Usando Was Not Takeshima:An Analysis of the Newly Discovered Reproduction of Kim Jeong-ho’s Map of the Great East Land
By SHIMOJO Masao,
Usando Was Not Takeshima:
An Analysis of the Newly Discovered Reproduction of Kim Jeong-ho’s Map of the Great East Land
By Shimojo Masao, Professor at Takushoku University
On August 2, 2017, the online edition of South Korea’s Yonhap News reported that a hand-drawn reproduction of Map of the Great East Land, a map of Korea originally created by the famed nineteenth-century cartographer Kim Jeong-ho, had been discovered in Japan. According to Yonhap News, this reproduction map included the island of Takeshima, known as Dokdo in Korea, as Korean territory, strengthening Korea’s claim to the island, whose ownership is today disputed between Japan and Korea. Many other media outlets promptly picked up this story, running headlines like “New Historical Map Found in Japan Marks Dokdo as Korean Territory” (from the online edition of The Korea Times) or “19th Century Copy of Korea Map Found with Dokdo Islets” (from the online edition of KBS World Radio).
It was Professor Nam Kwon-hee of Kyungpook National University who found the hand-drawn reproduction of Map of the Great East Land (Daedong Yeojido in Korean) that was alleged to include the island of Takeshima. Upon announcing his discovery, Professor Nam stated that, “Map of Korea (Chonggudo in Korean), a full-color map that Kim Jeong-ho completed in 1834, includes Dokdo on the right side of the island of Ulleungdo. And yet, Map of the Great East Land, which he produced later, omits Dokdo. We can thus assume that when this reproduction was drawn, it was supplemented with the parts that had been left out of the original Map of the Great East Land, which was a woodblock print.”
In fact, the island depicted on the reproduction of Map of the Great East Land is not labeled as Takeshima or Dokdo, but rather as “Usando”, which the Korean government has equated with Takeshima. As evidence, the Korean side cites a footnote in the geography section of Reference Compilation of Documents on Korea (Dongguk Munheon Bigo in Korean), which was written in 1770. This footnote claimed to quote Yu Hyeong-won’s book Geography of Korea (Dongguk Yeojiji in Korean) as saying that, “Usando is the island that the Japanese call Matsushima.” Matsushima was the old name for Takeshima.
However, the original text of Geography of Korea merely says that, “Usando and Ulleungdo are the same island.” There is no description equating Usando with Matsushima. The footnote in Reference Compilation of Documents on Korea had actually adopted the testimony of Ahn Yong-bok, a sailor who made an unauthorized visit to Japan’s Tottori Domain in 1696 and, when he was interrogated upon returning to Korea, claimed that, “Matsushima is Usando, and is also a territory of our country of Korea.”
Therefore, it is not a verified fact, as Professor Nam Kwon-hee assumes, that the Usando depicted on the reproduction of Map of the Great East Land is synonymous with Takeshima. Moreover, even the Usando/Matsushima to which Ahn Yong-bok referred could not have been the island we now know as Takeshima. When Ahn snuck into Japan, he was carrying a copy of Map of the Eight Provinces of Korea, which was one of the East Land Survey Maps (Dongnamdo in Korean) derived from Revised Augmented Survey of the Geography of Korea (Sinjeung Dongguk Yeoji Seungnam in Korean). However, the East Land Survey Maps depicted Usando as an island west of Ulleungdo and about two thirds of its size, though Takeshima is actually a much smaller island southeast of Ulleungdo. When Ahn testified that “Matsushima is Usando”, he must have meant the Usando of the East Land Survey Maps. Consequently, there is simply no proof to back Professor Nam’s argument that Usando is one and the same as Takeshima.
Furthermore, the fallout from Ahn Yong-bok’s unauthorized travels in Japan ultimately led the Korean government to have an official inspector, Bak Seok-chang, go to Ulleungdo and survey the island. In 1711, Bak produced Map of Ulleungdo (Ulleungdo Dohyeong in sandoKorean) that includes Usando as Jukdo, an island located about two kilometers east of Ulleungdo. Since then, Jukdo was the island that Korean maps designated as Usando. Takeshima, which is 92 kilometers south east of Ulleungdo, has never been called Usando.
For the aforementioned reasons, any scholar examining an antique map depicting Usando must first determine whether that map is based on Map of Ulleungdo or the older East Land Survey Maps. Kim Jeong-ho’s 1834 Map of Korea, for example, is based on Bak Seok-chang’s Map of Ulleungdo, and thus its Usando is actually Jukdo, not Takeshima. Map of Korea shows trees growing on Usando, in accordance with Bak’s description of Usando as “a field of haejang bamboo”, but the real Takeshima, unlike Jukdo, is a rocky crag on which no trees can grow.
