Inspector Jang was sent to Ulleungdo to survey the island and map it, responding to a Japanese claim that the island was named "Takeshima" (竹島) and belonged to Japan. A Korean named An Yong-bok (安龍福) and others had been found fishing on the island in 1693 by Japanese fishermen who believed the island to belong to Japan. An Yong-bok and one other was captured and taken to Japan as proof that Koreans were illegally fishing on the island. Mr. An was returned to Korean by way of the Japanese island of Tsushima, upon which the Japanese asked Korea to make sure that Koreans no longer encroached on their territory, "Takeshima."
Koreans believed Japan's Takeshima was their Ulleungdo and sent Inspector Jang Han-sang to confirm it. In his report, translated below, Inspection Jang mentioned seeing an small island 5 ri (2 km) off the east shore of Ulleungdo that had "haejang bamboo" (海長竹田) growing thickly on it. (See this 1711 Inspector's Map of Ulleungdo, shows an island off Ulleungdo's east shore that is labeled "the so-called Usando, groves of haejang bamboo" (所謂 于山島 - 海長竹田). The small island was almost certainly Ulleungdo's neighboring island of Jukdo (竹島), which is two kilometers off Ulleungdo's east shore and has haejang bamboo growing on it.
Inspector Jang also reported looking toward the east and seeing an unnamed, distance island to the east-southeast that he judged to be about 300 ri (120 km) away and only about 1/3 the size of Ulleungdo. The distant island he saw was almost certainly Liancourt Rocks, which is about 90 kilometers to the southeast of Ulleungdo. In the conclusion of this report, Inspector Jang said he had looked toward Japanese territory (toward the east) and had seen no islands of significance ("no eye-pulling islands), which suggested he not only considered an island only 1/3 the size of Ulleungdo to be insignificant, but also that he believed it to be part of Japanese territory.
In September 1694, Jang Han-sang, the Samcheok Commander in Gangwon Province, reported by horse messenger that Ulleungdo had been inspected. At sometime between 9:00 and 11:00 AM on September 19th, ships set sail from Samcheok-bu’s wind-waiting place (待風所) at Jang-o-ri Landing (荘五里津) in Nam-myeon. According to an earlier horse messenger report, Military Official Yu Jae-gwa (有在果) and Translator An Shin-mi (別遣譯官安慎微) led 150 laborers, oarsmen and soldiers totaling 150 men in two ships and four water-supply boats. The men were allocated according to the size of each ship. They decided to set sail when westerly winds picked up at the time mentioned above.
With this plan they departed between 7:00 and 9:00 PM but when they met with huge waves and thus had no option but to sail into the wave crests that were about five ri away. But the boats slammed into the waves and broke formation and then were not to be seen. Between 11:00 PM and 1:00 AM on the 20th of September, they gradually entered the deep ocean. Black clouds rolled in from the North making the sky overcast with lightning. Shadows were cast across the waves. Suddenly it poured rain in buckets and the winds blew fiercely. Violent waves towered toward the sky and it was as if the clouds and sea became mixed together as one. The boats were repeatedly swallowed by the waves only to surface again. The danger was beyond comprehension. The people on the boats were petrified with fear and being thrown about. To make matters worse, the helm was damaged and thus the boat couldn't be controlled.
We barely managed to keep the boat from capsizing by putting the oars to the stern, port and starboard sides of the boat but we could have overturned at any time. Finally, the winds and rain subsided and the sky cleared. To the North an island (Ulleungdo) was to be seen but the ocean currents ran toward the East. The people in the boat tried to stay focused and kept the bow pointed toward the island with all their might. Between 9;00 and 11:00 AM using all of our strength we arrived at the corner of many rocks on the South side of the island (Ulleungdo) for mooring. We landed on the island (Ullengdo) for a short while and were cooking rice when the four water supply boats were sighted approaching slowly in the distance. However, the supply boats were nowhere to be seen. Between 5:00 and 7:00 PM from the southern ocean, the boats arrived and all the boats could avoid disaster. But there was no place to anchor on the southern shore, so we stayed at the entrance of a valley on the southeast on (September) 20th
to October 3rd. For the duration of our stay, it rained all the time without sunshine. There were alternating periods of heavy snow and (sleet?) About half-way up the central peak (Seong-In Bong) there was one ja (30cms?) of snow. Sailing around the shoreline of the island, (Ulleungdo) there were numerous overlapping cliffs and they were so high they seemed to soar toward the sky. Between the gaps of the rocks on the hills, run little streams from the valleys. The streams and brooks flowing from between the rocks run incessantly as if they wouldn’t cease even during times of severe drought. It took as many as two days to circumnavigate around the island (Ulleungdo) but we came to learn the circumference is only 150 to 160 ri. On the southern beach there was a bamboo grove and a field once used for farming. About 5 ri away to the East from there was an island which was not that big with a lot of haejang bamboo growing on one side.
