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Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo)

While Korea and Japan try to solve the ownership issue, these small rocky isles inhabited by a single Korean family draw tens of thousands of tourists


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This cluster of small isles is situated deep in the East Sea, has a rocky landscape which is not really convenient for life and a small area of 0.18 square kilometres. The only permanent inhabitants are two Koreans—an octopus farmer and his wife, and also policemen and lightkeepers help to maintain the isles.

Nevertheless, the place yearly draws around 100,000 tourists, and in 2005 a couple got married on these rocks in the middle of the sea.

This small rocky area with no life conveniences appear to be a subject of centenarian argument between Korea and Japan, which actually compete for fishing grounds and resource rights.

The fight started in the beginning of 20th centuty: Korea claimed it in 1900, and Japan did the same 5 years later. Moreover, according to historical data, Korea did conquer this island for the first time back in the 6th century, though Japan discards this idea, as though it was another island, probably non-existent at all. After all, the island is some 30 km closer to Korea's land compared to Japan.

Anyway, for the Koreans this is their "Dokdo" meaning "solitary island," and for the Japanese it remains "Takeshima" or "bamboo island." As to its English name the Liancourt Rocks, it comes from the French ship Le Liancourt that almost crashed on the island in 1849. But enough of the history here. Hopefully, the argument will soon be peacefully settled.

If you wish for a trip to the desolate rocky isles, better plan it beforehand, as location and small size result into harsh climate. Because of great swells, landing is frequently a problem, so ferries dock approximately once every 40 days. Mind that winters might be snowy, and summers are windy, so spring and autumn seem to be the best season.

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