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Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo) in South Korea

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

Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo)
Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo)
Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo)
Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo)
Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo)

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.

Practical info

When is the ideal period to visit Liancourt Rocks?

To avoid harsh climate conditions, visitors should opt to plan their visit to Liancourt Rocks from March to May or September to November. The ferry departs approximately once every 40 days from Ulleungdo, hence prior arrangements must be made. Though the small islands with a limited area of 0.18 square kilometers can serve as tourist spots, the weather can get snowy during winters and windy during summers. Show more

What is the location of Liancourt Rocks?

Deep in the East Sea are Liancourt Rocks, which are also known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea. The small rocky area of 0.18 square kilometers comprises two islets and is located almost 87.4 kilometers east of South Korean Island Ulleungdo and approximately 157.5 kilometers northwest of Oki Islands, Japan. The population of Liancourt Rocks enjoys only two inhabitants, an octopus farmer and his wife. Show more

Who are the inhabitants of Liancourt Rocks, and what is the size of the area?

Though the area of Liancourt Rocks is a mere 0.18 square kilometers, it serves as a strategic focal point for the territorial claims of Japan as well as South Korea. Two Koreans, an octopus farmer with his wife, are the only permanent inhabitants of the small rocky islets. The rough terrain and climatic conditions make it impossible for other life conveniences. The islets are supervised by light keepers and policemen. Show more

What is the basis of the territorial dispute between Japan and Korea over Liancourt Rocks?

The ownership fight over Liancourt Rocks between Japan and South Korea started in the early 20th century. After Korea claimed the islets in 1900, Japan did the same in five years, leading to a territorial dispute that remains unsolved. The two countries claim historical evidence and territorial ownership of the area, which is a hotspot for resource rights and fishing. Ownership of Liancourt Rocks has been retained by South Korea since 1954. Show more

How can visitors arrange their trip to Liancourt Rocks, and how often do ferries reach the area?

Liancourt Rocks is reachable from South Korean Ulleungdo island from where the ferry docks roughly every 40 days due to the inhospitable setting of the area. Private boat rides can also be arranged from the neighboring fishing villages. Visitors need to bear in mind the severe climate and scarce amenities while planning their visits to Liancourt Rocks. March to May or September to November are the best periods to visit, keeping aside the weather issues. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin