The Politics, Economics and Demographics of the Dokdo Region In 1905, and The Present
Why Modern Asia Cannot Go Back to the Colonial Era
The following page is intended to give the reader a clear picture of the situation on Ulleungdo Island before and during the time Japan annexed Dokdo Takeshima in 1905. From there we will compare the political, economic and demographics of this region and determine if Japan’s possession of Dokdo makes sense from a modern perspective. Dokdo Island is also referred to as Liancourt Rocks or Takeshima by Japan.
Why is it so important to explain the situation in 1905?
Japan bases her claim to Takeshima almost entirely on her 1905 “incorporation” of Liancourt Rocks. However can the boundary between Korea and Japan be redrawn to that of the early 20th Century? This page will examine the demographic and political differences between the Dokdo-Takeshima region during Japan’s 1905 annexation, and the reality of this area right now.
Can we move back the Republic of Korea’s modern territorial limit to the colonial era?
Detailed Maps of the Dokdo – Takeshima Region
Below we have some maps of the East Sea showing Korea, Japan and the related islands from the region. The other map shows Dokdo’s most proximate island Korea’s Ulleungdo. This map of Ulleungdo highlights the fishing ports on the island that rely on the waters surrounding Dokdo for their livelihood. On other pages of this series, we will see old photos from the early 20th Century and compare those with modern pictures to illustrate how Ulleungdo has developed since the colonial era.
The map above left shows Korea East Coast, the East Sea, Korea’s Ulleungdo, Dokdo and Japan’s Oki Islands next to Japan. To the right is a map of Korea’s Ulleungdo Isand. The major fishing towns of Hyeonpo, Sadong, Dodong and Jeodong are highlighted in red dots. click maps for higher image detail.
The Situation of the Dokdo-Takeshima Region Before 1905
Japanese Civilians Invade Korea’s Ulleungdo Island
“…How does Japan’s civilian invasion of Korea’s Ulleungdo relate to Dokdo Island (Takeshima)..?”
The civilian invasion of Korea’s Ulleungdo’s Island was the whole foundation for Japan’s involvement on Liancourt Rocks and later illegal incorporation of the island. Japanese squatters and poachers conducted their activities on Liancourt Rocks via Chosun’s Ulleungdo. In both Korean and Japanese historical records these Japanese trespassers were described as ignorant, violent an very aggressive. Japan’s Foreign Affairs Official himself stated the squatters resorted to brute force and were potential murderers. Through time, Chosun Administrators became afraid to govern over Ulleungdo Island.
One of these trespassers would be utilized by the Japanese government for what Japanese assert was a “legal” basis for their current claim to Dokdo Takeshima.
Nakai Yozaburo, (shown right) a Japanese squatter on Korea’s Ulleungdo filed for an application to lease the island claiming he was living on Liancourt Rocks and was occupying the islets. In reality his operation was conducted from Chosun’s Ulleungdo and the civilian incorporation was merely a “legal” cover (link) for Japan’s real ambitions to construct naval watchtowers on Liancourt Rocks (link)
Below we will see how Japan’s Foreign Minister Hayashi Gonsuke refused to remove these aggressive trespassers and then stationed Japanese police on Ulleungdo without the consent of the Korean government.
The 1899 Hwangseong Newspaper Report on Korea’s Ulleungdo Island
“..Japanese trespassers causing disturbances, logging, and harassing Koreans..”
The 1899 Hwangseong Newspaper Report on Ulleungdo gives general information about Chosun’s Ulleungdo and then gives a summary of a report prepared by E. Laporte, who worked at the Korean Customs Office in Busan and who went to Ulleungdo at the end of June 1899 to inspect the problem of Japanese illegal squatters and smugglers trespassing on the island. The article was written after a September 16 request by the Korean Foreign Ministry to Japan’s mission in Korea have the Japanese on Ulleungdo removed.
“…In 1895 (開國五百四年에), the Ministry of the Interior appointed island resident Bae Gye-ju as the Island Supervisor and had him manage the island. In the spring of this year (1899), Bae Gye-ju reported to the Ministry of Interior that Japanese had recently been arriving in large numbers and were cutting down trees, encroaching on residents, and causing disturbances and requested that the government establish law and order.
