"Dokdo is Our Land" Song

This will be a short post that's more like a sidenote. I would like to introduce you to a very famous Korean song about Dokdo, where the territorial dispute between Korea and Japan is still going on. (We talked about Dokdo in past three posts, so if you're new to the topic, I encourage that you read Dokdo vs. Takeshima posts before reading this one.)
This informational and nationalistic song is called "Dokdo is our land;" it has 5 verses and military hymn-sounding melody, and it was composed by Park Inho(aka Park Moon Young) in 1982, in order to increase the awareness on the issue amongst younger generation. This song has been published in Korean elementary school's textbooks beginning from 1996. (only Korean Ministry of Education publishes and provides textbooks to elementary, middle and high schools; therefore every student in the nation is using it.)
Now, here are the lyrics and their translation:
 Click on this picture to listen/watch the video of this song!

울릉도 동남쪽 뱃길따라 이백리
80km away on the East-South from Ullengdo

외로운 섬하나 새들의 고향
There's a lonley isle for sea birds

그누가 아무리 자기네 땅이라고 우겨도
Whoever says it belongs to them,

독도는 우리땅
Dokdo is our land!

경상북도 울릉군 남면도동 일번지
Nammyeongdong 1, Ullenggeun, Kyungsangbukdo* (i)

동경 백삼십이 북위 삼십칠
East longtitude 132, North 37 degrees

평균기온 십이도 강수량은 천삼백
North 37 degrees, average temperature 12 degrees

독도는 우리땅
Dokdo is our land!
오징어 꼴뚜기 대구 명태 거북이
Cuttlefish, squid, cod, haddock, turtle

연어알 물새알 해녀대합실
salmon eggs, sea bird eggs, waiting room for women divers*(ii)

십칠만 평방미터 우물하나 분화구
170 thousand square meter, a spring a crater,

독도는 우리땅
Dokdo is our land!

지증왕 십삼년 섬나라 우산국
In the 13th year of King Jijeung*(iii),
Woosankuk, Island Country*(iv)

세종실록 지리지 오십페이지 셋째줄
On the 3rd line of page 50 in the geography book of Sejong*(v)

하와이는 미국땅 대마도는 일본땅
Hawaii is American land, Daemado is Japanese land

독도는 우리땅
but Dokdo is our land!

러일전쟁 직후에 임자없는 섬이라고
"It's an island with no owner post Russo-Japanese War,"

억지로 우기면 정말 곤란해
whoever said it, it's wrong to claim so.

신라장군 이사부 지하에서 웃는다
Shilla general Leesabu*(vi) is laughing at you in his grave

독도는 우리땅 독도는 우리땅
Dokdo is our land! (x2)

Based on English translation of Kwon Jong Hoon

* (i) Dokdo's current official address
* (ii) When Dokdo was first found by Koreans
* (iii) What Dokdo used to be called
* (iv) The things that dokdo is known for
* (v) A record that says "the Korean residents of Dokdo were asked to move to Uleungdo in 1439, the 21th year of king Sejong's reign, they refused it," which proves that Dokdo has belonged to Korea for over 500 years
* (vi) A general who conquered Ulleungdo(the closest island from Dokdo) and reverted it to Shilla dynasty
Can you feel how much Korean people care about this issue from the song? Because this song is included in school curriculum, most children can memorize the song; therefore they naturally know the detailed information about Dokdo like average temperature, local wildlife and historical references. The territory dispute over Dokdo island is beyond a simple conflict over a land; It symbolizes the rivelry between Korea and Japan, and the prides of both people.

Dokdo or Takeshima? The current territorial conflict! Part3(final)

Even though she has encountered multiple military setbacks , Japan still officially declares, ever since 1949, that Dokdo is a part of Japan. South Korea actively protests against this territorial claim every time.

The Ambiguity of Actions!

The dispute over Dokdo imposed a great threat on the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and the South Korea from the end of the Pacific War in 1945, to June 1965, when the Basic Relations Treaty was signed. Just like the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1952, issue about sovereignty over Dokdo was intentionally left out of the final text of the treaty due to the request of the Korean government who sought for peaceful solution. However, Korean government did not completely neglect the issue; conflict over Dokdo was discussed between Korean Foreign Minister Lee Dong-won and Japanese Foreign Minister Etsusaburo Shiina, without a clear solution as a result. This kind of ambiguous action was not popular amongst the Korean public, who hoped for more definite territorial boundary between Korea and Japan. Korean public demanded the war reparations from Japan, and ownership of Dokdo on Korea's side of the peace line. The treaty of 1965 was a complete failure in terms of determining the ownership over Dokdo.

What does America say?

America has a close diplomatic relationship with both South Korea and Japan. So it would be interesting to know what's her position in this issue. The American position over the ownership of Dokdo is quite neutral; American government do not recognize sovereignity of both Korea and Japan over the islets. The America has taken this stance ever since she has signed the defense pacts with both South Korea and Japan. For the case of Japan, America takes into account the fact that the Japanese do not have a control over Dokdo, thus placing Dokdo outside the territory governed by the Japan-U.S. Mutual Security Treaty. For the case of Korea, it is unlikely that the U.S. would recognize Korea´s claim to the island, just looking at the history of this dispute. In addition, it seems like the Mutual Defense Treaty between the U.S. and the South Korea is inapplicable since according to the treaty, America is only responsible for defense of the territory recognized by the U.S. as belonging to South Korea.

