Dokdo Foundation

01 An, Yong-Bok

  • An, who was born in Dongrae-bu, encountered Japanese fishermen who had been visiting Ulleungdo regularly with authorization from Japan’s Shogunate, while he was fishing at Ulleungdo, with 40 other fisherman from Ulsan, on a spring day in 1693. Because there were too many Japanese fishermen, An and his colleague, Eo-Dun Park, were captured and taken to Japan. In the winter of that year, An and Park were returned to Joseon through Tsushima. Since then, however, Japan began to formulate plans to capture Ulleungdo. In 1696, Joseon and Japan were having diplomatic disputes due to the possession of Ulleungdo. At that time, An visited Ulleungdo and found Japanese fishermen docked at Ulleungdo again.

He followed them to Houki of Japan, and called himself ‘a government official of Ulleungdo? to insist that Ulleungdo and Jasando were territories of Joseon. The Government of Joseon had a domestic dispute as to whether they should punish An for entering the restricted areas in Ulleungdo, but he was only lightly punished as he was more recognized by how he banned Japanese fishermen’s illegal visits to Ulleungdo.

An was a humble fisherman, but he had the courage to go to Japan and boldly insist that Ulleungdo and Dokdo were the territories of Joseon. Although Japan made greater efforts to capture Ulleungdo after An’s visit to Japan, the Government of Joseon eventually clarified that Ulleungdo was a territory of Joseon and obtained verification that Japan would keep Japanese fishermen from illegally intruding on Ulleundgo, after a long diplomatic dispute. When Japan planned to invade Joseon in the late 19th century, Ulleundgo was their greatest interest. Japan implemented various measures to capture Ulleungdo. However, they were unable to succeed in any of their attempts since An had already identified the fact that Ulleungdo was a territory of Joseon officially and clearly in the late 17th century.

02 Isabu

  • Isabu was a fourth-generation descendant of King Naemul of Shilla. In the 13th year of King Jijeung (A.D 512), he captured Usanguk (Ulleungdo and Dokdo areas presently) as the governor of Haseullaju (Gangneung area presently). At that time, Usanguk was an independent tribal nation by the seas. Because of its people’s aggressiveness and fieriness, it was not easy to defeat. Therefore, Isabu came up with a wise tactic. He made wooden lions, arranged them on his vessels, and proceeded to Usanguk. Then, he said, "if you don’t surrender, I’ll release these hungry lions and have them eat you." As a result, the people of Usanguk surrendered obediently and promised to pay taxes to Shilla every year.

Later on, Isabu became Ichan (the second highest position in Shilla’s Cabinet) in the 2nd year of King Jinheung (A.D 541). He also advised the King about the importance of organizing a national history and appointed Geo, Chilbu to publish Shilla′s national history. Dokdo has been a territory of Korea since the time of Isabu.

03 Lee, Gyu-Won

Lee, Gyu-Won was a military official of the Joseon Dynasty. He became an inspector of Ulleungdo in 1882 (the 19th year of King Gojong). After he inspected the Ulleungdo area (including Dokdo), he was seriously disturbed by the fact that Japanese people were illegally intruding on Ulleungdo and Dokdo to cut down trees and to put up signs as if it were their territory. Therefore, he sent an official complaint to the Japanese Embassy in Korea and suggested that they should send a complaint to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan. Deeply impressed by Lee’s efforts, King Gojong annulled the ′Island Vacating Policy?and started developing Ulleungdo and making stronger complaints to the Japanese Government. Later, he submitted ′Lee, Gyu-Won’s Inspection Report for Ulleungdo?to the Government and the Government sent an official complaint to Japan, and transferred selected people to Ulleundgo.

04 Hong, Sun-Chil

  • The Dokdo Royal Defense Team was organized on Dokdo on April 20, 1953 with about 30 Dokdo residents, including Commander Hong, Sun-Chil. Their devoted, nearly four year defense of Dokdo was so meritorious that Korea would not even be certain about its possession of Dokdo today, if it were not for their efforts. Dokdo had to be returned to Korea with the surrender of Japan in the WW II, but the process of retrieving it was not very easy. Although the Allied Forces had realized that Dokdo was Korean territory, the Treaty of San Francisco failed to include the article regarding the return of Dokdo to Korea due to the continuous lobbies and threats from Japan. Therefore, it eventually became an evidential support for Japan’s insistences that Dokdo, or Takeshima, was a territory of Japan.

The Korean Government’s declaration of “Peace Line?in January 1952 was followed by repetitive diplomatic and military disputes between Korea and Japan for the possession of Dokdo. When the Korean War broke out, the Korean Government could no longer spare their forces to protect Dokdo from Japan. It was the Dokdo Royal Defense Team that defended Dokdo from the invasive intrusion of Japan. They fought over 50 battles to protect Dokdo over a period of three years and eight months. Thanks to their somewhat reckless devotion, Dokdo has remained a territory of Korea and under the administration of the Korean Government until today.