This prompted the Interior Ministry to request Sir John McLeavy Brown, chief commissioner of the Korean Customs Service, to dispatch one Westerner to the island to investigate the situation there.the exported goods include wood that is cut indiscriminately from all over the mountain, loaded onto ships, and carried away, the price is insufficient.
There are places on the island where about 200 Japanese have built houses and are living temporarily (squatting). They encroach on the locals and have inappropriate relations. When the Japanese sell goods, they pay only a negotiated fee of two percent, but no tax. In September of this year, the Interior Ministry, based on the above report, requested that the Foreign Ministry request the head of the Japanese mission in Korea to promise to set a date to remove the Japanese trespassing on the island and stop and prohibit the smuggling trade from non-trade ports…” (click picture for larger image)
These official complaints were recorded in the years just prior to Japan’s annexation of Liancourt Rocks. However, Japanese trespassing on Ulleungdo had been taking place for centuries before. The first wave of illegal settlers started during the mid to late 1800s (see link) when the Japan’s new Meiji dropped the former Shogunate’s islolationist policy that strictly forbid voyaging to Ulleungdo and Dokdo.
The image above is a picture of Japanese shrines located on Korea’s Ulleungdo Island in the early 20th Century. Dodong Harbour on Ulleungdo’s East coast had the largest concentration of Japanese residents on the island (click for larger image)
Japan’s Foreign Minister Hayashi to Korea:
“..Japanese Trespassers on Ulleungdo not Japan’s Responsibility…”
“..Illegal Japanese Tree Felling? Grant Japan logging rights…!”
The following documents describe how the situation on Ulleungdo was getting out of control. The Japanese now had about eight different settlements on Ulleungdo. Although Russia had been granted legal logging rights on Ulleungdo, Japanese squatters cut down trees indiscriminately. Hayashi refused to remove the Japanese trespassers and brazenly proposed Korea terminate Russia’s logging rights concession and sell it to Japan. This clearly illustrates how powerless Chosun was to Japan’s heavy handed approach in her dealings with Korea.
The documents above record the problems Korea was having with Japanese squatters and illegal loggers on Ulleungdo Island in the years prior to the annexation of Dokdo Island.
Japanese Government Records of Illegal Activities on Korea’s Ulleungdo Island
“…Aug. 19. 8.40 p.m. Koshi, Seoul.7
Under the circumstances as stated in your telegram 109 Imperial Govt. have decided to comply with request of Russian Govt. to prohibit Japanese cutting down trees in 鬱陵島 and you are hereby instructed to direct 在元山二等領事 or 在釜山領事官補 to dispatch one of his staff by quickest means to the island for the purpose of informing that problem. At the same time Imperial Govt. deem the present moment opportunity for demanding from Corean Govt. lease of 巨濟島 and you will make best effort confidentially to obtain our object at this juncture. We must take care, however, that our demand may not be used as a protest for any other power advancing similar demands upon Corea and consequently you will endeavour at the same time, to procure if possible, from Corean Govt. assurance that they shall not entertain any such demands.
Aoki, Tokio144. 高雄書記官 reports from 釜山 as follows:
After considerable difficulty he landed on 鬱陵島. Japanese on the island are about 100 in number and are settling at eight different places. Owing to hilly nature of the island and difficult communication he was not able to go round these places and had to leave order to Japanese through two chief men ordering all the Japanese in the island to leave it by 十一月三十日.
