• Dokdo in the East Sea
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1. Dokdo Development and Imperial Ordinance No. 41 of the Korean Empire

Objectives
Explain Japan’s interest in claiming Ulleungdo and Dokdo in the modern period.
Examine Imperial Ordinance No. 41 of the Korean Empire and its significance for sovereignty over Dokdo.
 
Critical Thinking
Although Japan had tried to claim sovereignty over Ulleungdo and Dokdo in the modern period, the Daijōkan (Great Council of State) stated, “Ulleungdo and Dokdo have no relation with Japan, and keep that in mind.” What is the significance of the Daijōkan Order?
 

Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Report in 1870

In 1868, daimyo lords in Japan overthrew the Edo shogunate, resulting in the Meiji Restoration. This event restored absolute imperial rule to a newly unified Japan, bringing it into the modern period. The new government wished to build relations with Joseon, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a survey committee to Joseon in December 1869. The committee was directed to investigate a total of 14 different items.
The survey objectives and the report are contained in “Confidential Inquiry into the Particulars of Korea’s Relations with Japan” (1870). An excerpt from the report stated, “Takeshima (Ulleungdo) and Matsushima (Dokdo) are part of Joseon territory.” This report confirms that the Japanese government was well aware of Joseon sovereignty over Matsushima (Dokdo).
The following information regarding Takeshima and Matsushima is found in “Confidential Inquiry into the Particulars of Korea’s Relations with Japan.”
Matsushima (Dokdo) is an island located next to Takeshima (Ulleungdo). Regarding Matsushima, no records seem to be extant. After the Genroku period (at the time of the An Yong-bok Incident), Joseon people were dispatched and have resided there, but currently the island is uninhabited as it had been before. Bamboo, large bamboo reeds, and ginseng grow naturally in the area. I have also heard that fish are plentiful.
Confidential Inquiry into the Particulars of Korea’s Relations with Japan
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Daijōkan Order Acknowledges Joseon’s Sovereignty over Dokdo

The “Map of Kijukdo”· Joseon is about 50 ri in the northwestern direction from Isotakeshima (Ulleungdo)
· Isotakeshima (Ulleungdo) is about 40 ri in the northwestern direction from Matsushima (Dokdo)
· Matsushima (Dokdo) is about 80 ri in the northwestern direction from Oki Dogo Fukuura
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Daijōkan Order
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Japan was actively modernizing when it instituted the Abolition of the Domain System. While the Ministry of Home Affairs was compiling maps from all regions of Japan in 1876, a request was made to the Shimane Prefecture for maps and geographical records about Takeshima (Ulleungdo). Shimane Prefecture sent the “Map of Kijukdo” and inquired about listing Ildo as a territory in addition to Takeshima. The “Map of Kijukdo” lists the distance from Matsushima (Dokdo) to Isotakeshima as 40 ri, which indicates that the two islands in question are Ulleungdo and Dokdo.
Based on this information, the Ministry of Home Affairs decided that the two islands were not a part of Japanese territory. However, as territorial decisions were critical, it requested that the Daijōkanreview the findings and make the final decision. After reviewing the documents and maps provided by the Shimane Prefecture, the Daijōkan Order was issued on March 29, 1877. It stated, “Ulleungdo and Dokdo have no relation with Japan, and keep this in mind.”
This declaration was written confirmation that the Japanese government acknowledged Joseon sovereignty over Dokdo and Ulleungdo.
Although some scholars in Japan have claimed that “Ildo,” which is mentioned in the Daijōkan Order, is not Dokdo, the “Map of Kijukdo” labeled an island next to Isotakeshima as Matsushima. Therefore, Ildo is Matsushima, which is in fact Dokdo.
Activity 1
Identify the name of the order from the Japanese government which stated that Ulleungdo and Dokdo have no relation to Japan and consider its significance.
 
Activity 2
Identify “Ildo” as described in the Daijōkan Order.
 

Development of Ulleungdo by the Joseon Government

From the late seventeenth century to the late nineteenth century, the Joseon government sent officials to inspect Ulleungdo and its neighboring islands. Although the “search official” required that all people on the island return to the mainland, travel to the island was frequent, and even Japanese fishermen harvested abalone and performed logging operations. In the early 1880s, a Japanese person installed a signpost on Ulleungdo which read “Matsushima.” When the Joseon government discovered this, a survey of the island was performed to gauge development possibilities.
“Ulleungdo Inspection Journal”Source : Dongguk University, Lee Hye-eun
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Ⓐ “Ulleungdo Exterior Map,” Ⓑ “Ulleungdo Interior Map”
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In April 1882, King Gojong dispatched an inspector Lee Gyu-won (李奎遠) to survey Ulleungdo and its neighboring islands. At the time of the inspection, 141 Joseon people and 78 Japanese people were residing on the island. Over 100 inspectors investigated the area, and Lee Gyu-won filed the following reports to King Gojong: “Ulleungdo Inspection Journal,” “Ulleungdo Exterior Map,” and “Ulleungdo Interior Map.”
In response to Lee Gyu-won’s reports, King Gojong commanded the development of Ulleungdo, and settlers officially started to inhabit the island in 1883. The government instituted a preferential policy to encourage migration. It gave tax exemptions to Ulleungdo’s settlers and permitted shipbuilding on the island. Kim Ok-gyun was designated as the Southeastern Islands Development Official (東南諸島開拓使)to encourage the development of Ulleungdo and its neighboring islands. Over two trips, a total of 54 people in 16 families moved to Ulleungdo. Among the supplies taken by these settlers were food, two cows, and weapons. These actions signified the Joseon government’s commitment to full administration over the islands.

