Japanese Illegal Agression Recorded in Chosun Documents


In the 1880s Japanese aggression in the region affected both Ulleungdo and Dokdo. However, each island was dealt with differently because they each had different intrinsic values. Ulleungdo´s assets were in the form of natural resources while Dokdo´s value was strategic location for military control.

The situation in the Ulleungdo-Dokdo area began to spiral out of control. Japanese squatters who were illegally fishing and logging began to overwhelm the region. The following is a conversation where an official from the 통리기무아문 (defence department) is speaking to the king. He is referencing a report made by Kangwon Province Inspector Im Han-su.
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Official Chosun Document

Official Chosun document


Translation: "Patrolling the island (Ulleungdo) I noticed a man cutting down some trees and piling them up by the shore. I could also see other men with short black haircuts in black sitting near the man. I approached them and asked them in writing what they are doing, and they answered that the Japanese man was working to ship the lumber to Wonsan and Busan..."

"...Japanese ships are observed randomly coming and going these days showing a great deal of interest in Ulleungdo Island, which consequently leads to trouble. It is necessary that 통리기무아문 report this to the King. These mountains are banned from logging for a reason and there should be proper measures and procedures in place. However, these Japanese are logging our forests secretly with neither our notification or consent. This must be stopped in a strict manner. A document is going to be made and sent to the Foreign Affairs Office in Japan through the Japanese authorities in Busan. It would be foolish to neglect the island when it is located in the middle of the open sea..."
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Official Chosun Document

Translation continued: "The importance of the island as a strategic position and the status of it as a defense system should be checked before any measures are taken. May I suggest that Lee Kyuwon be sent as an inspector as soon as possible and have him make a thorough investigation to help deal with this matter."

To this request King Gojong gave his consent.

This document describes how 19th century Chosun was struggling with Japanese aggression in the region and had decided to take action. However, these attempts were in vain and were deliberately thwarted by the Japanese government´s policies.