Wednesday, August 25, 2010

18th century map proving Dokdo belongs to Korea found in Japan

Kobe Municipal Museum in Japan has been keeping a woodblock printing of a map of Korean province. Gangwondodo, in the 18th century, reported Sankei Shinbun online news on Tuesday. 

In particular, Gangwondodo, the map of Gangwon Province, in the mideast on the Korean Peninsula, includes Dokdo in a different name. There has been territorially controversial with Japan.

Judging from the name of location shown on the map, Sankei reported this map is presumed to be circulated in Joseon from 1684 to 1767. This is the first time such a map of the Korean Peninsula of the period has been actually confirmed. 

In the historical point of view, the map is important since it is clear evidence that shows Joseon Korea (1392-1910) considered Dokdo, an island located far off the east coast as part of Gangwon Province and thus its territory. The island currently belongs to North Gyeongsang Province, below Gangwon Province.

However, Sankei claimed that the island drawn south of the peninsula on the map is not Dokdo since Dokdo is located 92 kilometers southeast of Ulleungdo, an island nearest to Dokdo.

Japan confirmed Jasan, the name of Dokdo at that time, as part of the Korean territory when Ahn Yong-bok, a fisherman who used to work as a diplomat, visited Japan in 1696. Sankei also pointed out this event but added “Jasan shown on the Gangwondodo doesn’t match Takeshima (Japanese name of Dokdo) in location and direction. Therefore, it must be a different island.”

Unlike Sankei’s report, Dokdo experts are interpreting the map differently. They are saying the map proves that Joseon recognized Dokdo as their property since it is shown as part of Gangwon Province. 

Prof. Yuji Hosaka, head of Dokdo research center at Sejong University, refuted Japan’s argument. “The map was drawn when there was no enough knowledge regarding longitude and latitude,” he said. “An accurate map came out from 19th century. Dokdo in “Gangwondodo” shows that the dynasty confirmed Dokdo as its territory.”

Ahn explained “Jasan” is the name he first used for Dokdo and it first appeared in the annals of Sukjong, 19th king of Joseon, in 1728, according to Prof. Hosaka. Based on Ahn’s comment, Hosaka pointed out this was probably made after 1730 since the map shows the name Jasan. 

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