The Korean Empire’s Ulleungdo and Dokdo

As the number of Ulleungdo residents and Japanese immigrants increased, stronger administration was required to manage the residents. The government assigned an (island) mayor to oversee Ulleungdo, but that was not enough. After Japan defeated Qing China in war in 1895, an influx of Japanese immigrants to the island proved cumbersome. The Korean Empire government, with assistance from the Japanese government, dispatched a joint inspection committee to investigate the situation in Ulleungdo from May 31, 1900, to June 5, 1900. Inspector Woo Yong-jung filed a detailed report and proposed the deportation of Japanese immigrants, the purchase of a ship, and a reform of the the island’s administration.
Ⓐ Imperial Ordinance No. 41 of the Korean Empire, Ⓑ The official Gazette carrying Ordinance No. 41Ⓐ Article 2 – The location of the county is established in Taeha-dong and its jurisdiction will include
Ulleungjeondo, Jukdo, and Seokdo.
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In response, the Joseon government issued the “Imperial Ordinance No. 41 of the Korean Empire” (October 25, 1900) to raise the position of mayor to governor and change the island’s name from Ulleungdo to Uldo. In addition, the area was brought into the Uldo military jurisdiction and Ulleungjeondo, Jukdo, and Seokdo provisions were established. “Jukdo” refers to a small satellite island, and “Seokdo” refers to Dokdo. At the behest of King Gojong, Ordinance No. 41 was published in the official Gazette (No. 1716) on October 27, 1900, and Ulleungdo and Dokdo’s sovereignty was claimed in accordance with modern law.

Ordinance No. 41, Seokdo

“Seokdo” in Ordinance No. 41 refers to Dokdo. “Ulleungjundo” in the Ordinance refers to Ulleungdo and the nearby Gwaneumdo. “Jukdo” is a small satellite island close to Ulleungdo. “Seokdo” refers to Dokdo. Some residents of Ulleungdo referred to Dokdo as “Dokseom.” “Dok” is a dialect variation on “Dol” (Rock). “Dokseom” or “Dolseom” literally means “Rock Island.” When expressing the Korean words “dol” and “dok” in written Chinese, they become “seok” (石) and “dok” (獨). Therefore, Dolseom → Dokseom → Seokdo → Dokdo are all variations of the same name.
Activity 3
Examine why “Seokdo” refers to “Dokdo” in Ordinance No. 41.
 

Dokdo‘s Name Changes

As with all names, when words are written in Chinese characters, island names can change due to people’s confusion, errors, or new information.

Usando (于山島)This name first appeared in The Annals of King Taejong (1417). Jasando (子山島), Cheonsando (千山島), Bangsando (方山島), and Gansando (干山島) have appeared, as well. These variations are due to the character for “u” (于) looking similar to the first characters in the place names above. This is essentially a typographical error.
SambongdoAn erroneous report had been filed during the reignofKing Seongjong in the early Joseon period. Upon investigation, this island name referred to either Ulleungdo or Dokdo. That the name was given as three peaks can be seen on Ulleungdo: “sam” (Three) “bong” (Peaks) “do” (Island)
GajidoDuring the reign of King Jeongjo in the late Joseon period, Gajieo, that is, sea lions, were discovered on Dokdo, hence the name Gajido.
Seokdo (Dolseom, Dokseom)This name first appeared in Imperial Ordinance No. 41 of the Korean Empire, issued in 1900. The Chinese name “Seokdo” (rock island) is interpreted as “Dolseom” in Korean. “Dol” and “dok” both mean “rock,” and the island was sometimes called “Dokseom” In the process of writing this Korean name in Chinese characters, the name “Dokdo” appeared, which is a combination of Chinese characters and characters used in Korean contexts.
Dokdo”Dokdo” first appeared in Japanese records in 1904. In Korean records, it first appeared in Sim Heung-taek’s inspection report in 1904. Today, this island name is spelled in the English alphabet as “Dokdo.”

 
Meiji Restoration
This process of transformation brought about a modern Japanese government in the late nineteenth century after the Edo shogunate was toppled.
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Abolition of the Domain System
Started in 1871, this act of the new Meiji government sought to replace the traditional feudal domain (han) system and introduce a centralized government authority.
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Isotakeshima
Similar to Takeshima, this is another name for Ulleungdo. Jukdo is labeled as Kijukdo in the “Map of Kijukdo.”
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Daijōkan
The highest administrative office in the Meiji government.
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Lee Gyu-won (李奎遠)
A military official active at the end of the Joseon period. As an inspector of Ulleungdo, he reported his findings to the government.
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Southeastern Islands Development Official (東南諸島開拓使)
A government position created specifically to promote the development of Ulleungdo and its surrounding areas.
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(island) mayor
After the initial migration in 1882, an “island leader” was selected from among the residents. After later organizational adjustments, a mayor was appointed in 1895.
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