Usando was not depicted at all on the original Map of the Great East Land, which Kim Jeong-ho published about thirty years after the release of his Map of Korea. Around the same time, he also published Geographic Accounts of the Great East Land (Daedong Jiji in Korean), which likewise did not include Usando. Though Kim Jeong-ho compiled Geographic Accounts of the Great East Land on the basis of Revised Augmented Survey of the Geography of Korea, he omitted the Usando that the East Land Survey Maps had adopted from it.
When the aforementioned reproduction of Map of the Great East Land was discovered in Japan, Professor Nam concluded that the addition of Usando, which he believed to be Takeshima, was a “supplement” undertaken by a later author.
However, Map of Korea and the original Map of the Great East Land inserted a note above Ulleungdo that reads, “east to west 24 kilometers, south to north 16 kilometers, circumference 80 kilometers.” The part about “circumference 80 kilometers” was clearly taken from Bak Seok-chang’s comment that, “The circumference of Ulleungdo is a mere 80 kilometers.” In addition, both Map of Korea and the reproduction of Map of the Great East Land include the five other small islands, apart from Usando (Jukdo), which appear on Bak Seok-chang’s Map of Ulleungdo. This constitutes important proof that both of these two maps are based on Map of Ulleungdo.
Professor Nam assumed that the Usando that was “supplemented” on the reproduction of Map of the Great East Land was Takeshima, but it was actually Jukdo as depicted on Kim Jeong-ho’s Map of Korea. The later individual who had reproduced Map of the Great East Land added Usando without being aware of this fact.
This latter point is plainly demonstrated by the commentary printed above the image of Ulleungdo on the reproduction map. It reads, “In the year of Yeongjong 11, Jo Choe-su, Governor of Gangwon Province, respectfully reported that Ulleungdo was a spacious land with fertile soil and abandoned human residences on it, and to its west lay Usando, another broad island. In other words, the island shown on the east of this map is different from the so-called ‘west’ island.”
Professor Nam praised the “elegant, detailed penmanship” used to write the commentary, and also suggested on the basis of it that the reproduction map was made before 1889 when the year “Yeongjong 11″ was officially renamed to “Yeongjo 11″. Still, similar commentary also appears on Map of Korea and Geographic Accounts of the Great East Land, calling into question its usefulness for estimating the date of the reproduction map.
Nonetheless, the commentary on the reproduction map does append one new line, the mapmaker’s opinion that, “the island shown on the east of this map is different from the so-called ‘west’ island.” This addition allows us to gauge the extent of the mapmaker’s knowledge about Usando. Jo Choe-su’s description of Usando as a broad island to the west of Ulleungdo matches the Usando depicted on the East Land Survey Maps. On the other hand, the Usando of Kim Jeong-ho’s Map of Korea was Jukdo. The creator of the reproduction map disputed only the location of Usando at the time he inserted his opinion that “the island shown on the east of this map is different from the so-called ‘west’ island”, which means that he did not realize that the “east” Usando was Jukdo. Therefore, the reason why Usando was added to the reproduction of the Map of the Great East Land was not, as Professor Nam asserted, because, “Supplements may have been necessary before the map could be put to practical use.”
Kim Jeong-ho depicted Usando (Jukdo) on Map of Korea, but not on the original Map of the Great East Land or on Geographic Accounts of the Great East Land that he compiled around the same time. Geographic Accounts of the Great East Land (Uljin Section) omitted Usando even though it was based on the reports of Revised Augmented Survey of the Geography of Korea, which did include Usando west of Ulleungdo. This was because Kim Jeong-ho had regarded Usando, the island two thirds the size of Ulleungdo, as being synonymous with Jukdo since the time he completed Map of Korea. While Map of the Great East Land was being reproduced, another person must have arbitrarily decided to fill in Usando on the right side of Ulleungdo, and this Usando was mistaken by Professor Nam as being Takeshima.
Korean research on Takeshima has tended to neglect critical analysis of documents, which is the foundation of all historical research, and to interpret sources using arbitrary criteria. The reproduction of Map of the Great East Land included Usando, contrary to the wishes of Kim Jeong-ho, and this Usando was in turn misrepresented as being Takeshima due to the sloppiness of the current crop of historians who have lacked a critical attitude towards the sources. This explains why so much false and fabricated history continues to come out of Korea.