Korea’s sovereignty over the island, thus null and void under international law.


Dokdo was restored as an integral part of the territory of the independent Republic of Korea after World War II, as was reaffirmed by the Treaty of Peace with Japan of 1951. Presently, the Government of the Republic of Korea exercises legislative, administrative and judicial jurisdiction over Dokdo.

 


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