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Dokdo in History

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Three Kingdoms Period

Subjugation of Usan by Silla

In the 13th year of King Jijeung¡¯s reign, or 512 A.D., general Isabu of Silla, an ancient kingdom of Korea, subjugated the state of Usan-the modern Ulleungdo and Dokdo. From that time on, Usan offered its staples to Silla every year. An encyclopedic book of the Joseon dynasty, Donggukmunheonbigo, published in 1770, writes: ¡°¡¦According to a Chinese geography record, Yeojiji, Ulleungdo and Usando are territories of Usan. Usando is the island that the Japanese call Matsushima.¡± This shows that Usando, the modern Dokdo, belonged to Usan, which was subjugated to an ancient nation of Korea.

Goryeo Era

Subjugation of Usan by Goryeo

In August 930, before the founder of Goryeo, King Taejo, united the Later Three Kingdoms, Ureungdo, an ancient name for Ulleungdo, sent two envoys, Baekgil and Todu, to Goryeo to pay a tribute. From that time on, Goryeo took control of Usan from Silla. The History of Goryeo, or Goryeosa, provides a description of Dokdo: ¡°Usando and Mureungdo (Ulleungdo) are two separate islands that stand close enough to be seen from each other on sunny days with adequate wind.¡±

Joseon Dynasty

Early Joseon Period: Recognition of Usando

In September 1416, King Taejong carried out a policy of moving the residents of Mureungdo to the mainland of Joseon. He dispatched the Mureung Provincial Envoy, Kim In-u, to the region. In May 1425, King Sejong ordered them to be brought to the mainland and sent Kim again to the island. This time Kim¡¯s position was named Usan-Mureung Provincial Envoy. The addition of the term Usan demonstrates that the Joseon leaders had been aware of the existence of Usando (Dokdo) next to Mureungdo (Ulleungdo) since Kim¡¯s first mission. Later in 1454, the Geographical Description of the Annals of King Sejong, or Sejongsillok, wrote: ¡°¡¦There lie the two islands of Usando and Mureungdo to the due east of Ujin-hyeon, Gangwon-do. The two are not distant from each other, so on fine days, each one can be seen from the other.¡± That is, ancient Koreans were already aware of Dokdo in the early 15th century. By contrast, it is estimated that it was only after the 17th century when Japan came to recognize the existence of the island, long after Joseon moved the Mureungdo residents to the mainland.

Late Joseon Period: Territorial Rights over Dokdo Affirmed

In 1693 and again in 1696, a Korean fisherman, An Yong-bok, went to Japan to receive apologies from the Japanese government for Japanese fishermen¡¯s operation in the sea near Ulleungdo. In the end, the Japanese government imposed a ban on Japanese vessels¡¯ passage across the waters near Ulleungdo, reaffirming that Ulleungdo and Dokdo were territories of Joseon. According to the document, the area around which Japanese boats were banned from operating included the waters off Dokdo, since the Japanese government at that time regarded Dokdo as an annex to Ulleungdo.

It is told that before imposing the ban, the Japanese central government inquired whether there was any island falling under the jurisdiction of Tottori region, the Japanese prefecture near the disputed area. The prefectural government reported: ¡°Including Tekeshima (Ulleungdo) and Matsushima (Dokdo), no islands belong to Tottori Prefecture,¡± a statement that reaffirmed that Ulleungdo and Dokdo were not territories of Japan.

Port-Opening Era

Territorial Rights over Dokdo Reaffirmed

In 1876, the Ministry of Home Affairs of Japan carried out a nationwide survey of land register. Regarding the question as to whether or not Takeshima and Matsushima should be included in the cadaster of Shimane Prefecture, the Ministry consulted the supreme administrative body, Dajokan. On March 29, 1877, the Junior Prime Minister, Iwakura Tomomi, of Dajokan issued an order which said that Takeshima and the other island (Matsushima) in question did not belong to Japanese territory. Attached to this order was the Rough Map of Isotakeshima (Ñ´ñÓÓöå²Óñ), which provides solid evidence of Japan¡¯s elimination of the two islands from its territory.

