Enrichment: Dokdo’s Unsung Heroes
In 1882, Inspector Lee Gyu-won investigated and reported on the economic viability of Ulleungdo. Upon discovering Japanese trespassing on Ulleungdo in order to install a signpost and to perform logging activities, Lee reported his findings to the government.
In response to Lee’s reports, the government sent a letter to Japan in protest and immediately began the process to promote the island to county status. In 1883, 54 people from all of the Korean provinces were relocated to Ulleungdo as part of the colonization efforts.
The purpose of the retrieval policy from the Joseon period was to return people to the mainland and keep them safe from foreign invaders.
Japanese scholars have referred to this as a “national defense policy.”
In October 1890, Imperial Ordinance No. 41 of the Great Han Empire established Uldo County and ordered that a governor would oversee both Ulleungdo and Dokdo. The retrieval policy that had existed for over 400 years was waived and a proper administration of Ulleungdo was established.
Sim Heung-taek was the second governor of Ulleungdo, and he reported the Japanese colonization to the government after Japanese inspectors had claimed Dokdo as Japanese territory upon their visit. The name “Dokdo” started to be used officially during this time. The government strongly denied/objected to Japan’s claims and responded by ordering a new inspection of Dokdo’s Japanese colonization. However, without a proper embassy in Japan, the situation was not easy to resolve.
1. The bond between Ulleungdo, Dokdo, and the mainland was established in 512 due to General Isabu’s actions.
2. An Yong-bok went to Japan on two separate occasions to advocate Dokdo’s Korean sovereignty to the Japanese government, which was in turn accepted by Japan.
3. Lee Gyu-won filed a detailed report about Ulleungdo, and in response, the government abandoned the retrieval policy that had existed for over 400 years and established governance on Ulleungdo.
4. Sim Heung-taek was the second governor of Ulleungdo, and he reported the Japanese colonization to the government. He was also the first person to officially use the name “Dokdo.”
5. In the aftermath of the Korean War, the Dokdo Volunteer Guard maintained effective control over Dokdo.