So what's going on today?

The most serious conflict in last 20 years came in1996 when Japanese Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda publicly reaffirmed Japan's territorial claim to Dokdo immediately after South Korean government announced the plan to build a wharf on them. Even though this was a statement to gain more popularity amongst Japanese voters by sounding 'tough', this event has greatly upset South Koreans. In response to the careless action on Japanese part, South Korean defense ministry changed its plan from trying avoid a political conflict with neighboring nation by canceling that year's spring military maneuvers near Dokdo to not canceling the event. Afterwards, Japanese "self-defense" forces expressed further aggression by conducting exercises in the same ocean that were meant to practice the re-occupation of Dokdo. Japan then later claimed that the military drill was in fear of overly negative reaction from Korea.

The issue over Japanese Textbooks

The branch of this controversy is on Japanese denial to acknowledge the full history of the sovereignty dispute over Dokdo in history textbooks published for Japanese high schools. In April 2002, the Japanese Ministry of Culture and Science approved texts from the book publishing companies, Meiseisha and Jitkyosha, the content of which contains the questions on Korean claim to Dokdo with huge bias and no reasonable explaination on Korean argument. Furthermore, Japanese Ministry of Education and Culture even considers to neglect the history of Korean claims to Dokdo and old Japanese documents (written by Japanese people) that refers to the justice of such claims. This issue over Japanese textbooks reflect that Japan does not want the closure of Dokdo island dispute, and it also shows how immature their attitude is.

However, recently in 2008, the Japanese government has decided not to include any territorial description of Dokdo, the easternmost South Korean islets, in a high school teachers' guidebook scheduled for revision early next year. [...] The alleged decision apparently reflects Tokyo's intention not to strain the South Korean-Japanese relationship amid growing signs of its normalization. (Source: Yoo Cheong-mo, Yonhap News)

Why do Koreans and Japanese care about Dokdo so much?

The Dokdo issue is not just about the ownership of the two islets or the blind nationalism, because Dokdo has high economic value for its energy resource and fishing grounds. Both Korea and Japan view the ownership of Dokdo as a great path for their interests in the surrounding ocean. Scientists argue that in about 16,600 square nautical miles of sea and seabed of the surrounding ocean, there are areas that may hold some 600 million tons of gas hydrate (natural gas condensed into semisolid form), which is believed to be deposited along the broad seabed extending from Dokdo to Guryongpo, North Kyongsang Province. Gas hydrate holds a high economic value because it is a next-generation energy source that could be used in liquid natural gas if adequate technology is made available. In addition, Dokdo is surrounded by fertile fishing grounds, and Korea and Japan, the nations with one of the world's largest fishing industry, frequently attempt to bolster their claims to it in a fear of dwindling sea resources. Japanese fishing officials announced that the depletion of fish stocks in Pacific means that Japan must rely more on waters closer to homeland. The northwestern Pacific in general has more underused fish stocks than other areas, however only few of such marine areas in East Asia remain unclaimed (Many claims even overlap)

The Everlasting Peaceful Coexistance
or Silence before Storm?

According to the Law of the Sea Convention, every nation with a seacoast is allowed to exercise jurisdiction over resources and certain activities in waters extending as much as 200 nautical miles from a coastal baseline-an Exclusive Economic Zone (also known as EEZ) The problems here lie in the details, and this is nowhere better illustrated than in the Law of the Sea Convention, in which the extent and degree of jurisdiction a nation exercises is determined by a host of arcane factors, including the drawing of baselines, distance from the coast, and the meaning of "continental shelf," "equidistant lines," and the like. According to the convention, a nation can claim sovereign rights over resources and all related activities, as well as jurisdiction over artificial structures, scientific research, and protection and preservation of the marine environment, within its 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). But because tiny islets that are only flyspecks on a map may be used as a basis to claim an Exclusive Economic Zone, many maritime disputes focus on the ownership of tiny islands, reefs, and other "features" such as Dokdo, the Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea, and the Spratly/Xisha Islands in the South China Sea. Unfortunately, the convention offers little specific guidance for the settlement of boundary disputes. Thus nations may still feel a need to engage in provocative military posturing, and the possibility of military conflict remains. The 1996 dispute over Dokdo only further stressed the already fragile relations between South Korea and Japan. Nonetheless, ways have been found to deal with boundary uncertainty. Under a joint-development approach, these countries agree on the extent of the area in dispute, set aside the actual boundary question, and reach agreement on joint exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons. This strategy is supported by the Law of the Sea Convention, which stipulates that, pending agreement on the delineation of the continental shelf or the boundaries of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), states should try to enter into provisional arrangements. Perhaps the strongest reason for a state to opt for a joint undertaking is to protect its interests in potential oil or gas deposits, combined with a desire to maintain good relations with the other state. Joint development is an idea that may look increasingly attractive as the need for oil intensifies. Japan and South Korea have taken such an approach, and have established 230-mile EEZs under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. After years of negotiation, the two countries signed the treaty in July 1996, setting quotas and regulations in each other's zones.