On a day when the rain stopped and the fog lifted, we climbed Seong-In Bong (Mountain) and saw two peaks, one to the North the other to the South facing each other and towering to the sky. We then learned they are “Sambong”. Looking toward the West, we could see (Korea’s) Dae-Gwal Yeong mountain range on the horizon. Toward the East, in the middle of the ocean, an island was vaguely visible to the east-southeast (辰方). It is not quite one third the size of Ulleungdo and only 300 ri away. We traveled about 20 ri to the North and about 40 ri back down to the South and looked toward the West again still the distance looked the same. At this very location, looking straight toward the West, there were three households in the middle of a big valley and two more houses nearby. In a long valley to the southeast, were also seven houses and nineteen stone burial tombs.
Between these rocks to the southeast of where we were anchored, there was only enough space to moor about four or five boats and no place to cover our boats. Looking around we saw three grain sacks and three cooking pots not those of our (Korean) kind which are different. The rice cooking pots have neither legs nor lids but could be used for cooking and had a capacity of two mal (measurement) of rice. The grain sacks are one cheok (measurement) in diameter and about 2 cheok deep with a capacity 4 or 5 tong. The brook from the big valley to the West forms a large stream. The surroundings are open, therefore this could be the best region to moor boats. However, though the boats could avoid southeasterly winds they were still exposed to winds from the West. Even so, this place seems suitable because there was a cooking pot and some rice where we first moored our boats.
At the foot of this mountain we found a potter’s wheel which was not from our country either. On Ulleungdo Island there are layers of overlapping mountains and from halfway up to the mountain tops there is nothing but jagged rocks, and below is covered in soil. The terrain was very rough. Because the valley was deep and huge trees were blocking the sunlight it was impossible to guess how long it had been since people had visited this place. Due to the tangled vines, rotten grass and trees densely wrapped around each other, there is no possible way to for man pass through. The valley was so narrow we couldn’t go to its end. The trees growing in this place are Camellia, Thuja, Hwang-Byeok, Kalopanax, Geum-mok, Gwae-Mok, Yu-mok, Mulberry, and Maple.
Among the trees the most common one is dongjadan (a kind of sandalwood). Pine trees jikmok, hazel trees, oak trees etc., were not to be seen. As for winged animals, seagulls were the only kind and cats were the only wild animals. No other winged or wild animals were to be seen. There were no people living there and no edible fruit to be seen. As for marine animals, octopus [the author was almost certainly referring to sea lions rather than octopus] were the only kind to be found and there were tens or even hundreds of them. They had burrowed holes and lived in colonies where there are piles of rocks at the seaside. The large octopus were about the size of a pony or calf the smaller around the size of a small dog or pig. Sometimes live abalone were to be found attached to small rocks by the seashore they were small and didn’t taste well. Surrounding an inlet, boards used for boats were floating on the surface of the water here and there. Some boards had steel nails and others had wooden nails in them. Other boards were already rotten and looking closely they were made of cho-mok (wood).
This (wood) was no different from ours but it was already broken into pieces and most of it was floating below the southeastern cliff. At three locations on southeastern ridges there were the most dense bamboo fields. Here and there we noticed some locations for planting about 30 seok of crops. However, two bamboo fields of them had a lot of plants cut down. About one thousand of these bamboo trees could be seen piled up along the perimeter. Some of them had already been dried and others were still not. About 50 ri toward the bamboo field from the valley between the East and South extends a path which must have been made by bamboo carriers. In general, every mountain we reached on the island was impressive. All around cliffs soar toward the sky and between separate precipices run streams. Just one location on the West ridge has a large stream at the entrance. However, it (the stream) did not form a bay and thus made it difficult to moor because there were deposits of sand and gravel.
