“…The party of fifty people arrived at Takeshima at 8 a.m. on the 27th, as we have already reported. They soon landed and dozens of people from various fields of study began their investigative work. As previously rumored, there were pods of sea lions living on the island, so the party caught ten of them, including a live one. Some were caught with a net or guns, and some were clubbed. They loaded three of them on the ship and departed at 2:30 p.m. They saw laver growing at the island.
They arrived at Ulleungdo’s Jeodong (芋洞) at about 8 p.m. Some disembarked right away when Japanese policemen, the postmaster, and other people from Dodong (道洞) came on two boats to welcome the party. It was arranged that some of the party would stay at Postmaster Kataoka’s house while the rest would stay on the steamship and wait until daybreak to land.
They all went to visit the County Head (郡守), and a Japanese police seargent acted as interpreter. They asked about the situation of the island. Then part of them investigated the interior of the island while part of them investigated the coast. They departed the island at 8 p.m., and they arrived at Saigo (Oki) the next day at 4:30 p.m. They attended a welcoming party organized by officals and the people. At 10 a.m. the next morning, they left and at 3:30 p.m. arrived at Sakai, where they soon changed steamships. They arrived at the prefectural office at 7 p.m. Department Head Jinzai (神西) stayed at Oki with two staff members, Nakajima and Ohno, to investigate the island (Oki).
One of the three sea lions they got at Takeshima was cooked on the ship, one was given to the Uleungdo County Head, and the last one was brought back to be used as the subject of hygiene study and is now at the hygiene laboratory at the docks.
When he visited the county head of Ulleungdo, Department Head Jinzai (神西) said, “I’m an official from Shimane Prefecture of the Japanese Empire. Your island and Takeshima, which is under our jurisdiction, are near each other. Also, many Japanese are staying on your island, so we hope you watch over them. If we had planned on coming here, we would have brought you a suitable gift, but because we happened to come here for refuge, we do not have one. Fortunately, we have a sea lion here we caught at Takeshima. We would like to give this to you as a gift, and we would consider it very fortunate if you would accept it.”
The county head answered, “Concerning the Japanese people who are staying on this island, I will do what it takes to protect them. I will also accept your gift of the sea lion. If it tastes good, I hope you will give me another one sometime…”
It’s almost shocking how Shimane’s Prefecture’s Jinzai mentions the large number of Japanese civilians (trespassers) and even suggests the Governor “..watch over them..” Japanese officials walked at will on all areas of Korea’s Ulleungdo without needing special permission. The fact this Japanese party offered a paltry gift of cooked seal, could be interpreted as somewhat disrespectful. Certainly it’s not an appropriate gift to foreign dignitaries greeting another government official.
All of the above facts suggest Korea (Ulleungdo) was under the control of Japan already by 1906, certainly not on equal footing. These reasons may be why Uldo County Governor Shim Heung Taek didn’t protest directly upon hearing the news Chosun territory had been annexed by Japan. To the left above, Uldo Governor Shim Heung Taek poses with the Japanese party on Ulleungdo. Notice he holds the Korean flag, some have said this was a quiet display of protest over Japanese involvment in the Ulleungdo region.
“…Dokdo belonging to this county is located in the sea 100 ri from this county. A Japanese steamship moored at Todongp’o in Udo on the 4th day of the month about 8:00 a.m and a group of Japanese Officials came to my office and said, “We came to inspect Dokdo since it is now Japanese territory…”
The group included official Zinzai, of Oki Island in Shimane prefecture, Director Yoshida Meigo of the Tax Supervision Bureau, police sub-station chief, Inspector Kageyama Iwahachiro, one policeman, one local assemblyman, a doctor and a technician and about a dozen ‘followers, They have come for the purpose of finding out firstly, the number of households, population, and land production, and secondly, the number of personnel and expenditure. The record having being made, we submit this report for your reference.
Lunar March 5, 10th year of Kwangmu (1906)….”
“…Order No.3 by the Daehan Empires Governor I have read this report. Their word that Dokdo has become Japanese territory is a totally unfounded allegation, recheck the island and action of Japanese people…”
The visit to Ullungdo by the Zinzai party was well known, but this data has not been examined in Japan at all. In the dispute with Korea, the Japanese government even doubted the existence of this document itself. As its basis, a Japanese scholar writes that one sea lion caught on Takeshima was presented to the County Chief, who thanked them for the gift. Such a treatment would not have happened if the County Chief had considered Takeshima as I belonging to Ullungdo.
