South Korea’s Claim to Dokdo

In: The Korean Journal of International and Comparative Law
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  • 1 Professor, Handong International Law School

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Dokdo are tiny islets located in the East Sea (Sea of Japan) that have been the source of a longstanding conflict between Korea and Japan. Japan argues that the islets, referred to as Takeshima by Japan, were terra nullius when it incorporated them in 1905 during the Russo-Japanese War. However, South Korea claims that previous Korean kingdoms had sovereignty over the islets as evidenced through numerous historical records and maps. South Korea asserts original title over Dokdo noting that Japan’s incorporation of the islets and eventual annexation of the entire Korean peninsula was illegal. This article summarizes the major points South Korea has publicly raised in asserting its claim to Dokdo noting that South Korea’s claim to Dokdo is framed from the perspective of the historical injustice of Japanese imperialism and that Dokdo was the first Korean territory taken by Japan in its expansion into Asia in the early 20th century.