• Dokdo in the East Sea
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  • Junior High School Version

Enrichment: How and when did Dokdo get its name?[Teacher Notes]

Ulleungdo and Dokdo were originally part of the country of Usan, but came under the rule of Silla after being conquered by General Isabu. During the Goryeo period, Dokdo was called Usando. It was sometimes referred to as Sambongdo during the reign of King Seongjong in the Joseon period. An Yong-bok called the island Jasando during the reign of King Sukjong in the Joseon period. [note 017]During the reign of King Jeongjo in the Joseon period, the islet was named Gajido due to[note 018] the island being a habitat for a type of sea lion called Gaji. The island was a habitat for the gaji sea lioni.
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By the end of the nineteenth century, Ulleungdo underwent major changes and many people began to live there. These pioneers called the rock islets now known as Dokdo by a regional variation, “Doksum.” When expressing the Korean words “dol” and “dok” in Chinese characters, they become “seok” (石) and “dok” (獨). Hence, the rock islets came to be known as Seokdo (石島) or Dokdo (獨島).
How did westerners refer to Dokdo in their native languages? The first known instance of a western name for Dokdo dates to 1849. At the time, a French whaling ship, the Le Liancourt, came close to being shipwrecked on the rock islands. Convinced that they were the first to discover the islands, they decided to name the islands after their ship. They submitted these findings in a report to the French Navy upon their return to France in 1850. Nautical charts published from 1851 marked the exact location of the islands, which were referred to as “Rochers Liancourt”(Liancourt Rocks).
What did people in Japan call Dokdo? In 1667, the Japanese official Saitō Toyonobu called the islands Matsushima (Songdo: 松島) in the text Records on Observations on Oki. From then on it continued to be referred to as Matsushima until 1905, when the Japanese cabinet issued Public Notice No. 40 and changed Dokdo to Takeshima and Ulleungdo to Matsushima.
Summary
1. Dokdo is comprised of the two main islets Seodo and Dongdo, and there are an additional 89 small rock islets. Located at the eastern end of Korea, Dokdo’s eastern longitudinal boundary is at 131°52′22″.
2. Dokdo is in the Korean domain, and its territorial waters extend out 12 nautical miles from Dokdo’s island limits. An additional 200 nautical mile economic zone is guaranteed. Due to its proximity to the Japanese domain, both countries have agreed to select the economic zone from between Dokdo and the Oki islands.
3. Dokdo’s address is North Gyeongsang-do, Ulleung County, Ulleung-eup, Dokdo-ri and its postal code is 799-805. The total area is 187,554 square meters.
4. Dokdo is located 87.4 kilometers southwest of Ulleungdo and 157.5 kilometers northwest of the Oki Islands. The distance to Ulleungdo is 70.1 kilometers closer than the distance to the Oki Islands.
5. In Korea in the past, Dokdo has been called Usando, Jasando, Gajido, and Seokdo. In western countries, the islet has been called the Liancourt Rocks. In Japan, the islet has been called Matsushima and Takeshima.
 

 
[note 017]
Although the name is written as Usando, in Comprehensive Study of Civilization, Revised and Expanded, that name is firmly believed to be a misnomer due to the Chinese characters for u (于) and ja (子) being very similar in appearance.
[note 018]
A species of sea lions.
Teacher Notes
The many names of Dokdo are covered in Enrichment (Korean, Japanese, and French/English). Students will learn the origins of the different names, and in turn be able to explain how and why the different names came to exist. It is important to encourage critical thinking about whether this phenomena appears in other regions, as well.
The name “Sambongdo” appears frequently during the reign of King Seongjong in the Joseon period. Although the name referred primarily to Ulleungdo, it is important to note that this place name sometimes referred to Dokdo, as well.
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[note 017] Jasando
Although the name is written as Usando, in Comprehensive Study of Civilization, Revised and Expanded, that name is firmly believed to be a misnomer due to the Chinese characters for u (于) and ja (子) being very similar in appearance.
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[note 018] Gaji
A species of sea lions.
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