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Dokdo is Korean Territory!

Dokdo-li, Ulleung-eup, Ulleung-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Republic of Korea

Dokdo is an small volcanic island which is located in East Sea, and is the eastern most part of Korean territory. Dokdo has been proved to be Korean territory since the 6th century according to numerous historical records, but ownership has been a big issue between Korea and Japan for a long time. Against the Japanese argument, the Korean government and other civic organizations' efforts to defend Dokdo has been persistent. This writer had a chance to go to Dokdo Academy Camp. Let me tell you about my vivid memories of Dokdo camp, from March 30th to April 1st.

1st day

On the first day of the camp on March 30th, all of the camp participants including me and Yoogyung, who is also a reporter of Hongik Tidings, gathered at Sejong Center in Gwanghwamun. We had a brief orientation, and started off for Dokdo. We all fell asleep on the bus because it was midnight.

2nd day

Almost five hours later, we arrived at Hupo Port early in the morning . We had some extra time while waiting for the ship, so we watched the sunrise and had a light breakfast. Some of the members took medicine to avoid seasickness. I was confident because I don’t usually get sick on any kind of rides. However, the ocean waves were so much higher than I expected, so the boat rolled heavily in the waves, making me feel like I was riding a two-hour roller coaster. Everyone on the ship chose to sleep to save themselves from the trouble of getting sick. So beware, if you are planning for a Dokdo tour in the future.

After a long time travelling from Hupo Port to Uleungdo and then getting off and reboarding the ship from Uleungdo, we finally arrived at Dokdo. But unfortunately, because of the high waves, the captain of the ship suddenly announced we are not able dock on the island. I felt sad at missing the opportunity to get onto Dokdo. (After we came back to Uleungdo the tour bus driver, who is a local resident, said it is rare to get a chance to get on the island because the depth of water around Dokdo is about two thousand meters, so huge waves are easily made.) The ship sailed around Dokdo in a big circle and we could view Dokdo from the ship deck. We saw Seodo(West Island), Dongdo(East Island) and other groups of rocks consisting the whole of Dokdo. The Dokdo islands were small and rocky and it seemed like nature is well protecte, and we could see so many seagulls around them.

Coming back to Uleungdo, we had an Uleungdo bus tour. We were all tired, but we enjoyed the humorous talk from the bus driver.

Trivia about Uleungdo

- Pumpkin is the specialty of Uleungdo. You can buy pumpkin bread, pumpkin candy and pumpkin syrup made in pumpkin factory

- There are only two traffic lights in Uleungdo. But now Uleungdo is under busy construction of roads and tunnels.

- There is a group of rocks in the sea called Samsun-am which legend says that three fairy sisters became rocks because they refused to go back to heaven and stayed there

- There are four elementary schools, four middle schools and one high school in Uleungdo.

- At the time when Uleungdo prospered because of the fishing business of squid, it had a population of more than 30 thousand, but now there are less than 10 thousand people left.

On third day, we woke up early in the morning and took a boat at 10:30 am and then a bus and went back to Gwanghwamun at night.

At first, I was so disappointed that I couldn't land on Dokdo although it was for a safety reason. But I knew that visit to Dokdo is a rare opportunity, so I found satisfaction from my experience that I have been to Uleungdo and have seen Dokdo.

Recently, as Prime Minister Abe's approval rating declines in Japan, the Japanese government is consistently making political capital out of the Dokdo issue. Furthermore, they announced a new policy which states that the compulsory education of Dokdo ownership is extended to the high school curriculum. This was made subsequently after they revised the education law last year, about compulsory education in elementary and middle school. This is not a simple matter. I really insist that Korean students also need an early education of Dokdo ownership as well as the international promotion of Dokdo being Korean should be expanded.

*Shingled House (Neo-wa House) in Nari Basin ; a house which is built by pioneers from Gangwon-do in 1940s.

*View of the unrise near Hupo Port on the second day

Cho Suyeon  sooyon5o@gmail.com

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