Ongoing Dispute for Hundreds of Years
Ongoing Dispute for Hundreds of Years
  • Reporter Lee Sang-min
  • 승인 2010.03.24 10:08
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▲ Dokdo
On Mar.1 an advertisement concerning Dokdo was hung in Times Square in New York. The reason for such attraction-seeking publicity lies in the dispute over the ownership of the Island. The following article will explain the background of the dispute.

The overview of dispute

The main position of each side is following; the sovereignty of Dokdo (called ‘Takeshima’ in Japan) is claimed by both South Korea and Japan. Dokdo has been physically dominated by South Korea after the foundation of the Republic of Korea. The Japanese Empire occupied Dokdo before that, and Japan insists on submission of the dispute to the International Court of Justice. South Korea is pursuing enforcement of practical occupation with little noise in diplomacy.

Incorporation of Dokdo by Japan in 1905

Before 1905, Dokdo was included in the Chosun Dynasty and Dae-han Empire, which ruled the Korean peninsula. Many historical evidences from Korea, Japan, and western countries support Korea’s claim. In 1905, the Japanese Empire decided to incorporate Dokdo for these reasons: precaution for conflicts against the Russian Empire, procurement of fishery rights, and groundwork to colonize Korea. On Feb. 22, 1905 Shimane Prefectural Notice No. 40, announced in a local newspaper, incorporated the islets as part of Shimane Prefecture by regarding Dokdo as a terra nullius under international law. Five years after that, the Dae-han Empire was annexed by Japan.

After the liberation of Korea in 1945

Along with the defeat of the Japanese Empire and retrocession of territories to former colonies, many documents, treaties, and instructions were established. However, conflicts and uncertainties have risen on interpretations of Japan’s renunciation of sovereignty over Dokdo. Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers Instruction #677 of 1946 referred administration of Dokdo by Japan as part of territories which should have been suspended from Japan. On the other hand, the Rusk Documents, sent to South Korea in 1951, presented the belief of the U.S of Japanese sovereignty over Dokdo. Moreover, the final version of the Treaty of San Francisco signed in 1951 regulated the sovereignty of Dokdo as undefined.

Recent conflicts

In the 21st Century, conflicts around Dokdo have risen once more. It has become a common issue in society. In 2005, the Shimane Prefectural Council established a ‘Takeshima Day’ and officially claimed sovereignty over Dokdo. To counter this, former president Roh Moo-hyun announced a special statement affirming Korean sovereignty over Dokdo. In addition, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs distributed a pamphlet claiming sovereignty over Dokdo, and the Japanese government decided to mention the dispute in common curriculum guidelines for social-study classes in junior high schools. For this decision, the Korean government temporarily recalled its ambassador to Japan.


☞ How to Reach Dokdo

Take a ferry to Ulleungdo from Pohang, and transfer to another one there.

From where?
Pohang Port Passenger Terminal.

How to go?
Take Bus 105 at the East Gate, and get off at the Pohang Customs (or Northern Beach). Walk five minutes.

When does it depart?
Once a day at 9:30 AM; it takes 3 hours. The returning ship departs at 14:30, and the round-trip ship to Dokdo departs at 14:00 in Ulleungdo. It takes 1.5 hours. Caution: Service conditions vary largely upon weather condition.

How much is the fee?
161,100 KRW for a round-trip to Dokdo (adult).