Monday, May 01, 2006

What is the history of Ulleungdo? (Introduction)


Ulleungdo (鬱陵島: 울릉도) is a Korean island about 134 kilometers off the South Korean coast in the Sea of Japan. It has a north latitude between 37 degrees 27 minutes and 37 degrees 33 minutes, and an east logitude between 130 degree 47 minutes and 130 degrees 55 minutes. Its dimensions are approximately 9.5 kilometers north to south and 10 kilometers east to west. It has a total area of approximately 73 square kilometers (km) and a circumference of about 56.5 km. There are a dozen or so peaks on the island, but the highest is Seonginbong (聖人峰: 성인봉), which is 984 meters high.

Here is a satellite picture of Ulleungdo.

There are several rocky islets just offshore of Ulleungdo, but there are only two islands of any significant size. The islands, which are located off the east coast, are called Kwaneumdo (觀音島: 관음도) and Jukdo (竹島: 죽도). Kwaneumdo is only about a 100 meters offshore, and Jukdo is about 2.5 kilometers offshore.

Ulleungdo, Kwaneumdo, and Jukdo make up what is called Ulleung County, which is under the jurisdiction of Gyeongbuk Province. Korea also claims that a small group of rocky islets ninety-two kilometers southeast of Ulleungdo are also part of Ulleung County, but Japan disputes this by claiming that the islets are Japanese. The Koreans call the islets "Dokdo," the Japanese call them "Takeshima," and the West calls them "Liancourt Rocks." The rocky islets have a total area of only about 0.17 square km, and have been occupied by a small detachment of Korean maritime police since 1954.

I believe that Liancourt Rocks are Japanese territory and that Korea is illegally occupying them. Over the next several weeks, I plan to examine the history of Ulleungdo and Dokdo/Takeshima and support my beliefs with maps and quotes from historical documents. Posters are welcome to comment on my claims in the comments section, and refute them with their own evidence if they would like. I only ask that you keep your comments civil.

I do not have all the answers. I am searching for the truth, and plan to make my search a learning experience. I am hoping that a good dialog with people who visit this site will help us all learn something. You already know where I stand on the issue, so feel free to let me know where you stand and to disagree with me where you will.


  1. I'm all ears! You'd better have some pretty convincing arguments lined up.

  2. Gerry, this is great. Finally someone to counter the lies abd deliberate distortions on the Mark Lovmo 'dokdo' site.

  3. I can see you are biased already. As you noted, Dokdo has been occupied by Korea since a half century ago. In order for an unbiased third party to start with the Japanese position despite the current Korean possession, you would have to have a compeling as well as clearcut evidence offhand that you admittedly don't have yet. I suggest you do something else enjoyable that you are actually good at.

  4. Mr. Anonymous,

    I said that I did not have all the answers, not that I did not have compeling and clearcut evidence that Dokdo/Takeshima historically belonged to Japan.

    I have compeling evidence that the Chosun government very likely did not even know about Dokdo/Takeshima before 1905, much less claimed it.

    I have clearcut evidence that Japan incorporated Dokdo/Takeshima in 1905.

    I have clearcut evidence that the United States believed that Dokdo/Takeshima was Japanese territory, not Korean.

    I have clearcut evidence that the 1952 Peace Treaty allowed Japan to keep Dokdo/Takeshima.

    The Asst. Secretary of State Dean Rusk Letter to the Korean Ambassador rejected Korea's request to include Dokdo/Takeshima among the territory that Japan must give up in the 1952 Peace Treaty. See the following quote:

    With respect to request of the Korean Government that Article 2(a) of the draft be revised to provide that Japan "confirms that it renounced on August 9, 1945, all right, title and claim to Korea and the islands which were part of Korea prior to its annexation by Japan, including the islands Qualpart, Port Hamilton, Daglet, Dokdo and Parangdo," the United States Government regrets that it is unable to concur in this proposed amendment. The United States Government does not feel that the Treaty Should adopt the theory that Japan's acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration on August 9, 1945 constituted a formal or final renunciation of sovereignty by Japan over this areas dealt with in the Declaration. As regards the island of Dokdo, otherwise known as
    Takeshima or Liancourt Rocks, this normally uninhabited rock formation was according to our information never treated as part of Korea and, since about 1905, has been under the jurisdiction of the Oki Islands Branch Office of Shimane Prefecture of Japan. The island does not appear ever before to have been claimed by Korea. It is understood that the Korean Government's request that "Parangdo" be included among the islands named in the treaty as having been renounced by Japan has been withdrawn.

    Korea asked for Qualpart, Port Hamilton, Daglet, Dokdo and Parangdo, but the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty gave Korea only Quelpart, Port Hamilton and Dagelet. Here is the relevant article from the treaty:

    Article 2(a) "Japan recognizing the independence of Korea, renounces all right, title and claim to Korea, including the islands of Quelpart, Port Hamilton and Dagelet."

    After the United States told Korea that Dokdo/Takeshima was Japanese territory, Korea unilaterally claimed the territory. See the following quote from the 1954 mission report of US Ambassador James A. Van Fleet:

    4. Ownership of Dokto Island
    The Island of Dokto (otherwise called Liancourt and Take Shima) is in the Sea of Japan approximately midway between Korea and Honshu (131.80E, 36.20N). This Island is, in fact, only a group of barren, uninhabited rocks. When the Treaty of Peace with Japan was being drafted, the Republic of Korea asserted its claims to Dokto but the United States concluded that they remained under Japanese sovereignty and the Island was not included among the Islands that Japan released from its ownership under the Peace Treaty. The Republic of Korea has been confidentially informed of the United States position regarding the islands but our position has not been made public. Though the United States considers that the islands are Japanese territory, we have declined to interfere in the dispute. Our position has been that the dispute might properly be referred to the International Court of Justice and this suggestion has been informally conveyed to the Republic of Korea....

    Mr. Anonymous, if you disagree with something I write, please provide some evidence to the contrary.

  5. One of the ancient Japan's maps even says that Dokdo is Korean's territory.