Korea called in China's ambassador on Monday and lodged a formal protest against reported remarks by a senior Beijing official that laid jurisdictional claim to a submerged Korean outcropping of rock in the waters south of Jeju Island, Seoul officials said Monday.
The issue surrounding Ieodo recently surfaced after local media reported Liu Xigui, chief of China's State Oceanic Administration, claimed in an interview with China's Xinhua news that the outcropping lies under Beijing's jurisdictional boundary.
Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Jae-shin called in Chinese Ambassador Zhang Xinsen earlier in the day and protested against the reported remarks.
"During the meeting, Deputy Foreign Minister Kim told Ambassador Zhang that South Korea won't accept an attempt by the Chinese side to exert its jurisdictional right over Ieodo," a senior ministry official said on the condition of anonymity.
Kim also made it clear that Ieodo is under Korean control "even though the two nations have yet to demarcate their economic exclusive zones" because it is closer to Korea.
Earlier in the day, Seoul's foreign ministry also called in a diplomat at the Chinese embassy in Seoul and vowed to take firm action if China continues to lay jurisdictional claim on Ieodo.
"At the meeting, we stated our position that we will have no choice but to take firm action if the Chinese government exerts its jurisdictional right over Ieodo," another senior ministry official told Yonhap News Agency by telephone after attending the meeting.
Ieodo, submerged 4.6 meters, lies within the overlapping exclusive economic zones of South Korea and China. Although an international maritime law stipulates that a submerged rock cannot be claimed as territory by any country, South Korea effectively controls Ieodo, which is closer to it than any other country.
South Korea has taken steps to reinforce its jurisdictional control over the islet and in 2003 built an unmanned maritime research station on it to monitor weather conditions and survey maritime features in the area.
Ieodo is located 149 kilometers southwest of Korea's southernmost island of Marado and 247 kilometers northeast of the nearest Chinese island Tongdao. (Yonhap)