Dokdo is ours?

1/125, f/8, ISO 100

Early to rise, we caught the bus to the other side of the island, hoping to catch a beautiful black rock beach which the photo on the tourist map portrayed.

Once we arrived, we realized why one local had looked at us funny when we told him of our destination. A concrete pier amongst a rocky water’s edge. Regardless, we made the best of it and swam in the clear blue waters, lay in the sun along the concrete pier.

“Beach time” complete, we began the walk back to the bus stop (20 minutes away by foot), and yet again, we were picked up and driven there. Neither way, did we walk the entire path.

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Our next stop was to the lowest point of the island, Naribunji, which was once the middle of a volcano, and recommended to us by our botanist neighbor/roommate.

Arriving back at the main harbor in the late afternoon, we noticed something that hadn’t been there the previous day- a saxophonist and posters, streamers and banners stating boldly, “Japanese-Go home! Dokdo is ours.”

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Dokdo is a long disputed island that lies between the waters of Korea and Japan, both claiming land ownership in order to extend fishing rights. Being so close to Dokdo, citizens of Ulleung-do are extremely proud (as are most Koreans, actually) of what they call the “pride of the nation.” I asked one man why the signs had suddenly shown up and he said “because tourist season.”

Comical or not, there was also a large banner with the photos of four Japanese board members, faces spray painted over with large red Xs.

Once the saxophonist finished, he invited us to some soju and raw squid with his friends, who turned out to be an art club from Pohang. So we joined the art professors, craft teachers, musicians etc. on their beach mats along with the dozens of other harbor-side Korean picnic-ers.

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Not important how many times we claimed to be full, they created for us an envelope of raw squid, spicy gochujang paste and garlic wrapped in a mint leaf and fed it to us (yes, they actually put it in our mouths for us). We were told to “chew slowly.” I tried my best to keep my gag reflex in check in front of our gracious hosts.

A few visuals from the trip.


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