Seoul, 18/10. 2:30 p.m. (1899-10-18)
Aoki, Tokyo 152. With reference to 鬱陵島 question I think it is difficult to effect withdrawal of Japanese settlers from the island. They declared to leave island, but this will be only nominal as it is impossible for Japanese Authorities to superintend their withdrawal and moreover I have reason to believe that the settlers are there with recognition of Corean local authorities. Regarding concession for cutting trees I made an observation to Russian Charge d’Affaires as well as Corean Minister for Foreign Affairs that the best solution of the question would be that Russians to sell right to Japanese. Refer my 機密第九十六號信 dated 九月□日…”
Who was Hayashi Gonsuke? (林公使)
Hayashi Gonsuke, Japan’s Foreign Minister in Seoul was one of the officials responsible for coercing and intimidating the Korean government into signing the Japan Korea Protocol of February 23rd 1904 and the subsequent agreements that would set the stage for the outright annexation of the Korean nation. (See link) In fact, a March 1904 memorandum issued by Hayashi Gonsuke to Ito Hirobumi seems to be a blueprint for Japan’s expansionist policy in Korea for years to come.
Hayashi (shown to the right) also played an important role in opening up Korea for Japanese settlers by lobbying for Japanese land ownership. Hayashi Gonsuke was instrumental in the pushing forth of legislation for Japanese citizens to buy and settle on Korean territory.
He was a supporter of the Nagomori Plan presented by Nagamori Fujiyoshiro. Nagamori’s plan was intended to allow Japanese private citizens to circumvent treaty restrictions that banned land ownership outside of settlement zones. Hayashi Gonsuke also negotiated a secret agreement with Foreign Minister Yi Ha-Yong allowing Japanese nationals to make mortgage loans to Koreans secured by users rights on their lands. These mortgage deals had stipulations transferring ownership on the land if the Korean defaulted on the loan.
As the record above shows, Japan’s Foreign Affairs Minister Hayashi was informed of the desperate situation on Korea’s Ulleungdo Island.
“…So what was Hayashi’s response to Chosun’s demand to remove illegal Japanese squatters..?”
Rather than remove these people as the Korean government demanded, Hayashi simply ignored this request he concluded “these Japanese could not be evacuated” and “he had reason to believe local authorities recognized their presence there..” How he came to this conclusion we do not know. Hayshi’s solution would later be to illegally install Japanese police on Ulleungdo without consulting Korea.
Well before the Russo~Japanese War (1904~1905) the clandestine purchase of land by Japanese was well under way. Local authorities would often turn a blind eye to these transactions, formally requesting the Japanese to get off of the land, but doing nothing if they refused. This could have been the case on Korea’s Ulleungdo Island.
Hayshi’s political background explains why he refused to have illegal squatters on Ulleungdo removed. First, Hayashi was heavily in favour of the Japanese annexation over all of Korea. Also it is understood he was a strong supporter of Japanese ownership of land and immigration in Korea. By turning a blind eye to the Japanese trespassers on Ulleungdo he could effortlessly accomplish both aims.
Hayashi Knowingly Violates Japan – Korea Treaty Law
Japan Illegally Deploys Their Police on Korea’s Ulleungdo Island
In late 1901, Hayashi Gonsuke decided to take measures into his own hands and chose to station police on Ulleungdo rather than forcibly remove the Japanese trespassers. Hayashi described this as impossible although just 20 years earlier the Japanese had previously evacuated over 200 Japanese squatters. The number of Japanese who illegally lived on Ulleungdo now swelled to about 1000 people during peak fishing seasons.
By Hayashi’s own admission the Japanese on Ulleungdo were ignorant, tough and even potential murderers. He describes their use of brute force to resolve disputes. Also contained in this letter are references from previous Koreans who had the unenviable task of trying to administer over now chaotic Ulleungdo. It seems the Chosun governors on Ulleungdo now feared the worst and were afraid to govern over their own island. Hayashi gave Korea one option, allow the deployment of Japanese police either temporarily or permanently. What’s more shocking however, is his own admission this was not in compliance with Japan-Korea treaty regulations. As we will see even though Hayashi knew the stationing of Japanese Police was illegal, in the end he would refuse to remove them.
