The Korean Reaction to the Japanese ´Incorporation´ of Dokdo

Learn more about this period of time here

Photo of 3/28/1906 meeting between Ulleungdo County Chief Shim Heung-taek and the Japanese Delegation

This photo was taken on that fateful day of March 28th 1906 on Ulleungdo Island.  The Governor of Uldo (Ullengdo) Shin Heung Taek poses with Japanese officials after hearing Dokdo Island was annexed by the Japanese (over a year after the fact.) The Korean flag is seen on the right.  Mr Shin had some children deliberately hold another Korean flag for the picture (an act of defiance?).  The governor can be seen in the doorway.  (Chosun Ilbo Photo)

On March 28, 1906 Japanese officials lead by Zinzai Yutaro arrived in Ulleungdo after making an inspection tour of Takeshima/Dokdo.   Upon visiting the Ulleungdo County chief, Shim Heung Taek, they notified him of the Japanese incorporation of Dokdo, and as a gift, the Korean governor was given a seal-lion. The Japanese investigated the number of households, population and geographical features of the area at will;  illustrating the one-sided power relations at that time.

Surprised at the news, Shim immediately reported to the central government the next day as follows. See document below.

Shim´s message to the government

This document shows that Koreans disputed Dokdo's incorporation into Shimane Prefecture from the moment they were notified.

The above letter by Ulleungdo County Chief Shim Heung-taek, translated into English, says:

" Tokdo belonging to this county located in the sea about 100 ri from this county.   A Japanese steamship moored at Todongpo in Udo on the 4th day of the month about 8:00 a.m. and a group of Japanese officials came to my office and said ´We came to inspect Dokdo since it is now Japanese territory.´   The group included official Zinzai of Oki Island in Shimane Prefecture, Director Yoshida Meigo of the Tax Supervision Bureau, police sub-station chief.   Inspector Kageyama Iwahachiro, one policeman, one local assemblyman, a doctor and a technician and a dozen followers.   They have come for the purpose of finding out firstly, the number of households, population and land production, and secondly, the number or personnel and expenditure.   The record being made, we submit this report for your reference.
Lunar March 5th 10th year of Kwangmu (1906)

Highlighted in the blue boxes (above), is this:

ݤ ֵ3ȣ. ̰ Լ ϳ, .

ɹ 3ȣ ö о, ϴ ٰŰ , Ϻ ٽ ϶.

In English, it says:
"Order No.3 by the Daehan Empire Governor:
I have read this report. Their word that Dokdo has become Japanese territory is a totally unfounded allegation; recheck the island and action of Japanese people.

Some Japanese contend that Shim's apparently calm attitude about this whole affair illustrates a form of consent.   However, if County Chief Shim did not openly raise any objection to the Japanese territorial claim it was because of the presence and pressure from the Japanese.

Aside from the fact this document shows that Koreans promptly objected to the Shimane Prefecture inclusion, there is something else very important written. Here we can see the name "Dokdo" being used by Shim Heung Taek. Therefore, this document implies that the Koreans had both already considered the island Korean territory and had already used the name Dokdo to refer to the islets before the Japanese claimed Dokdo as ´Takeshima´. These facts verify that Sokdo in Ordinance 41 written in the 1900 was indeed the island we now know as Dokdo.

Content for this page provided courtesy of Steve Barber.