Sunday, October 5, 2014

Dokdo Update: Actually Going to Dokdo

We awoke on Monday to a rainy day, and we were all nervous that the trip out to Dokdo would be cancelled. Our leaders told us we would know relatively soon, but as of the morning, the trip was still on. 

But first, we had to visit the Dokdo Museum!

the rainy morning view from our pension on Ulleungdo

Hiking up to the Dokdo museum

Dokdo is actually 2 islands, Seodo and Dongdo, which, creatively,
mean West Island and East Island

Representing Ulleungdo and Dokdo

scaled down, it doesn't look far. It takes about an hour and
40 minutes to get to Dokdo from Ulleungdo

This rock used to have the names carved
of all the men who died while taking
care of Ulleungdo, like on the journeys and such

Learning more about the houses

a loom for weaving hemp I think.

And then our leader, Jon, broke the display case...

There is also a cable car to the top of Ulleungdo,
from which you can see Dokdo on a clear day.
We didn't go cause we actually went to Dokdo

A wall of tiles where love of Dokdo is proclaimed

KBS actually has a live feed of Dokdo. 24/7.

Take all of this with a "I'm living in Korea" grain of salt:

History time. Japan apparently didn't try and lay claim to Dokdo until 1905. Before then, they had always marked it on their maps as Korean territory, and had sometimes even acknowledged it during the occupation of Korea, which lasted until around 1945, circa the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan was then understandably concerned with its own affairs, and pulled out of Korea. Korea didn't have much time to get their affairs in order, because the Korean war started some 5 years later. 

Anywho, up until 1905, Japan hadn't made any claims to Dokdo. Dokdo is apparently resource rich place, with lots of fish (and sea lions hunted to extinction there- they were sought for their, ahem, male parts. To help the human males with theirs...), and possibly natural gas or oil. Ulleungdo is also rich in resources and very close to Dokdo, so whoever claims one has a heads up on the other. 

Korea would also like you to keep in mind that Japan is in land disputes with at least 3 countries, and that it also refuses to let Okinawa be its own state again, which it was before they took it. I think they're also in dispute with Russia and Taiwan?

Regardless, here are some things we saw in the museum that assert Korea's claim over Dokdo

See picture below

this basically says that in 1530, this
Japanese map says that Dokdo is Korean.

scaled down model of Dokdo

Another Japanese map that labels Dokdo as Korean
apparently. I can't read japanese, so I'm guessing
that's what it says.

Koreans expelling Japanese pirates from Dokdo

Japanese maps for geography students
(could be pre or during occupation, I can't recall)
that lavel Dokdo as Korean.

The maps and records are difficult to discern, however.  The name of the rocks changed many times, and the references to the islands are unclear, as there is another island (Jukdo) near Ulleungdo, and there is uncertainty about the accuracy of the ancient maps.

I think Koreans believe that Dokdo was claimed around the time that Isabu conquered Ulleungdo, which would put it in the Silla dynasty period, around 500 AD. People have been living on Ullengdo since 500 BC, allegedly.

Some Korean scholars argue that there are records of people living on Dokdo (which would be impossible without assistance from Ulleungdo), as early as the 1400s, though Japanese scholars claim this is the closer Jukdo that is being referenced. 

The islands were only sporadically occupied during the Joseon period (remember the kid story from last blog? That was because of this evacuation), because of Japanese invasions. Apparently, Dokdo isn't mentioned clearly until the Tokugawa Shogunate period around the late sixteen hundreds. 

Some Japanese scholars even argue that "Takeshima" refers to Ullengdo,not Dokdo, making both islands an important part of the conflict.

There's a lot to dispute here. I would love to go to Japan and see the museum from their perspective. Anyway, Korea has had a military presence on Dokdo since about 1954, as well as apparently claiming ownership over Ulleungdo for a while.

I just like the headline

After hearing about it a million times, and seeing tons of 'proof' that Dokdo is Korean and should not be called Takeshima (as the Japanese call it) or the Liancourt Rocks, as they are officially known, as it's disputed territory, we headed out to finally see the place.

We had to ride this ferry there. I took meds for most of this trip
sooooo I just slept a lot. No seasickness, though, so yay!!