A Translation of Japan’s Deceitful Response to Korea’s Complaints
“…In earlier days, Ulleungdo was administered by a Do-Gam (Chosun government official) but now under the new administration the island is governed by a new country administrator named Gang Yeong-U. He is set to arrive on Ulleungdo soon as a result of the change the former Do-Gam has been relieved and now stays in Gyeongsan (Seoul) He was met with to gather information about this island’s (Ulleungdo) past and present situation. According to his summary, there was man named Bae-Gye-Ju who was a resident of Yeong-Jong Island near Incheon. He came to Ulleungdo 20 years ago with an ambitious plan to settle and develop the island. Unfortunately the island was uninhabited (said to be130ri in circumference) and transportation to and from (Korean) coastal areas was very difficult. This lead to (Bae-Gye-Ju) requesting Japanese voyages, he also went to Oki, Kobe and other areas personally to contract the exclusive sale of the island’s zelcova lumber. The gradually increased access to Ulleungdo island for the Japanese. In addition, this helped Koreans access the island, this became the foundation for settlement on Ulleungdo…”
“…So now the Korean population on Ulleungdo is between 5,000-6,000 and the Japanese inhabitants number between 300-400, It has even peaked at 1,000 Japanese people. The rise and fall of Japanese people on Ulleungdo is only related to the fishing season. Among those Japanese mentioned above about 30-40 of them have already built dwellings and are living as settlers. Many of these Japanese settlers are ignorant and tough. However, since there are no authorities controlling them (Japanese), any disputes between residents are resolved only through brute force and in worst cases even murder. Especially with Koreans they resorted to the use of physical force, therefore the island’s administrator had difficulty controlling the island…”
“…The matter of removing those Japanese living on Ulleungdo has been requested several times by the Korean government since this office has been established. Therefore, we sent our officials there twice to investigate the situation and they concluded that the relationship between Korean Ulleungdo residents and our Japanese citizens has developed over the last decades and has grown even stronger these days. For this reason, even if they (Japanese) are removed it’s only natural to assume that more and more people will return (to Ulleungdo). To discuss how things have reached this point, as Administrator Bae cited, it was those (Koreans) who requested to seek transportation convenience through the development of the island who are responsible. Therefore, at this point, the Imperial Government of Japan has no obligation to remove these Japanese from Ulleungdo Island. Rather, we have concluded it’s only fair to deem this problem a responsibility of the Korean government….”
“…Last year, in confidential memorandum #54 of July 4th, a detailed report was written of my personal views on this matter. That year on July 18th our (Japan’s) government replied with official instructions of confidential memorandum #36. With these instructions in mind, this (Japan’s) office immediately asked the Korean government via attached letter A and received a (Korea’s) reply of letter B saying that Chosun’s government can’t agree with our recommendations. As as result this office sent attached letter C and explained why it is absurd to prompt us to remove Japanese residents particularly from Ulleungdo, while foreign missionaries are allowed to live in Korea. It is also stated (by Japan) that the act of our Japanese people’s living on Ulleungdo is excluded from treaty regulations. We also replied that it is the Korean authorities of Ulleungdo who are to blame for the problems that have developed there and thus the Korean government should be held responsible…” (cont)
Above right: This picture shows the Japanese Police stationed on Korea’s Ulleungdo Island near the turn of the 20th Century. These police were installed without the consent of the Korean government to “control” Japanese trespassers on the Ulleungdo.