Great Han Empire

Imperial Ordinance No. 41 & Japan¡¯s Encroachment on Territorial Rights on Dokdo

On October 27, 1900, the Great Han Empire, the imperial state of Korea, promulgated the Imperial Ordinance No. 41 to change the name of Ulleungdo to Uldo and give the head official of the region a higher position of governor, which meant that the region of Ulleungdo was given the administrative status of ¡°gun.¡± Ulleung-gun now had jurisdiction over the entire island of Ulleungdo, Jukdo and Seokdo. Seokdo means an island of rocks (à´ in Chinese letter, pronounced ¡°seok¡± in Korean), the present Dokdo. The ordinance demonstrates that Dokdo was part of the local government system of the Great Han Empire.

In 1905, the Japanese Cabinet passed the petition for the incorporation of Dokdo filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, and Governor Matsunaga Takeyoshi of Shimane Prefecture announced the incorporation of Riankoshima (Dokdo) into Japanese territory in the Shimane Prefecture Notice No. 40. This illegitimate incorporation was made covertly during the Russo-Japanese War without notifying the Great Han Empire, and was clearly part of Japan¡¯s imperialistic efforts to conquer the neighboring area. On March 28, 1906, officials from Shimane Prefecture paid a visit to Ulleungdo and told the Governor of Ulleung-gun, Sim Heung-taek, that Dokdo had been annexed to Japan. Startled, Governor Sim reported to the Governor of Chuncheon-gun, Lee Myeong-rae, that Japan insisted on the incorporation of Dokdo, ¡°an island under the jurisdiction of Ulleung-gun,¡± which was in turn reported to the central government. The State Council Minister, Park Je-sun, firmly asserted, ¡°Japan¡¯s claim is absolutely unfounded.¡± However, deprived of the sovereign power over its own foreign affairs by Japan in 1905, Korea was not able to take essential actions against Japan¡¯s seizure of the island.

Japan argued that it annexed Dokdo to its territory because no ownership had been claimed over the island. But such argument contradicted its other argument that Dokdo had always been a Japanese territory. Realizing this, Japan has been putting forward an adjusted claim since 1950 that it ¡°reaffirmed¡± its intention of holding the ownership of Dokdo. However, this also goes against Dajokan¡¯s order in 1877 that stipulated that Japan had nothing to do with Ulleungdo and Dokdo.

Period of Japanese Colonial Rule

Dual perception of Dokdo

Since 1910, Dokdo had been under the jurisdiction of the administrative district of Shimane Prefecture of Japan. However it was also regarded as Korean territory at the same time. Joseon Coast Waterway, published by the Canals and Waterways Division of the Ministry of Navy of Imperial Japan in 1933, clearly showed in vol. 1, a section about Ulleungdo and Dokdo, that Dokdo was an island belonging to Ulleungdo, giving a detailed description of the two islands.
In addition, Regional Map, published by the Land Measurement Department of Imperial Japan¡¯s army in 1936, included Ulleungdo and Dokdo (Takeshima) in the region of Joseon, and drew a thick black line off Dokdo that divided ¡°Joseon region¡± and ¡°Japan region.¡± This shows that Japan considered Dokdo as Korean territory.
On April 24, 1939, meanwhile, the Japanese government decided to incorporate Dokdo into Oki-gun, Shimane Prefecture.

Since the Liberation from Japanese Rule

Dokdo, Territory of Korea

On January 29, 1946, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers issued its Instruction Note (SCAPIN) No. 667 on the subject of Governmental and Administrative Separation of Certain Outlying Areas from Japan, excluding Dokdo from Japanese territory. On June 22, SCAPIN No. 1033 was declared on the subject of Area Authorized for Japanese Fishing and Whaling, establishing the so-called MacArthur Line that excluded Dokdo from the authorized area for Japan¡¯s operation in the sea, and recognized Dokdo as a territory of Korea.

In 1951, the U.S. and Britain prepared the draft for the Treaty of San Francisco. The draft included Dokdo in the list of areas over which Japan was to cede its control, but Japan lobbied for Dokdo and as a result, the description of the island was removed in the final version of the treaty. However, in October 1951, the Japanese government submitted its territorial map based on the treaty to the House of Representatives, and in this map, Dokdo was excluded from Japanese territory.

On January 18, 1952, President Rhee Syngman of the Republic of Korea announced the Presidential Declaration of Sovereignty over Adjacent Seas, declaring the so-called Peace Line, and made clear to the people of Korea and to the rest of the world that Dokdo is a territory of the Republic of Korea.

Dokdo is Korean territory in terms of history, geography and international laws.

The Republic of Korea has been exercising territorial sovereignty over Dokdo ever since it recovered such rights at the end of World War II.