Dokdo or Takeshima? The current territorial conflict! Part2

Alright! Let's start some catch-up on the topic from the last blog that we left incomplete. We have talked about the earliest Japanese attempt in acquistion of Dokdo Island, how their attitudes have changed, and what motivated the change. Now we will be talking about how this small territorial conflict from early 1900s happened to continue until today without a clear resolution but a constant dispute.

As we are aware now, the Russo-Japanese War initiated the public awareness of Dokdo, because many of the naval battles between the Russian and Japanese fleets took place in the area of Ullungdo and Dokdo. Now that the importance of island was evident, Japanese Government has encouraged Japanese civilians to live in this area Nakai Yozaburo, Japanese imperialist, approached the Japanese Government to secure exclusive rights to Dokdo for the complete acquisition of the islands. With this, I think it's safe to conclude that Japanese incorporation of Dokdo into SHimane Prefecture was a result of Japan's imperialist aggression in the early 1990s.

Now let me remind you that Korea has gained her independence from Japan in August 15 of 1945. However, the conflict on Dokdo has never ceased. Even today, the Foreign Ministry of Japan clings to his belief that the territories it acquired in the period of 1894-1910 were "internationally recognized", and therefore were acquired validly. It is bizzard that Japan would still continue to hold onto a claim of territorial sovereignty that was enacted at a time when Japan was engaged in imperial expansion, after more than 5 decades since Korea has been granted independence. Why does Japanese continue with this nonsense? Why does it enrage Korean people? Why is it still a source of conflict? Now let me elaborate my theories.

Why is Japanese Claim for Dokdo Unjustified?

The Cairo Conference of 1943 announced that "Japan will be expelled from all territories which she has taken by violence and greed since the time of the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95" Japan´s annexation of Dokdo in 1905 and all other Korean territories by 1910 definitely fall into the definition of territories taken by greed, as clarified by the Cairo Declaration. Do you see the irony here? If Japan believes that its methods in acquiring Dokdo in 1905 were legitimate, as she claims now, then Japan must also believe that it can still, by the same logic, claim sovereignty over the rest of the Korean Peninsula, alas! (Reference: http://www.kncolorado.com/bbs/board.php?bo_table=korea_town_news&wr_id=49)

Why are Koreans enraged by this conflict?

It's fairly understandable that Koreans are enraged by the territorial conflict, which has been dragged on for 50 years when it should have ended with Korean independence. To them, Dokdo conflict is a trigger that brings sad memories back from Japanese colonial period; something that they hate Japan for.

What actions have Korea and Japan taken?

Early Actions
In the 1950's, South Korean President, Yi Seung-man, took active measures to stake its claim; he sent a research vessel to Dokdo. Even though the result was just the aforementioned bombing incident, it helped capturing the public's attention on the dispute in Korea and Japan for the first time. The tension of the conflict over Dokdo increased significantly in 1953-1954, as President. Yi has established the "Peace Line," in which South Korea placed a territorial boundary line that extended out into the East Sea/Sea of Japan to include Dokdo. Over these years, Japanese patrol vessels frequently approached within close distance of the island and tried to, and often actually landed on the island, provoking reactions from the Korean volunteer coast guards.

There was one significant incident that followed soon after. On June 27, 1953 Tomizo Sawa led the crews of two Japanese coast guard vessels to drive six of the Korean coast guards from their base on the East Islet to the West Islet. Then they landed on the island, and erected a Japanese territorial marker on the shore. At the time, this action seemed to have only a trivial effect in Korea because the early government was too busy trying to end the Korean War. However, it was not forgotten. President Yi sent a letter to North Kyongsang Province police chief Kim Jong-won, promising him the support of weaponry such as bombs to scare off the Japanese. Then the chief has over-interpreted the order and fired Japanese ships arriving at Dokdo on July 12, 1953, sinking one boat and causing 16 casualties and deaths. Japanese response to South Korea's military aggression is highly noteworthy; Japanese Foreign Ministry angrily denounced the Korean "illegal actions" in a letter to Seoul on November 30th, demanding an official apology from the South Korea and the removal of the Korea's voluntary coast guard. But, being strong as they always have been, the Koreans never gave in.

Then, Japanese right-wing groups hoped to send the armed reaction force in an effort to "free Takeshima" from the Koreans. Despite of the failure of such wish, this only enlarged the hatred of both sides andundoubtedly slowed down rapprochement. In 1954, Koreans built a concrete lighthouse and building, and a helicopter landing pad on the East Islet. Ever since, the islands have been under the protection of Korean maritime guards.

How did you enjoy the post today? Did you feel the intensity and tension? As the post is getting longer than I expected, I'll divide it and do a follow-up post(which is hopefully, final) on the actions taken from 1960s to today. If there's any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to post them!