Monday, January 08, 2007

Takeshima/Dokdo Ahn Yong-bon

As for Ahn Yong-bon, his statement is so full of untruths it’s laughable. He broke the Korean law forbidding its people to go over to Ulleungdo, and he was trying to lie his way out of being executed. He claimed to have met lords of Tottori and Tsushima, and even claimed that the latter begged him not to tell the shogunate about having ceded Usan, since the shogunate would punish him by ordering the death of his son as punishment. Both lords were in Edo (Tokyo) at the time and could not possibly have met Ahn. Furthermore, the son of the Tsushima lord had passed away the year before, and so the lord would not beg Ahn to save his son’s life.two cents at marmot

Ahn smuggles himself to Japan the second time to get Japan to cede what he believs to be Usan (Matsushima) to Chosun. However, Japan kick the troublemaker back to Korea, and he is promptly arrested in Korea. Then, he tries to talk himself out of the mess, and makes up the story that he got the Japanese to give up Usan/Matsushima. However, from the records in Japan and in Korea, it is clear that Ahn had no idea of what Matsushima was like, since he claimed that the island was far larger than Ulleungdo and lay between Ulleungdo and Tottori (which, if he had not lied about seeing it during his passage to Japan, must have been the Oki islands). However, Ahn’s lies stuck in Korea, and since then, Korean records claim that Usan is Matsushima (present Takeshima). But curiously, no Koreans came to Matsushima to enforce their claim.Two cents at marmot

Then, in the late 17th century, Ahn Yong-bok appears and claims that Usan is the island the Japanese call Matsushima, although it is clear from records that he considered Matsushima to be located northeast of Ullengdo and also much larger than Ulleungdo. Thus, it could not possibly have been Matsushima (present Takeshima) he was talking about, but this man was desperately trying to save himself after having broken the Korean law twice, so he tells the Chosun government that he had persuaded the Tsushima lord to cede Matsushima/Usan. The Tsushima lord did not meet him on his second (illegal) trip to Japan since he was away in Edo (Tokyo), and it is very clear that Ahn was lying - though I can’t blame him; going overseas was a crime punishable by death in Chosun.) Although Ahn is punished for his crime (banished to a remote inland area), the Koreans start to pick up his claim that Usan is Matsushima, without clearly understanding where or what Matsushima is. If they had, the maps after the 18th century would have shown two small rocks located en route to the Japanese archipelago and further away from Ullengdo. This is further complicated by the fact that Ulleungdo also had an smaller island named Songdo (松島), according to the conversation between King Gojong and Lee Gyu-won on April 7, 1882.two cents at occidentalism

Here is the excerpt from the Annals of King Sukjong, February 23, 1694.

自禮曹覆書曰: “弊邦禁束漁氓, 使不得出於外洋, 雖弊境之鬱陵島, 亦以遼遠之故, 不許任意往來, 況其外乎?

예조(禮曹)에서 회답하는 서신에 이르기를, “폐방(弊邦)에서 어민을 금지 단속하여 외양(外洋)에 나가지 못하도록 했으니 비록 우리 나라의 울릉도일지라도 또한 아득히 멀리 있는 이유로 마음대로 왕래하지 못하게 했는데, 하물며 그 밖의 섬이겠습니까?”

The letter from the (Korean) Ministry of Rites, Protocol, Culture and Education said, “We prohibit our fisherman from going far out into the open sea. We even restrict their freely going to our island of Ulleungdo because it is so far away, so why would we allow them to go to an island beyond (Ulleungdo)?”

That passage shows quite clearly that Chosun Korea considered Ulleungdo to be its eastern-most boundary.Gerry at occidentalism

Before Ahn Yong-Bok (1692)
In the 17th century (while Chosun enforced “empty island” policy), Ulleungdo was thought to be Japanese territory for at least 80 years from the early 17th century until the dispute began.
In 1692, Japanese fishermen found Korean fishermen gathering seaweed (Wakame) and abalones in Ulleungdo, which was, by the way, an illegal thing for Koreans because of the “empty island” policy. (See the details below)

On March 26th 1692, when the fishermen from the Murakawas reached Igashima (伊賀島; Jukdo in Korea)and saw Ulleungdo, they noticed that something was wrong. Many abalones were dried under the sun. There was somebody gathering abalones and fishing. Next day (27th) they went to Ulleungdo and saw two strange ships. One ship with about 30 people went by Murakawa’s ship. There were two foreigners on a boat offshore, so Murakawas called them and asked them, “Where did you come from?”. One of the fishermen said that they came from “Kawatenkawagu” of Chosun. One of Murakawas said to them, “This island belongs to Japan” and told them not to come here again. The Korean explained, “We didn’t have intention to gather abalones here from the beginning, we used to go to a different northern island every three years by order of our king but we met a storm this year and we drifted ashore”.
When Murakawas reached Ulleungdo, they discovered that their fishing gears and eight fishing boats were gone. Asked about this, the Koreans disclosed that their people used them without notice. The fishermen from the Murakawas took home some abalones on a skewer, a sedge hat and a net ball as evidences of violation of territory and reported it to the local government. The local government thought that it was a grave thing and brought this report to the Shogunate. The Shogunate decided not to make it a political issue as they took an optimistic view and thought the Koreans would leave the island after they mended their ships.

This episode may show that in those days Ulleungdo (Takeshima) was believed to be Japanese territory, even Korean fishermen thought so.Pacifist at occidentalism

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