Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Is Dokdo an island or a rock? What is the difference between the two?

Is Dokdo an island or a rock? Of course, it’s an island, Koreans reply. However, Dokdo is not internationally recognized as an island. It is known worldwide as the Liancourt Rocks.

Although the name Liancourt is flawed because of its imperialist origin, calling them “rocks” is also wrong.

The island is universally known as the “Liancourt Rocks” in the United States, and it is still not called Dokdo. We should not make the mistake that the United States will support Korea on this matter. We will now delve into this serious subject matter.

A Google search of Dokdo shows clearly it is called Liancourt Rock.

Is Dokdo an Island?
The root of the problem regarding Dokdo between Korea and Japan is whether it is considered an island or a rock.

The problem is essentially that people everywhere recognize it as a rock, and we will therefore examine the difference between an island and a rock, and why we believe it is an island.

What is the difference between an island and a rock?
According to Clause 121, Line 1 of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, an island has 12 nautical miles of territorial waters, 24 nautical units of contiguous miles, and has 200 nautical miles of Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf.

However, a rock, according to the stipulations of line 3, only has 12 nautical miles of territorial waters and cannot have an Exclusive Economic Zone or continental shelf.

Results of Search of Dokdo on United States Board on Geographical Names Homepage (

So, is Dokdo an island or a rock?
So, is Dokdo an island or a rock? It is surrounded by ocean. It is above water during high tide. It is a natural landform. Also, people can live here because there are springs that supply drinking water. It fulfills all the definitions for an island of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. However, it is not internationally recognized as an island.

Each Country’s Tragic Efforts to Claim the Island
Because the distinction between a rock and an island is vague, all countries have a tendency to refer to rocks as islands in order to benefit their countries. This is because an EEZ of 200 nautical miles can be declared from a rock-island, thereby securing a wide access to the sea. Also, they thereby gain access to ocean resources.

Using this principle, the United States, Japan, France, the United Kingdom, Venezuela, New Zealand, Mexico, Costa Rica, and other countries with sea coasts declare EEZs for both inhabited and uninhabited islands and secure exclusive rights to contiguous waters.

Venezuela received recognition from the United States for a 200 nautical mile EEZ for the uninhabited rock Aves Island located 300 nautical miles from the coast, which is 1/8 the size of Dokdo. Mexico used the uninhabited rock Clarion Island to declare a 200 nautical mile EEZ.

Japan is so obsessed with making the 3 pyeong coral reef Okinotorishima, which is 1,700 km from Tokyo, into an island, that it is planting coral there.

Let’s ask the government what it thinks. Is Dokdo an island or a rock?
Dokdo is clearly an island. However, according to National Assembly records, our government does not clearly recognize it as an island. The statements they make are very vague. Although the U.N. Law of the Sea 121.1 clearly defines an island, the documentation from the National Assembly is vague on this point.

I hope the Lee Myeongbak government does not fail to label it correctly as an island. If this administration calls it a rock or takes an uncertain stance, it may lose control of Dokdo.

There is no need to be indignant at the Japanese. The problem will be resolved only if Dokdo is recognized as an island. Dokdo is a little sister island off the mother island of Ulleungdo, a fact which must be made clear.

Japan’s Unreasonable Demands
Dokdo is not visible from Japan’s the Oki Islands. An island must be visible from a main island in order to be recognized as an attached island. Dokdo is clearly visible to the naked eye from Ulleungdo.

Reporters in the press photo department printed a picture in which Dokdo and Ulleungdo appear together on the first page of the newspaper. The Japanese press cannot print these photos at all, which shows that Dokdo is a little sister island off its main island of Ulleungdo.

Dokdo is not visible at all from Oki Island. This is proof of Japan’s demands are unreasonable and excessive.

More : The Dokdo Research Institute


  1. As one of korean, This dispute regarding Dokdo should be solved soon, Japan's behavior is absurb, unreasonable,and not worth consideration.

  2. Dokdo is historically and geographically our nation's valuable territory and assert.


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