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Why is Dokdo Korean Territory?

Aung Kyaw Oo

Ph.D. Candidate

International Information Technology Policy Scholarship Program (ITPP)

Technology Management, Economics and Policy Program (TEMEP)

Seoul National University

In this new world globalized order, disputes and conflicts among the countries for their territorial
possession seem to be getting serious than they were in the past. There are four factors that define the
existence of a nation, viz. territory, people, government and sovereignty. Among them, the most basic and
important factor is none other than “Territory” of a nation. Without the specific territory of a country is
formally and exactly defined, it might occur territorial disputes between and among the neighboring
countries. Recent and immediate examples can be witnessed from the claims of the possession for Spratly
Islands each from China, Taiwan, Philippines and Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei; for Europa island
between France and Madagaska; Chagos Archipelago among United Kingdom, Mauritius and Seychelles;
Glorioso Islands among France, Madagaska, the Seychelles and the Comoros; Isla de Alboran, Isla Perijil
and Isla Chafarinas between Spain and Morocco; Lete Island between Benin and Niger (the International
Court of Justice allowed the Island to be the possession of Niger in 2005); Santa Barbara islands between
the United States and Mexico; Falkland islands between the United Kingdom and Argentina; Isla Suarez
between Brazil and Bolivia; Minicoy island between India and the Maldives; Natuna islands among
China, Indonesia and Taiwan; Senkaku islands among Japan, China nd Taiwan; and Snake island between
Ukraine and Romania[1].

Liancourt Rocks, another term for the Dokdo Island, is the disputed island between Korea and

Japan . It will be hereby rationalized in four ways to assert and officially claim that Dokdo Island is the
national territory of the Republic of Korea.

First and foremost, physically or geographically, Dokdo Island is located at about 131°52´ East
longitude and about 37°14´ North latitude [2]. It is 217 kilometer (km) from mainland Korea and 250
kilometer from mainland of Japan. The nearest Korean island, Ulleung-do, is 87 km away from Dokdo
and the nearest Japanese island, Oki Islands, is 157 km away from Dokdo. So, in a sense, the nearer a
place is to a country, the more reasonable the more probable the place is to be the asset of that country.
And this rationality is a positive vote for Korea.

In addition to that, logically, it can be simply said that the possession of a place can be decided by
who is and has been taking care of it for the last half a century. They are the Koreans who has been taking
care of it and put much historical value on it. So, needless to say, the Dokdo is Korean’s and not for
anyone else.

Moreover, legally, the article (3) of the SCAPIN No. 677 (the Supreme Commander of the Allied
Powers' 677th instruction (SCAPIN No. 677) in 1946) has already defined the territory of Japan and it
was crystal clear that Dokdo Island is of Korea [5] [6]. SCAPIN 677 was twice revised before April 28,
1952 when the Japanese Peace treaties were operative. No other amendments were made to various
memoranda, directives and orders which had been existed before that time. Japanese would have argued
on the possession of Dokdo if they had possessed historical evidences or any related documents for that.
In a sense, it can be said that Japan had accepted the Dokdo to be in the primary territory of Korea at that
time. Whatever has been happened in the past, the legality of SCAPIN No. 677 is still in active so long as
no other amendment is made to it or no new directive is out to supersede on it. In addition, in accordance
with the article (2-a) of the Chapter (2) of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, Japan has no more right to
claim anything related to Korea.

The question worthy to be raised here is that “Should the territorial dispute for the Dokdo island
be settled before the International Court of Justice (ICJ)?” Personally, it shouldn’t be for the Korean.
Every problem cannot be tackled from outsiders’ knowledge and academic perspectives. Especially it is
true for the Dokdo which is a historical site and national pride for the Korean handed down by forefathers
and older generations. For its’ counterpart, “what if the ICJ made a final decision in favor of Korea?”No,
they would have nothing to lose. At least, they would gain the political advantage by bringing the dispute
before the ICJ. Perhaps that will be one of the reasons why the Japanese don’t want to bring the territorial
dispute on Senkaku islands with China to the ICJ.

Last but not least, historically, in any sense, we are the new generations of the old history. The
true history of a nation or a culture or a civilization cannot be rewritten in a profound, flowery and
indirect meaning and implications although it is understandable to see them written in newer
vocabularies, modernized grammatical structures and common usages in any living language. So is the
history of Dokdo Island. The history of Dokdo is to be written by Koreans so as to be exact, impartial,
reliable and robust. Sure as Gold is precious and the Honey sweet, it is no doubt that Dokdo Island is the
Asset of the Land of Morning Calm. It is certain that not only in a near future but in my day-dreaming,
the national flag of Korea will be hoisted and the national anthem and emblem of Korea be heard and
seen on and around the lovely Dokdo Island.


: Around 12:30 a.m. on September 15, 2008, a random search has been done on the Web with
keywords (1) “Dokdo Island + Korea” and the keywords (2) “Dokdo Island +Japan”. The search results
were 657,000 for (1) and 60,100 for (2) on Google, 94,300 and 60,900 on MSN, 1210000 and 931000 on
Yahoo, and 862,000 and 598,000 on Alta Vista respectively. Interestingly, somehow, the results showed a
variety of interests on Dokdo Island dispute between The Republic of Korea and Japan around the globe.




(3) The History of Dokdo, Northeast Asian History Foundation, Feb 10, 2007.

(4) http://www.uni- (San Francisco
Peace Treaty)