• Dokdo in the East Sea
  • Educational material
  • Junior High School Version

3 Chapter Reference


1 Dokdo in Historical Records


Historical evidence of a Korean government’s sovereignty over Dokdo dates as far back as the sixth century. Ulleungdo was part of a small kingdom known as Usan prior to the Three Kingdoms period. Ulleungdo and Dokdo were part of Usan’s territory. Usan was a mountainous region with very little flat land, and the majority of its people were farmers or fishermen. Although the level of culture among Usan citizens was low compared to that of people residing on the mainland, they frequently exchanged culture with Silla citizens and spoke the same language. The people of Usan refused to be sent to the mainland. When General Isabu of Silla was the monarch of Silla, he assigned Usan to be a part of Silla. Usan began to pay tribute to Silla at this time.
Upon the founding of Goryeo, Usan began paying tribute to Goryeo. Efforts continued in the Goryeo period to maintain Ulleungdo as a territory, and a policy was instituted to relocate residents to Ulleungdo. History of Goryeo contains records of Usan’s invasion by the Jurchens and the relief efforts made for Usan. Records also indicate that a research excursion was made in 1157 to relocate mainland residents to the island. History of Goryeo indicates that Ulleungdo was plundered by foreign invaders.
Upon the founding of Joseon, the government prevented people from residing on Ulleungdo. The reason for this was to prevent further intrusion of Ulleungdo by foreign invaders and to retrieve people who had fled the mainland in order to avoid military service and forced labor. In 1438, around 70 fugitives who had fled to Ulleungdo were captured and brought back to the mainland, and the island was left uninhabited.
The purpose of this policy for returning citizens to the mainland was for their safety, rather than forabandoning the territory. Dokdo and Ulleungdo were included into Gangwon-do’s Uljin County in 1432. This can be verified through the fact that officials were dispatched for the purposes of administration. Records regarding Ulleungdo and Dokdo continued to appear in The Annals of King Sejong Geographical Records(1454), Complete Conspectus of the Territory of the Eastern Country (1481), and the New and Expanded Complete Conspectus of the Territory of the Eastern Country (1531).

2 Dokdo records in The Annals of King Sejong Geographical Records


■Gangwon-do, Uljin County
Usan and Mureung
“The two islands are located in the middle of the East Sea. The two islands are close enough that the other is visible on a clear day. … Upon hearing that many people were fleeing to the island, the king commissioned Kim Inwoo to retrieve the citizens and leave the island uninhabited. Kim exclaimed, ‘The island is fertile and the bamboo trees are like pillars. The rats are as big as cats and the peaches are as big as buckets. All things are like this.’”

3 Dokdo records in the New and Expanded Complete Conspectus of the Territory of the Eastern Country


■Gangwon-do, Uljin County
Usando, Ulleungdo
The islands were also referred to as Mureung and Wooreung. The two islands are located in the middle of the East Sea. Three peaks reach high, with the southern peak being the shortest of the three. On a clear day, the sandbar and the trees on the mountain peak can be vividly seen, and the island can be reached in two days with a fair wind. … Upon hearing that many people were fleeing to the island, King Taejong ordered Kim Inwoo to return the people to the mainland and leave the island uninhabited. … A separate Sambongdo was said to have existed, so Park Jongwon was ordered in 1471 to search for the island. However, he returned having been unable to dock there due to a storm. An accompanying ship docked at Ulleungdo and brought back a bamboo tree and blowfish. Upon returning it was stated that “the island is uninhabited.”

4 “Dokdo Records” in Compilation of Reference Documents on the Eastern Country


Ulleungdo is located directly east of Uljin [County], and is close to the Oki Islands, in Japan. Three peaks reach high, and the southern peak is the shortest of the three. On a clear day, the sandbar and the trees on the mountain peak can be vividly seen. The island can be reached in two days with a fair wind. The island is about 50 kilometers in each direction from its center. Chinese thoroughwax, Angelica tenuissima (kobon), rhododendron, wisteria, junipers, and various reeds are found on the island. Enormous bamboo is plentiful, and the berries and balsam are large enough to be able to make buckets. The cats are as large as dogs, and the rats are as large as cats. A large animal lives in the middle of the sea. They have an appearance similar to that of a cow with red eyes but lack horns. They lie on the coast in droves, and scatter into the water upon seeing humans.
Upon hearing that many people were fleeing to the island, King Taejong ordered Kim Inwoo to retrieve such people on two separate occasions. In 1438, a scholar named Namhwe took hundreds of soldiers to capture and bring back around 70 fugitives who had fled to Ulleungdo. The island was left uninhabited. A separate Sambongdo was said to have existed, thus Park Jongwon was commissioned in 1471 to search for the island, but he returned without being able to dock due to a storm. On the return journey, an accompanying ship docked at Ulleungdo and brought back a bamboo tree and blowfish. Upon returning he stated that “the island is uninhabited.” Records in the Joseon Gazetteer state, “Ulleung and Usan are part of Usan, and foreigners refer to Usan as Songdo.” In 1615, a foreigner dispatched two ships “to survey Uijukdo (Bamboo Island).” It has also been stated that “the island is located between Gyeongsang-do and Gangwon-do.”

 
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