Amid this, the peaks soar irregularly and the valley is windy so there was not open land. But there was enough space to lay a straw mat. Around the once inhabited low-lying mountains and flat valley some stone burial tombs could be seen here and there with grave bushes growing nearby. Probably because the island stands in the middle of the three thousand ri ocean, boats could not travel at will and therefore even if that country (Japan) had taken it over forcefully, they could not have been stopped. It appears when they tried to construct an iron fort they could not have resided there anyway. Even reclaimable land was thickly crowded with trees and choked with vines. On top of that, even in September there were banks of snow and it was colder than the winter. The middle of the night came and the cold winds blew.
In one way the wind sounded like a child crying or perhaps a woman weeping. So the loud noise rang in our ears sometimes very shrilly or gently moaning in the distance. This ship’s bow that can be seen nearby looks like an ogre that is said to spread ocean poison using magic spells. Sometimes sounds similar to a shell horns, cannons or drums used to summon soldiers for border defense could be heard and then would disappear again. While circumnavigating the island, we arrived at this place when the evening came. We moored and got off the boat and walked on the sandy beach to cook rice next to a large rock. On the way, something was vaguely seen in the distance, so with An Shin Mi, we walked about three ri and found the jagged middle peak extending. All around the foot of the mountain, were overlapping rocks and cliffs and wide open area was to be seen in the distance. Looking in that direction, along the way, a path led toward a stone cave halfway up the mountain. With An Shin Mi.
We discussed if there were poisonous creatures which could harm us in that cave and if we should moor the boat somewhere else. After 11:00 P.M. and 1:00 A.M. it started pouring rain and there were unyielding waves. Lightning stuck the mountain reached echoed with thunder the ocean seemed churned violently and then after a while was totally calm. Fog rolled in around the island (Ulleungdo) the red sky disappeared and from the distance the stirring noise of people came from the stone cave. While shouting and looking toward the cave from the bow of the boat, a bright lamplight was seen. The next day, after eating a meal, we moored somewhere else to look into the peculiar place (cave) we saw the night before. Then we told Officer Bak Chung Jeong to take about 20 soldiers and look into the place. They were in the cave for some time and had still come out, so we became concerned that there might be a trap. So we called to make everyone come out and Bak Chung Jeong walked out in front. About 30 paces inside the cave lies a wide opening and in that place were four levels of eaves.
There were about ten rooms of stone levels that are smooth with jade ornaments the last room is decorated with many different colours. Looking at its decoration, it’s quite different from the manner and shape in which can be commonly seen in our country. Nothing else was to been seen, getting closer under the eaves, a smell like sulfur or rotting meat burned the nose therefore it was said we couldn’t go further. Another official took about 60 soldiers and they walked inside themselves and confirmed what Bak Chung Jeong said. At the top of the dwelling vines wrapped around and amid the inside of the tiered was very calm and clean even dust was not to be found. Thus, it didn’t appear to be a place where people lived.
Although I knew I should enter this place, to clear any doubts I still didn’t dare get close under the tiers. On the day coming back on the boat, from Chung Bong (Seong In Mountain) Mountain, clouds and fog were gradually pushed away toward the ocean. Some mysterious object as big as a hill (or mountain name) surfaced and submerged several times and then vanished. In the mountain winds howled and rain poured. The mountain was shaken as if it were about to crumble by a sound unlike thunder. With regard to what features Ulleungdo has apart from other islands. Bamboo fields are everywhere, there are four thousand of these places that are similar to the one mentioned above. Small ones (fields) had about 20 Seok Rak Ji (unit of measurement) and large ones with about 30 Seok Rak Ji. All of them had a source that could provide the fields with water. Of the trees, Red Sandalwood could be used as gwanal but they are all located between rocks on the mountainside.
Judging from this place still intact, once resided by ancient people, it appears it became vacant only about 100 years ago. There is an entrance to the valley, at the stream and upon looking for a strategy to drive away the enemy, this could be a place where one person could defeat a hundred men. Their boats (Japanese) can’t be grouped together for an extended time. Also if there are any strong winds or waves, even maintaining the boats would be difficult. Climbing on top of the (Ulleungdo’s Seong In Mountain) mountain and looking closely toward their (Japan’s) country, it is dark and distant, and there were no islands of significance; thus, the distance to their country (Japan) cannot be determined. The topography of the island (Ulleungdo) is like a rice cooking pot placed between us (Korea) and them (Japan) and the paths for carrying bamboo were probably made by their people (Japanese), I suppose. So I report this promptly, (names and date follow).