Enrichment: President Syngman Rhee’s establishment of the Peace Line
In 1952, President Syngman Rhee declared “the sovereignty of the adjacent coast” and devised the Peace Line some 50 to 100 miles off the coast in response to the “request for the protection and welfare of the country.”
Japanese called it the “Syngman Rhee Line” and strongly demanded its abolition. President Syngman Rhee stated that the purpose of the line was for peaceful co-existence.
Japanese fishermen being interrogated by Korean authorities after being detained for allegedly having trespassed across the boundary.
When the Japanese government instructed fishermen to ignore the “Syngman Rhee Line,” the Korean government responded by mobilizing warships and seizing Japanese vessels that violated the boundary. A Japanese fisherman was killed occurred during this period. By 1961, almost 4,000 Japanese fishermen had been captured and more than 300 vessels seized.
The Peace Line reflected the urgent need for protection of the Korean fishing industry. At the time, the domestic gross tonnage of fishing vessels was a mere 100,000 tons, and most vessels were non-motorized. If Japanese fishermen had been allowed to fish freely in the East Sea, the negative impact on the Korean fishing industry would have been severe.
1. In 1900, The Imperial Ordinance No. 41 of the Korean Empire declared Seokdo (Dokdo) to be Korean territory.
2. In 1905, the Japanese government established jurisdiction over Dokdo after claiming that the island had no preeminence. However, this was an unfounded claim as Dokdo had long been considered Korean territory.
3. The SCAPIN No. 677 was issued in 1946, which expressly excludes Ulleungdo, Dokdo, and Jejudo from Japanese territory.
4. President Syngman Rhee declared ‘the sovereignty of the adjacent coast’ in 1952. This is the Peace Line.