But, that is to ignore the difficult situation Ullungdo was faced with at that time. At this time, Japanese soldiers and police were permanently stationed on Ullungdo and more than 300 Japanese lived in and around Todong where the county office was located. (see pic) The fact that Zinzai and his party investigated at will the number of households, population and geographical features in the foreign territory of Ullungdo graphically illustrates the one-sided power relations of that time. If County Chief Sim did not openly raise objection to Zinzai and his party on the territorial problem, it was due to the pressure from the Japanese. His courteous treatment of the Japanese did not mean that he approved Zinzai remarks. This also does not justify the Japanese denial of this data itself.
“…May 1st 1906, Uldo governor Shim Heung Taek reported to the Domestic Affairs Office that some Japanese officials came to Ulluengdo Island and claimed Dokdo as Japanese territory, surveyed the island and then counted the number of households. In response to (Shim Hueng Taek’s) the report, the Domestic Affairs office stated “It is not unusual for those Japanese Officials to inspect Ulleungdo Island while they were traveling in the area. However their claiming Dokdo as Japanese territory does not make sense at all. We find the Japanese claim shocking…”
Throughout his life Hwang Hyeon kept a diary called the Macheon Yarok. Found within its text is a reference about Japan’s illegal annexation of Dokdo Island. The text of his diary entry is quite similar to newspaper articles protesting Japan seizure of Dokdo. It’s not known whether Hwang Hyeon reiterated media reports or if he had heard it from other Korean citizens.
Hwang Hyeon’s May 1906, Macheon Yarok entry reads as follows:
距鬱陵島洋東百里 有一島 曰獨島 舊屬鬱陵島 倭人勒稱其領地 審査以去
”…About 100 ri East of Ulleungdo there is a small island called Dokdo. Since long ago, this island has belonged to Ulleungdo. However, Japanese came and surveyed the island insisting without grounds it was their territory…”
These days some of those who support Japan’s claim to Dokdo assert this newspaper article is proof Korea excluded Dokdo from Uldo County. Japanese lobbyists insist the dimensions given in the Korean Home Ministry’s response would have excluded Dokdo Island from Chosun territory. However, studying the related historical maps and records, their conclusion is incorrect. Below is the original document, an English translation and a breif analysis of this record.
統監府에서 內部에 公函하되 江原道 三陟郡 管下에 所在 鬱陵島에 所属島嶼와 郡廳設始 年月을 示明하라는 故로 答函하되、光武二年五月二十日에 鬱陵島監으로 設始 하였다가 光武四年十月二十五日에 政府會議를 經由하야 郡守를 配置하니 郡廳은 台霞洞에 在하고 該郡所管島는 竹島石島오、東西가 六十里오 南北이 四十里니, 合 二百餘里라고 하였다더라.
Facts on Arrangement of Uldo County
The Resident-General sent an official letter to the Interior Ministry asking it to clarify what islands belonged to Ulleungdo, which is under the administration of Samcheok County in Gangwon Province, and the year and month the county office was established. The response was that the post of Ulleungdo Administrator was established on May 20, 1898, and then on October 25, 1900, the government decided to post a county magistrate with the county office being at Daehadong (台霞洞). It said the islands under the authority of the said county were Jukdo (竹島) and Seokdo (石島), and that it was sixty ri from east to west and forty ri from north to south for a total of 200 ri.
It is certain that many Korean people learned through this newspaper coverage of the Japanese move to incorporate Takeshima/Tokdo into its territory and must have read it as an aggression into Korean territory. For example, Hwang Hyon who lived in Kurye, Chollado, at that time writes in a note that “the Japanese are making a false statement that Tokdo belongs to Japan while it is our own territory….”
The documented Japanese Surveys of Dokdo undertaken by the Japanese Imperial Navy can be seen on these pages (link1), (link 2), (link3). That is why no further development could be made within the Korean government to cope with the problem of Takeshima – Dokdo.
As the entire country was being robbed of its sovereignty and vanishing, the problem of the ownership of a small rocky island was hurled away. However, that the Korean people clearly raised objection to the Japanese action of incorporating Takeshima/Tokdo is a decisively important fact worthy of historical evaluation.