"The island is much bigger than we had expected. It's beautiful," said one man, who gave only his surname, Lee.
"It's a strong symbol, but I just wonder if Koreans have to always be shown portraying Dokdo as a fight to the death," Lee said. "This is just a beautiful place."
Reporters were also treated to the sight of Kim Sung-do, who along with his wife is the only civilian living permanently on the island with the financial help of the local administration.
The weathered, 68-year-old fisherman and Vietnam War veteran, often featured on national media, smoothly delivered a few choice words against Japan.
"Instead of being apologetic, Japan is becoming more and more brazen," Kim said. "This worries me. It has to stop."
Yet even officer Kim acknowledged that no Japanese ship had come anywhere near the grey, rocky outcrops in recent memory.