The Heart of Japanese-occupied Korea’s Independence Activists! Dokdo

If the international community asked Koreans “What does Dokdo mean to the Korean people?”
They would reply “Dokdo is the heart of the Korean independence movement that which began when it fought to regain their own country’s sovereignty from Japanese Imperialism.”

If so, you would then be curious as to what connection the island of Dokdo has with Korea’s independence activists who fought for Korea’s independence during Japanese occupation (1910~1945). It has a connection with Korea and Japan’s history. In order to help, we will introduce statements from leaders in both Korea and Japan:

“Dokdo is the very first land Japan took from Korea in their pillaging and domination of the Korean peninsula. It is the transfer and occupation of the land that was aim of Japan during the Russo-Japanese War. The Russo-Japanese War was an invasion of the Korean Peninsula by Imperial Japan to gain control of Korea. Under the pretense of the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, Japan landed troops on Korean land and occupied the peninsula. Currently, the Japanese government is arguing for the rights to its imperialist war aggression for the former colony, the occupied territory rights to argue away territorial rights. To Koreans, Dokdo is not just simply a problem about the rights to a small island but is a problem symbolizing the settlement of a wrongful history and established rights with Japan.”

The Republic of Korea’s 16th President, April 25th, 2006

“In order to end the vicious cycle of this argument over land, they need to recognize and reflect on their own historical problems and sincerely disclose the truth. In the present, we must not forget that Korea and Japan’s land dispute is grounded in the history of modern Japan’s aggressions in Asia. Japan needs to understand that its incorporation of Dokdo is representative of its colonization of Korea during the Russo-Japanese War, and through being something that happened in the midst of the deprivation of diplomatic rights, to Koreans, Dokdo is not just simply an island but a starting point to its attacks and colonization.”

-September 28th, 2012, A public appeal from Japanese intellectuals urging Japan’s self-examination. More than 1,270 Japanese citizens, including Nobel Prize winners, signed this appeal.

“Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who hasn’t experienced war personally, can’t even imagine how many frightening crimes Japan committed in the past. Abe denies all of the things that the Japanese have suffered after the defeat and tries to go back to the days before World War II”.

-Nobel Prize Winner and Author Oe Kenzaburo, March 2015

“Dokdo is the very first of Korea’s land in Japan’s process to dominate the Korean peninsula. It is Korea’s territory. Japan denying this fact is no different than Japan refusing to reflect on their imperialist aggressions. Even in problems like the Japanese army’s comfort women, the perpetrator, the Japanese government, cannot just declare “It’s over”. You cannot smooth over crimes against humanity during wartime with these words. The only true solution is remembering history- even the unpleasant- and learning from that history.”

-The Republic of Korea’s 19th President, March 1st, 2018

That’s right. In Dokdo being the first occupied Korean land in Japan’s domination of the Korean peninsula, the Japanese government denying that Dokdo is Korean land is, to Koreans, a refusal to reflect on their imperialist aggressions. Korea, who has firmly protected its independence for 5,000 years, is holding a painful history from when it became an occupied colony of Imperial Japan from 1910-1945. And Dokdo was the first victim of Imperialist Japan’s attack on the Korean peninsula.

In 1905, five years before Imperialist Japan colonized Korea, Korea was forcefully deprived of its diplomatic rights and Korea’s territory of Dokdo was transferred to Japan’s territory. Just like how Imperialist Japan took away Dokdo by force, they took the lives of countless independence activists that were protecting their own country. In addition, in fighting for Korean’s independence under Japanese rule, were thrown in prison and subjected to torture. However, Korea’s heart to recapture the country’s independence did not stop. The total number of Korean inmates Imperialist Japan had arrested in 1908 was 2,424 but in 1943, the number had risen to 23,532. On March 1st, 1919, as many as 200,000 Koreans everywhere on the peninsula became independence activists and shouted “Long live Korean independence!”

In the present 21st century, Imperialist Japan’s period of aggression has begun to move again.

The Japanese government has illegally taken Korea’s Dokdo out of Japanese elementary, middle, and high school textbooks and are promoting a distorted history about Dokdo to not only Japanese youth but to the entire international community.

Hereupon, in order to avoid a repeat of Imperialist Japan’s hurtful domination in Korean history, Koreans are becoming “21st century independence activists” and are blocking Japan’s historical distortion and making peace in Asia. Korean youth are letting the world know of Japan’s historical distortions, cautioning the international community of Imperialist Japan, and protecting peace in Asia.

Please support Korean youth independence activists’ dream to make peace in Asia! Understand the Korean people’s heart and even if it is just through cheering them on, you are also a 21st century global independence activist protecting peace in Asia.

Please refer to the site below for more information on Dokdo.

A Letter to World Friends – Why Dokdo is a Korean Territory