Dokdo remains the Republic of Korea's easternmost territory, a viable environment with fresh water, trees and residents, all three of which are required for land to be classified as an island under international law.
Around 37 police, Ministry of Maritime Affairs & Fisheries personnel and three lighthouse keepers live on Dokdo along with a few dogs.
Their role is to protect Korea's sovereignty over Dokdo and provide security and assistance where necessary for local fishing vessels and visitors.
Their island home has its own address: San 1-37, Dokdo-ri, Ulleung-eup, Ulleung-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Republic of Korea. Hundreds of Korean citizens have changed their official addresses to Dokdo in a gesture of unity and national pride.
Some civilians have also lived on the island. Choi Jong-deok, a fisherman from nearby Ulleungdo, frequently worked the waters around Dokdo in 1965 before moving there in May 1968. He registered as a resident on Oct. 14, 1981. He passed away on Dokdo on Sept. 23, 1987. His son-in-law, Cho Jun-gi, then lived there until March 31, 1994. Another couple, Kim Seong-do and Kim Sin-yeol, moved to Dokdo in November 1991 and lived there for several years.
There have been casualties on Dokdo, with at least five officers having fallen into the sea and drowned. At the end of March 2005, National Police Chief Huh Joon-young and Yoo Hong-joon, president of the Cultural Properties Administration, went to Dokdo and saluted the officers' tombstones. "There is no island named Takeshima in the world," Chief Huh said, in reference to Japan's name for the Island.
For many years, civilian travel was subject to government approval because Dokdo is designated as a nature reserve. Tourist boats could circle the Island and 1,507 and 1,597 visitors were allowed to land in 2003 and 2004 respectively. Since mid-March 2005, tourists have been allowed to set foot on Dokdo in larger numbers - (up to 70 are permitted at any one time). Careful measures are in place to make sure they do not cause environmental damage. Tour companies forecast that some 5,600 people, each paying around 350,000 won (US$345), will take the Dokdo package this year.