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

6 Chapter Reference

1 Yong-bok An

An Yong-bok is highly regarded as a protector of Dokdo because, according to historical records, he was the first person to officially set foot on Dokdo. He was also the first person to claim Dokdo as Korean territory in Japan. According to the “Takeshima” promotional page on Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, Dokdo has been claimed to be Japanese territory since the mid-seventeenth century. An Yong-bok is, in fact, the largest obstacle to Japan’s territorial claims. This is why the fifth issue from the “10 Issues of Takeshima” claims that “The deposition by Ahn [sic] Yong-bok, on which the ROK side bases its claim, contains many points that conflict with factual evidence.”
According to The Annals of King Sukjong, An Yong-bok was captured while fishing by Oya family fishermen and taken to Japan in 1693. The text also states that he received a written document from the Edo shogunate that “Ulleungdo and Dokdo are Korean territory.” In addition, records show that An Yong-bok personally cast out the Japanese fishermen near Ulleungdo and Dokdo, and went to Japan to argue that the two islands were Korean territory. If these records are true, Japan’s claims to the islands are invalid, and thus Japan must treat An Yong-bok as a liar. According to the “Genroku 9 Korean Coastal Nautical Scrolls” (1696), An Yong-bok presented a map that illustrated Jukdo (Ulleungdo) and Songdo (Dokdo) under the jurisdiction of Gangwon-do. This means that An Yong-bok boldly claimed Ulleungdo and Dokdo to be Korean territory.
Yi Ik’s Digest of the Sacred Learning notes that An Yong-bok was said to speak Japanese well. And as a soldier in the Navy, he regularly visited the Joseon government’s Embassy to Japan when those Korean officials were in Busan, en route to Japan. The Japanese historical source Study of Jukdo includes records of An Yong-bok’s identification tag (hopae) from his capture by Japanese fishermen in 1693. His identification tag contained information about his residence in Seoul. This source also contains the statement that his name was “An Bijang An” and that “An” was his surname. And a document from 1696 stated that another identification tag indicated that An was an “official.” Therefore, An Yong-bok cannot be considered a slave. This is because slaves did not have surnames in the Joseon period.
When An Yong-bok went to Ulleungdo in 1693, the fleet was comprised of vessels from Ulsan, Busan, and Jeolla-do, for a total of three vessels and 42 sailors. A man from Ulsan named Park Eo-dun was captured together with An Yong-bok at this time. News of their capture spread throughout the country, and the government investigated the circumstances through people from Gyeongsang-do. At this time, coastal fishermen in Gyeongsang-do heard that people from Japan were secretly trespassing in Ulleungdo for illegal logging and fishing.
When Japan requested a ban on Joseon fishermen fishing in “Japan’s territory, Takeshima (Jukdo),” Joseon claimed sovereignty and Japan’s Edo shogunate had to acknowledge Ulleungdo as Joseon territory. This incident, the Ulleungdo border dispute, began with the capture of An Yong-bok and Park Eo-dun. Through the diplomatic negotiations between the Joseon government and the Edo shogunate, Ulleungdo was confirmed to be Joseon territory. Had it not been for An Yong-bok, Japan may have claimed sovereignty of not only Dokdo but Ulleungdo, as well.
The Edo shogunate ordered that Japanese not sail across the border to Jukdo (Ulleungdo), and lined the coasts with signposts to stop Japanese fishermen from trespassing. However, because Japan never issued a similar prohibition for Songdo (Dokdo), Japan continued to claim sovereignty over Dokdo. As the Japanese said, Dokdo was merely used as a marina or stopover point on their way to Ulleungdo. In addition, after the prohibition on entering Jukdo, there are no extant records of fishing activities aimed at only Dokdo. Therefore, a similar prohibition for Songdo does not exist, because there was no need. After the prohibition was issued in the first month of 1696, An Yong-bok became the self-appointed “Ulleung Tax Administrator.” He donned an official uniform and proceeded to Japan once again to argue Joseon’s sovereignty over Dokdo and Ulleungdo. Japan reported this fact to the Joseon government, but the Japanese government did not contest the fact that Ulleungdo and Dokdo were Joseon territory.
According to The Annals of King Sukjong, An Yong-bok went to Ulleungdo in 1696 and asked Japanese fishermen, “Why do you trespass on our land?” The Japanese fishermen replied, “We live on Songdo (Dokdo) and came here by chance.” An Yong-bok retorted, “Songdo is Jasando and it too is Joseon territory. How dare you live there?” The next day, he went to Dokdo to banish the Japanese fishermen, and he followed them back to their native Japan. He once again advocated that Ulleungdo and Dokdo were Joseon territory, to which the Japanese people acknowledged. Although Japan continues to deny these incidents, a map presented by An Yong-bok is included in “Genroku 9 Korean Coastal Nautical Scrolls.” These records show Jukdo and Songdo to be part of Gangwon-do. Therefore, they give credibility to An Yong-bok’s claims.
Through the incident in which An Yong-bok and Park Eo-dun were captured, the Joseon government gained knowledge of the livelihood and residence of people in the sea to the southeast. The government became proactive in protecting Ulleungdo and Dokdo because of this incident. In addition, ordinary fishermen became the foundation for protecting the territory.

2 Sim Heung-taek

△ Governor of Ulleungdo Sim Heung-taek’s Report
Sim Heung-taek served as the governor of Uldo for approximately three years beginning in 1903. To ensure a successful campaign in the Russo-Japanese War, the Japanese government issued the Shimane Prefecture Notice No. 40, to annex Dokdo, on February 22, 1905. On March 26, 1906, an investigation committee from Shimane Prefecture entered Ulleungdo and informed Sim, who was still the governor, that Takeshima (Dokdo) had been annexed by Japan. The Japanese stated that they had just come from inspecting the island. Startled, Sim notified the Gangwon-do official Lee Myeong-nae that the Japanese committee had claimed that “Dokdo is now Japanese territory and we are here for an inspection.” The name “Dokdo” first appeared in historical documents in this report by Sim. The Great Han Empire government first gained knowledge of Dokdo’s illegal annexation through Sim’s report. This annexation of Takeshima occurred without prior notice or consultation with the Korean government and is therefore illegal.

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