“…But about a year has passed since our last letter from September 12th of last year and until today we”ve had no response from the Korean government and this could be only interpreted to mean you have no rebuttal to our assertions from our previous correspondence. Before the new administrator came into office, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pak Je-Sun discussed with the secretary any possible measures to deal with Japanese on Ulleungdo. The Minister said that the would-be County Administrator feared that terrible things may happen as these Japanese residents are so violent. He had heard from the former chief (Bae-gye-ju) how difficult it had been to control Ulleungdo due to Japanese behavior there. The secretary met with the new administrator and told him that they would seek proper measures. Yet later the new administrator (Gang Yeong U) visited the office once again to talk to the secretary. In response our office offered two options through the secretary; Korea can either allow us to station Japanese police (on Ulleungdo Island) temporarily every year, or permanently. To this offer the it seems the administrator said he would like such measures be taken as soon as possible…”
“…Thus, in light of Baek Gye Ju’s recorded dialogue, and also in order to ascertain the intentions of your (Korean) government if we implement laws for our Japanese people on the island (Ulleungdo) we believe we can watch and control their behavior. We then could achieve mutual harmony between the island’s (Ulleungdo’s) residents (Japanese and Koreans) and there won’t be any need to remove them. These laws seem to work best if we incorporate this island (Ulleungdo) into the Japanese Empire’s consulate police district in Pusan or Wonsan. We could then dispatch a police administrator along with perhaps two police officers on Ulleungdo every six months or year having fixed alternating deployment periods. This is comparable to the system we have in Gaesoeng which is under the jurisdiction of our consulate’s police district in Seoul. Since there are 50~60 Japanese residents, we have a police station there and dispatch officers to stay watching our people’s behaviour. We acknowledge under treaty law, this is not a given right Japan can impose upon your government but in reality the Korean government has tacitly consented on this and has never raised an objection. Therefore, if this Ulleungdo matter can be considered as the same and our Japanese police can be stationed there, as justification for watching our people’s behavior, the problems on Ulleungdo will naturally be resolved. Accordingly, this will prevent trouble, like having to forcibly remove our (Japanese) I’ve written the circumstances so far asking for your opinion, hoping you would consider what the minister said earlier and use your position for support…”
October 13th, 1902 Korea Unsuccessfully Protests to Japan Again
“..Remove Japanese Trespassers and Police From Ulleungdo..!”
The Japanese police were installed in April of 1902 and the Korean government objected in the fall of the same year on October 13th. Once again Chosun demanded both the removal of Japanese police and trespassers. The Koreans also showed their concern that the Japanese police were being unfair in their treatment of the Koreans on Ulleungdo.
The images above are the original documents recording Korea’s unsuccessful attempts to have the Japanese government remove illegal Japanese squatters from Ulleungdo Island. (translation below)
“…Regarding the forcible removal of Japanese nationals residing on Ulleungdo. This matter was enquired about several times during Minister Pak’s tenure. On September 7th of 1900, in inquiry number 64, there were 4 rebuttals. But in the letter of your reply received on September 12th of the same year no responses to the four rebuttals were found.
Instead your (Japanese) letter only stated “…The regulation that foreign residents are prohibited from living outside of open ports or cities does not only apply to Japanese and Korean agreements, it also applies to other friendly nations of yours. However why does your (Korean) government demand our Japanese to leave Ulleungdo while the Korean government allows other foreign missionaries to roam freely? Our (Japanese) diplomatic office can’t understand. Unless the Korean government removes all foreign residents from outside of the treaty designated open areas, our Japanese office can hardly consider removing Japanese nationals from your Ulleungdo Island…” (continued)
“…In response to your aforementioned statements, As to the foreign missionaries who travel around our country (Korea) Every one of the numerous countries made sure they submitted official documents before we issued them travel passes in accordance with the specific laws. These foreign nationals travel around the country with the travel passes issued by our (Korean) government. This is possible because there is an article in our treaties stating “foreigners of these countries are permitted to travel with this particular visa…” Also foreign missionaries of these particular countries are teaching languages etc., in accordance with article number 9 of Korean law and treaties.
The foreigners who reside temporarily in Korean houses cannot be compared to those (Japanese) who buy Korean homes for trade (illegally) around the country. Under these conditions the number of Japanese who come and go for the purpose of medical work or business affairs cannot be calculated. However, they could be justified when we consider other previous examples such as missionaries. But these Japanese who reside on Ulleungdo came in illegally without the correct visas. They are building houses, cultivating the land, logging indiscriminately, and encroaching upon our (Korean) citizens. All of these activities are by no means legal….” (continued)
“…I have been waiting for years because I expected your government to send an official to evacuate your (Japanese) citizens and make new laws banning the above. Still no actions have been taken yet and this is not what we expected from your government. Also the report from the Gangwando Inspector says “…The Japanese government has stationed police on Ulleungdo and when there is a dispute between a Korean and Japanese national they simply arrest the Korean and sentence him…” From what this report says the stationing of Japanese police on Korean land is a clear violation of treaty law. We fear other countries may follow your example. Thus I am making this urgent request to express our deep regret.
