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"The Korean government is strongly dedicated to protecting the far reaches of the nation's borders, and the reason rings clear: freedom is not free until Dokdo is unanimously recognized as Korean territory."

Approximately 217 kilometers from the eastern coast of Korea is Dokdo, the nation's easternmost territory and precinct of Ulleungdo County, Gyeongsangbukdo Province. The area surrounding the island is rich in rare wildlife. Korea's fishing resources also draw harvest from the fertile beds of this central location in the East Sea. The climate is heavily influenced by warm sea currents, and volcanic rocks form the bulk of Dokdo's domain.

Dokdo is indisputably Korean territory. Historical records dating back to 930 indicate that Usanguk, a tributary state to the Goryeo Kingdom (918-1392) occupied the island in addition to neighboring Ulleungdo. Geographical records from the Sejong Sillok (1432), or the "Chronicle of King Sejong" also mention the island as Usando, land that "in clear weather comes into view." Even today, during fair weather Dokdo is visible from Ulleungdo, which is a mere 87 kilometers from the easternmost territory of Korea's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Official Korean sovereignty over Dokdo was finalized in 1696 when Joseon-period patriot Ahn Yong-bok received written confirmation from the Tokugawa Shogunate recognizing Korean jurisdiction. Imperial Japan officially declared Dokdo its territory in 1905 in the opening stages of its forced annexation of the entire Korean Peninsula. It was consistent with the principle of national independence that Korea later reclaimed sovereignty over the island in 1945.

In mid-April 2006 Japan launched a maritime survey near Dokdo. Japanese conduct this past spring was a clear preemptive breach of Korean territory. As President Roh Moo-hyun justifiably proclaimed, 'Japan's present claim to Dokdo is an act negating the complete liberation and independence of Korea...this is a matter where no compromise or surrender is possible, whatever the costs and sacrifices may be."

As a state, Korea also upholds obligations to protect its citizens currently residing on its easternmost terrain. Some 30 Korean police continue to patrol the area. Kim Seong-do and Kim Shil-yeol, a married couple currently living on Dokdo, were prompted by a love of country to move their family registry in 1991. They are the fourth in a recent line of Koreans who claimed residency. Prior to the Kims, Choe Jong-deok, Jo Jun-ki, and Song Jae-uk and his family of six all formerly took residency. Choe Jong-deok, the first official Dokdo resident, passed away in 1987. Both Choe and the Kims, with the help of women sea divers from neighboring Ulleungdo have left a human mark on the island. Using sand from proximal seabeds, they manually constructed an impressive flight of 998 steps across the craggy cliffs of Seodo (West Island). Needless to say, the steps still stand today.

In recent years Korean civic groups have also landed on Dokdo to embark upon tree-planting projects. These activities date back to 1973 and have proved naysayers wrong; Dokdo can, with enduring effort, be transformed into a habitable environment and to this day 800 trees have been planted. Tourism is also making full stride. In 2003 the Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued special permits for visitors who wish to land on Dokdo and thousands of patriotic Koreans have made their mark on boats sailing from Ulleungdo. Now in 2006 the Korean government is strongly dedicated to protecting the far reaches of the nation's borders, and the reason rings clear: freedom is not free until Dokdo is unanimously recognized as Korean territory.

Источник:  korea.net

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