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Names for Dokdo

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Names of Dokdo

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The name "Dokdo" must be examined in relation to "Ulleungdo," as they were often mentioned together in earlier records. Ulleungdo’s former name "Usanguk (State of Usan)," which is assumed to have been established by migrants from the mainland, was subjugated to the Silla Dynasty in the early 6th century (512). This fact can be found in "Silla Bongi" of Samguksagi (History of the Three Kingdoms) of the reign of King Jijeung (512), written during the 13th year, which records that "Usanguk was incorporated into Silla in June." Later, the name "Ulleungdo" became used more generally, and the nearby island, Dokdo, gained the name of "Usan."

In the section on Uljin-hyeon, Gangwondo, in Jiriji of Sejong Sillok (Geography Section of the Annals of King Sejong’s Reign), published in 1454 (14th year of the reign of King Sejong) during the Joseon Dynasty, it states: "The two islands of Usan (Dokdo) and Mureung (Ulleungdo) are located in the middle of the sea due east of the hyeon (Uljin County)."

This clearly states that there are two islands, Mureung and Usan, in the East Sea. In the section on Uljin-hyeon, Gangwondo, in Sinjeung Dongguk Yeoji Seungnam (Revised and Augmented Survey of the Geography of Korea), which was published in 1530 (26th year of the reign of Jungjeong), it is written: "Usando (Dokdo) and Ulleungdo, the two islands are located in the middle of the sea due east of Uljin hyeon (county)," which is consistent with the records of Sejong Sillok, Jiriji. During the Joseon era, Dokdo was also called "Sambongdo," "Usando," and "Gajido." In 1899, the Daehanjeondo, a map of Korea included in Volume 1 of Daehanjiji, which is a Korean geography textbook used in a modern education institute for middle school students at the time, there is an island marked "Usan (于山)" near Ulleungdo. Dokdo, which was a part of Uljin-hyeon of Gangwondo, was officially incorporated into Gangwondo as an island affiliated with Ulleung-gun by Imperial Decree No. 41 of 1900.

The administrative title "Dokdo" was first used by the Ulleung-gun Magistrate Shim Heung-taek in 1906, and incorporated into Gyeongsangbukdo with a revision of the administrative regions in 1914. It still bears this name today, and in Chinese characters, it is "獨島," which does not mean "lonely island" or "lone island." It was originally called "Dolseom (rocky island)" but was pronounced "Dokseom" by early migrants from the coast of the South Sea in Jeollanamdo, which was how it came to be written as "獨島." The Korean translation of the Chinese character "Seokdo" is "Dokseom," or "Dolseom." Even today, some Ulleungdo residents call the island by this name.

 

Meanwhile, in Japan, Dokdo was called "Matsushima" prior to the Meiji era, but after Japan claimed that it had incorporated it into its territory, it began calling it "Takeshima." In the West, Dokdo is known as "Liancourt Rocks," after the French whaling ship, Le Liancourt, which found the island in 1849. In 1885, the British named it "Hornet Rocks," after their ship, Hornet, and recorded it on their sea map.