I request your office to look into this matter, report in detail to your government, and withdraw your police (from Ulleungdo). I also request your office to urge the nearest consulate to call back your citizens and comply with the purpose of our treaty. Please be mindful of our friendly relations…”
Above left: This Japanese prayer altar was located in Sadong on Korea’s Ulleungdo Island in the early 20th Century. The Japanese had villages all over Ulleungdo before the Japanese annexed Liancourt Rocks in 1905. (click image)
October 29th, 1902 Japan’s Minister Hayashi to the Korean Government
Japan Again Refuses to Remove Trespassers and Police
Japan’s letter to the Koreans highlights Hayashi Gonsuke’s shocking sense of entitlement to Korean land. Hayashi blames Korea for this mess and insists Chosun should be grateful for the Japanese “opening up Ulleungdo” by their voyages to the region. In reality the Japanese were illegally logging on the island since the 1800s, dodging taxes, paying well below market price and exporting the timber to Japan. In his earlier correspondence to Korea he concedes that Japan has no right to station police on Ulleungdo and yet when the Korean government demanded their removal, he simply ignored their request and said they would “issue a warning” to the offending policeman. Nowhere in Hayashi’s reply does he consider Chosun’s demands to vacate Korean Ulleungdo Island. It mattered little, in a little over a year later, the whole Korean peninsula would be occupied by Japanese Imperial Army soldiers when the Russo-Japanese War would start.
“…I understand what letter #115 from the 13th of this month points out. In this letter you demanded the removal of our (Japanese) citizens living on Ulleungdo and commented on the stationing of Japanese police on the island. The matter of removing our people from the island was dealt with in our discussion of two years ago. Since you didn’t respond to our final official letter #99 from September of that year, we believed that your government simply accepted this situation. We are quite surprised to receive another letter from you regarding this matter. The origin of Japanese settlement dates back to ten years ago when the former administrator Bae Gye Ju planned the development of the then uninhabited island. In order to achieve this goal he went to our country personally to request our people’s voyaging to Ulleungdo Island for the exclusive right to trade ash trees growing naturally there. That was the beginning of Japanese voyages. Since that time your citizens also voyaged to Ulleungdo and finally made what the island has become today. In other words, it’s not an exaggeration to say the development was made by our (Japanese) people’s voyages.
In light the above, it is only right that your government look for measures to take care of these Japanese residents more. But instead, now that some gains are near, your government is demanding their (Japanese citizens) removal simply insisting on the terms of our treaty law. This only shows your government’s lack of consideration about the history of Ulluendo’s development. In other words, our office is asking you to take into account the historical background of the island’s development. The dispatching and stationing of our Japanese police on Ulleungdo resulted from when Bak Jae Sun during his tenure requested measures to control our (Japanese) people residing there around the time Gang Yeong U was about to begin administering on Ulleungdo. Today your government is accusing us of “treaty violation” and this is absurd. When your letter comes to the part where “…when there is a dispute between a Korean and a Japanese the police simply take the liberty of arresting the Korea and interrogating him…” we find it impossible to believe our policemen would do such a thing. I’m sure there must have been a mistake but to be sure we will have the police supervisor issue a warning and speak to this policeman. Therefore we’d also like your government to talk to the governor of the island and urge him to carefully enforce the general law and administration, and especially police affairs on Ulleungdo. With this report we look forward to hearing from your valued opinion…”
Japan’s 1902 Report Regarding the Sitation on Ulleungdo
“Japanese squatters on Ulleungdo ignorant, violent and out of control…”
In the year 1902 a Japanese Report on Ulleungdo described in detail how Japanese squatters were running roughshod over the native Korean population. The situation deteriorated to the point were Japanese police had to be stationed on Ulleungdo to control the illegal immigrants who violated Korean territory.
