[Bronze Prize Winners] Historical Evidence Confirms Dokdo Is Korean Territory
At present, Koreans and Japanese use the names Dokdo and Takeshima respectively to refer to the island. But, before these names were adopted, a wide variety of names were used to refer to Dokdo in both Korea and Japan. Korea has long recognized Dokdo as part of its territory since the Three Kingdoms' Period, starting with a mention in the Samguk Sagi (the Record of Three Kingdoms) in 512 A.D.
Although referred to by several different names throughout ancient times, such as Usando, Gajido, Seokdo and others, the description of the island and its waters have remained the same, all the way down to the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910).
In 1905, a period just before the colonization of Korea, Japan persisted their right to the islets. Korea had no power to resist the claim because of the situation. Things got messy as Korea grew weak and Japan first took over the small island and consequently, the whole country five years later. After three and a half decades of long struggle, Korea was finally liberated from Japan at the end of the Second World War in 1945. According to The Cairo Declaration resulting from the end of World War II, all territories Japan had stolen from Korea including Dokdo should be restored and South Korea has controlled them since July 1954.
Therefore, time records support that Dokdo is Korean.
It has been noted that the Japanese had also previously used a variety of names for the island, such as Matsushima, Riyangkoto and Takeshima. It would not be until 1905 that the Japanese adopted the name Takeshima for Dokdo. Actually, Dokdo is not a single island, but a group of islands. It consists of two main islands, Dongdo (East Island) and Seodo (West Island), around which 89 smaller rocks are scattered. The area of Dongdo is 73,297 square meters, and Seodo has an area of 88,639 square meters.
So the total area of Dokdo is 187,453 square meters. Dokdo means ``lonely island." These days, however, the term ``lonely" is hardly the word to describe the rocky island. With Japan's ongoing challenges over the sovereignty of the island since the early 20th century and the succeeding media attention that has raised public awareness of the island, this once lonely place has lately been receiving a lot of attention. Also it has a hot commodity with enormous economic potential and strategic importance.
The islets themselves are barely habitable; the Exclusive Economic Zone surrounding them has abundant fish resources and also a massive amount of methane hydrate, phosphate rocks, natural gas, deep sea water and other precious mineral resources. However, a wide variety of fish as well as seaweed, kelp, sea slugs, and clams are located around the Dokdo islets.
There is no doubt that it has a unique ecosystem. Producing a small amount of fresh water, its volcanic surfaces, partially covered with thin soil and moss, serve as a habitat for about 70 to 80 species of plants, 22 species of birds, and 37 species of insects. The island's surrounding waters, where cold and warm ocean currents meet, is also home to a diverse community of marine organisms, including seals and as many as 100 species of fish.
Actually, Korea and Japan have a long, complex history of cultural exchange, war, and political rivalry. The islets are the last disputed territory between Korea and Japan following World War II.
Korea and Japan's territorial dispute over Dokdo is a highly emotional and complex issue in the minds of Koreans. The dispute has created turmoil and trouble in diplomatic relations between Korea and Japan for the past 50 years, ever since Korea was liberated from Japanese colonialism. It is obvious that, if territorial issues were thrust to the forefront of bilateral relations, the two nations would face a dilemma in addressing other issues.
But the Koreans think that it does not make any sense. It's because the island has been regarded as a part of the Korean Peninsula since the Silla period. In addition, it is much closer to the Korean mainland than Japan's; the islets are 87 kilometers away from Korea and 200 kilometers from Japan.
The Koreans believe that Dokdo is a symbol of South Korea's liberation and return to self-rule after World War II. It carries great symbolic importance for Koreans because it constitutes Korea's easternmost national territory.
Moreover, they think Dokdo is not only part of Korean territory but also their own soil of historic significance where 40 years of painful history is engraved vividly.
So the historical evidence confirms that, based on the facts above, Dokdo is a Korean territory.
The writer is a student at Pukyong National University in Busan. He came to Korea to attend the university two years ago.