We got our Dokdo swag

Jon was excited

I'm sure the ahjusshi next to me loooooved this

Apparently, because of the harsh climate out at sea, there's a window of only about 45 days where you can actually dock on Dokdo. I'm finally part of the 1%! Less than 1% of Koreans have set foot on Dokdo! Huzzah!

Soooo we landed and took lots of pictures.

Representing my school!

We did it!!! It was a loooong trek from Seoul to here.

the first sighting

Apparently there are 2 people that live over on that island,
Seodo, I think.You can spot the little house at the bottom

here it is. They have to get all of their supplies from Ulleungdo

Dokdo even has a postal address and street name

we took lots of selfies

I promise this was all more impressive on the island, and is more meaningful if you live in Korea and have heard the debates about the Liancourt rocks. My kids regularly wear shirts and hats, and carry bags and pencil cases and other paraphernalia that proclaim "Dokdo is Korean territory!"

You have to remember that Dokdo is also a figurehead conflict that coincides with the underlying resentment from the occupation of Korea by Japan. The Koreans believe that Japan has not justifiably apologized or admitted to the crimes they committed during the occupation and colonization (and they were pretty brutal...), so a lot of the aggression over Dokdo stems from it being a representative of the larger movement and conflict with Japan.

Korea worries that if Japan gets its army back, it will try and claim Dokdo and Korean territory with force, as it has before. To many Koreans, Dokdo is a symbol for the sovereignty they were able to reclaim from Japan, a sovereignty which was lost for decades, and which caused many horrible things to happen, such as taking Japanese names, the attempted eradication of Korean language and culture, and comfort women.

They may look like rocks, but to the Koreans, they're a big symbol of reclaiming what was lost to Japanese aggression. We saw women crying when they landed on Dokdo. To us, this is nothing big. To them, it's a monumental moment and place. It was moving to be privy to that.

sometimes the selfie stick is a fail
We landed on Dongdo!

Alas, we were only given 20 minutes on the island to take pictures and sightsee. Not that there is a ton to see, but after a 4 hour bus to Samcheok, a 3.5 hour boat ride to Ulleugndo and a nearly 2 hour ferry to Dokdo, 20 minutes isn't a lot of time.

We got back on the boat to head back to Ulleungdo, and we turned to see the soldiers waving at us. I'm sure that this is somehow a prestigious position, but it's also got to be one of the most boring. Dokdo is so out of the way and hard to get to, and there isn't anything to do there besides look at the other rock... It's an important part of Korean history though. At at least you can get internet out there. Yep. I totally checked into FB out on Dokdo. THAT'S awesome internet.

Even I was sad to leave them. They must get sick
of each other haha.

We then boarded the boat back to the mainland. Had we stayed for a few more hours, we certainly would have gotten stuck on Ulleungdo. The next day, a storm hit and the waves were massive! Yikes!!

We had to prepare a final presentation for the group. Our group did a dramatic interpetation of the Isabu Lion story, complete with lots of lion puns ("this is claws for concern!" and "you must be lion!").

We had fun, even if our group's humor didn't jive with the rest of the groups haha.

one last group pic!

My awesome group!

 Tired but happy, we headed back to Seoul.

We stopped at a rest stop. THIS IS WHY

So that's it for Dokdo!! I hope you all have learned a lot. It was an awesome trip. I met some great teachers, I hung out with the SMOE coordinator, who is super awesome, even if he totally TROLLS US ALL THE TIME... Whatever, Jon. Anyway, yeah, I just generally had a good time, and I sucessfully avoided the stomach bug that half of the group got, so I was feeling pretty good. Pair that with a long weekend, and I'm a happy camper! 

Sorry it took so long to update! Cheers!

Here's a song that one of the groups made up for our Dokdo presentations, along with some footage of us on the trip. So fun!

And since I started watching his newest drama, My Lovable Girl, here's a song from Rain, who's making his post military service comeback in dramas and music now.

I don't know what this concept is. Or his hair. Oh well. I dig this song.

1 comment:

  1. Neat piece of history I've never known about and Ulleungdo looks totally cool. Thanks for sharing!