The General Situation of Japanese Residents:
“…As more and more (Japanese) people came to live here, (Korea’s Ulleungdo) it was only natural that bad people also came, which created a need for regulation. This lead people to organize the so-called, Japanese Association of Commerce (日商組合?), which appointed two people to help protect the residents. However, as the population contiued to grew rapidly, it became impossible to sort out the problems with that method of law enforcement. Moreover, since the most of the transients were ignorant and illiterate, two groups of people developed. The strong subjugated the weak, and the wise tricked the ignorant. Also, there was an extreme case, in which a bad person used a dangerous weapon to forcefully seize property.
The good people were deeply distressed by the bad people since there was no one to restrain them. Therefore, in July in the 24th year of Meiji (1902), important people in the community who were concerned with the situation held a meeting with the ordinary people, and they decided to reorganize the association. To eliminate the old, bad habits, they agreed to appoint a chairman and a vice-chairman, both without salary, and one paid superintendent…” (continued)
“…They also agreed to elect 15 honored assemblymen to work under them and deal with the problems and incidents that occurred through a process of council and judgement. The association tried hard to enforce the statutes. For example, they put criminals in a newly created detention center to try to get them to repent their crimes, and they sent people who had committed serious crimes back to the nearest police station in the homeland (Japan).
On January 4th of this year, a dispute erupted two groups. The former head of the association tried to disrupt the association, by convincing many of the lumbermen and other workers to leave the association and come over to his side. The present head tried everything he could to settle the dispute through arbitration, but he failed and ultimately accepted their leaving. Thus, all the Japanese residents on the island divided into two groups of people. More than three fourths of the residents left the association and only one-fourth remained.
The two groups became hostile to each other not only in business dealings, but also in everyday dealings. Though the association shrank and was less prosperous, they continued to maintain order and never succumbed to the majority opposition. Then on April 23th of this year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) decided to establish a police substation on the island…“
Above left: Another photo of the numerous Japanese prayer altars on Korea’s Ulleungdo Island. Note how the mountains in the distance are void of trees. By the turn of the 20th Century much of Ulleungdo’s “luxurious forests” had disappeared
Ulleungdo Island’s Demographics in 1902
The Location and Number of Illegal Japanese Settlements on Ulluengdo in 1902
The image on the below right is the Japanese Report on Ulleungdo. It shows the number of Japanese and Korean households on Ulleungdo around 1902. The 1905 map below left shows where the Japanese squatters had built “temporary villages” (日本人部落居留) scattered all over Ulleungdo Island before the Japanese “incorporated” Liancourt Rocks. These illegal settlements are marked by a double circle on the map the single circle indicates Korea villages. This map also shows the Japanese Imperial Navy’s watch towers (望樓) built on Ulleungdo during the Russo~Japanese War 1904~1905.
Dodong (道洞) – 27 Korean; 36 Japanese
Bokdong (伏洞) – 10 Korean; 2 Japanese
Jungryeong (中嶺) – 30 Korean; 2 Japanese
Tonggumi (通龜尾) – 20 Korean; 5 Japanese
Gul-am (窟巖) – 7 Korean
Sanmak-gok (山幕谷) – 26 Korean
Hyangmokdong (香木洞) – 17 Korean
Sinchon (新村) – 35 Korean; 1 Japanese
Chusan (錐山) – 7 Korean; 1 Japanese
Cheonnyeon-po (千年浦) – 6 Korean
Cheonbudong (天府洞) – 16 Korean
Jongseokdong (亭石洞) – 20 Korean
Naesujeon (乃守田) – 11 Korean; 2 Japanese
Sagongnam (砂工南) – 2 Korean
Sadong (沙洞) – 40 Korean; 2 Japanese
Sinri (新里) – 7 Korean
Ganryeong (間嶺) – 10 Korean
Namyangdong (南陽洞) – 57 Korean; 9 Japanese
Sucheung (水層) – 1 Korean; 1 Japanese
Daehadong (臺霞洞) – 34 Korean; 6 Japanese
Hyeon-po (玄浦) – 50 Korean
Gwangam (光岩) – 10 Korean
Naridong (羅里洞) – 30 Korean
Changdong (昌洞) – 6 Korean; 2 Japanese
Jukam (竹岩) – 11 Korean; 5 Japanese
Wadalli (臥達里) – 2 Korean
Jeodong (苧洞) – 62 Korean; 5 Japanese
Why Japan Can’t Have Dokdo – Takeshima, The Dokdo Region in 1905 and Now
The Demographics of the Ulleungdo-Dokdo Region, 1905 and Now
A few documents from around 1905 paint a clear picture of Ulleungdo Island at this time. First the survey from the 1902 Japanese Situation shows us Japanese squatters had settlements all over Ulleungdo Island by 1902. Even Japanese diplomatic records describe some of these people as ignorant, aggressive and even violent criminals. As Foreign Minister in Seoul Hayashi Gonsuke stated “these Japanese solved disputes through the use of physical force…”
One Japanese report tells us the Japanese residents amounted to about 20% of the total population. However, in the spring, hundreds of Japanese fishermen would swarm Ulleungdo Island and their population would reach about one thousand. Today about ten thousand Koreans live on Ulleungdo Island and administer over Dokdo and Ulleungdo from the district office in Dodong on Ulleung Island.
