Ahn Yong-bok was to be severely punished as a criminal in 1693 but he could survive because of the political change in the Chosun government. He came to Japan again in May-June 1696 with other 10 Koreans, it was five months later than
He later became a hero in
At first, we will take a look at the first stage of this incident (the stage until Ahn reached Oki island) as part I:
1) From “Ikeda archives” which was written in November 1722, the 7th year of Kyoho:
A ship came to Oki island in June＊ 1696 (the 9th year of Genroku). As the
officials under the local administrator Goto Kakuemon, Nakase Dan-emon and
Yamamoto Sei-emon, asked them, it revealed that 32 Korean ships had went to
Takeshima (Ulleungdo) and 11 people of them came over here on one ship. They
said that they came here because they had an entreaty to Houki county. The two
officials hired an express messenger and sent the information to their
（＊：More accurately, it was 18th of May
according to other records.）
2) From the Korean document “粛宗実録” (vol.30) which was edited in 1728:
Notice: There are some inconsistencies here.
During the investigation by the
office of defence, Ahn Yong-bok told as follows. He went to 蔚山 to see his mother
and happened to see a Buddhist priest 雷憲 and others, with
whom Ahn told about Ulleungdo. Being told that there were lots of sea products
at Ulleungdo, the priest and others were interested in the island, so they rode
on the ship and prepared to go there. When they arrived at the island, the main
three peaks were rising into the sky in the shape of triangle. It needed two
days to go from southern part of the island to northern part. It needed the same
to go from the eastern part to western part. There were lots of various trees in
mountain district. There were hawks, craws, cats and Japanese ships too. People
on the ship were afraid of them. Ahn said (to Japanese), “Ulleungdo is our
border. Why do you Japanese cross the border? We will tie up all of you!” When
he cried this out at the head of the ship*, the Japanese said “We are living at
Matsushima, we happened to come here to catch fish and we are going back to the
place where we live”. Ahn said, “ Matsushima is Usando (Josando), this also
belongs to our country. Why can you live there?” At dawn on the next day, they
pulled a boat and went to Usando (Josando). Japanese were boiling fish glue in
the pots in line. Ahn broke them down with his cane and scolded them loudly.
Japanese took the equipments and loaded them onto their ship, put up a sail and
were gone. They rode the ship and chased the Japanese but met a strong wind and
drifted ashore to Oki island. The chief of the island asked them why they went
there. So he said, “When I came here before, there was a document written by the
Chief Adviser (kanpaku) that says Ulleungdo and Josando are Chosun’s boundary.
But it is not strict in this country about it and now they crossed the border
again. Why did they do this? Please tell this to Houki county”, but there was no
reply for a while.
(*head of the ship: the word
has another meaning “boatman”, so some scholars interpreted this sentence as
“when he went forward and cried out to the
(1) He said that he met Japanese at Ulleungdo in May 1696 and scolded them. But in reality, the shogunate banned Japanese fishermen to go to Ulleungdo in January the same year and it is apparent from the record that there were no Japanese fishermen who went there in 1696. So this part of his story seems to be a made-up story to impress Korean officials who investigated him.
(2) His story of Usando is full of inconsistency too. If Usando was Liancourt rocks (Matsushima in those days) as he insisted, how Japanese fishermen could live on the small rock island? How Japanese fishermen boiled pots in line on the narrow rock island? And how Ahn’s boat could visit the island 92km away at dawn? It usually took one day to get there.
(3) He said that there was a document written by the Chief Adviser (kanpaku) when he had come to
3) One-volume Memorandum concerning the Korean boat that came alongside the pier in the 9th year of Genroku (1696). [This document was found in May 2005 at Oki island. It was a part of the record of the investigation of Ahn Yong-bok in Oki island.]
The man who was called Ahn Yong-bok said that Takeshima is called Take-no-shima (island of bamboo). And he said that there is an island called Ulleungdo which is Take-no-shima in the 東莱府 of Gangwon province in Chosun. He also said that it was drawn in the map of eight provinces (八道ノ図).
He said that there is an island called Usan in the same province and that this
island is called as Matsushima, and that it was also drawn in the map of eight
They left Takeshima on 15th May,
reached Matsushima on the same day, departed Matsushima on 16th and
reached Nishimura-iso in the
in the morning of 18th. islandof Oki
He said that the distance between Takeshima and
Chosun is 30-ri and the distance between Takeshima and Matsushima is 50-ri.
Notice: This document shows that Ahn really believed that Matsushima was Usando. But there are inconsistencies in this document too.
(1) If Usando was Matsushima (Liancourt rocks), he sailed from Ulleungdo and got to Liancourt rocks on the same day while he needed two days from Liancourt rocks to Oki island. But they couldn’t reach Liancourt rocks from Ulleungdo on the same day in those days, it usually took one day. If he reached “Matsushima” on the same day and needed 2 days from “Matsushima” to Oki island, that “Matsushima” should be a near island to Ulleungdo, not Liancourt rocks.
(2) And as to the distance, the distance from Ulleungdo to Korean mainland (115km) is greater than the distance from Ulleungdo to Liancourt rocks (92km) which is 23-ri. His estimate of the distance between Ulleungdo and Liancourt rocks is more than twice, it’s almost the distance between Ullengdo and Oki island.
(3) As for the map of eight provinces (八道ノ図), it was actually only a list written by a Japanese official, not a map. And the Japanese writing written under Gangwondo reads “此道ノ中ニ竹島松島有之 (Takeshima and Matsushima locate in the route to this area)”, it doesn’t say that these two islands belong to Gangwondo of Chosun.