The Politics of the Ulleungdo-Dokdo Region, 1905 and Now.
Even before the early 1900s Korea had lost control of the situation on Ulleungdo. The above correspondences show us Japanese squatters had overwhelmed the Korean residents. The Korean government had demanded the removal of these illegal Japanese residents numerous times but Japan’s government simply ignored their demands.
By 1902 Ulleungdo Island was controlled by Japanese police. In 1904, during the Russo Japanese War, Ulleungdo island was occupied by Japanese Naval Troops and three military watch towers and telegraph lines were installed. Only months after Japan annexed Dokdo 1905 the Japanese has secured access to Koreas coastal and inland waters. (see docs below) Of course, these days Ulleungdo Gun administers over both Ulleungdo Island and Dokdo. Unlike 1905 Japan does not have the right to fish and voyage in Korean waters.
The above documents from the American Foreign Affairs Office describe how Hayshi managed to secure access to Korea’s coastal and inland waters for Japan only months after Japan annexed Dokdo. Also documented in detail is Japan’s recently gained “right ” of supervision over all Korean foreign affairs.
Why Japan Can’t Have Dokdo Takeshima: A Conclusion
“Korea Will Not Return to Japan’s Colonial Era..!!”
It’s not an exaggeration to say, Ulleungdo Island was well on its way to becoming a Japanese island well before Japan’s Imperial Navy annexed Liancourt Rocks in 1905. The politics and demographics had long since transformed Chosun’s ancient Ulleungdo into a Japanese colony. Gradually it came to the point Koreans could no longer compete and they were gradually pushed out of Ulleungdo. In reality when Japan seized Liancourt Rocks in 1905 there really was no boundary between Korea and Japan at all. Japanese squatters, smugglers, poachers and trespassers had unimpeded access to Ulleungdo’s natural resources and surrounding waters. This was the historical backdrop to Japan’s past, (and thus current) claim to Dokdo Takeshima. As mentioned, one of these illegal squatters on Korea’s Ulleungdo named Nakai Yozaburo became the whole basis for Japan’s incorporation of Liancourt Rocks . (link1) (link2)
Under international law, possession of Dokdo Takeshima will determine the modern boundary between Japan and Korea. Today the Japanese government wishes to again define Korea’s territorial limits based on the historical circumstances of 1905. This is not a practical approach to settling the Dokdo Takeshima problem. It’s also an unacceptable premise for establishing the present-day Japan Korea maritime limits.
Japan’s MOFA wishes to drag Korea back to the colonial era and contain the residents of Ulleungdo-Korea to a fraction of their current maritime limits. Japan aspires to extend Shimane Prefecture’s territory to the front doorstep of an island known as Korean land since the 6th Century. History teaches us that national boundaries are not static but fluid. Redrawing the maritime limits of Korea back to the colonial era is no different than trying to resurrect former Communist USSR. Korea and Japan can solve the Dokdo Takeshima issue only when Japan finally accepts the situation in northeast Asia is radically different from that of 1905.