In spite of a discrepancy in compass direction and distance, Mr. Morsel was almost certainly describing Ulleungdo's neighboring island of Jukdo (竹島 - 죽도), which is about one and quarter miles off Ulleungdo's northeast shore.
WOLUNG DOWOL-UNG-DO or Matsusima as it is called by the Japanese, is an island off the east coast of Korea, 37° 48' north latitude and 130° 17' east longitude. It is about 190 miles from Fusan, 170 from Wonsan and 63 miles direct from the coast. 1 think this will be found more correct than the position given by the charts in common use, with the exception of those surveys made by the Japanese and Russians.
Explorers of those waters first named the island Dagelet. Some navigators gave it the position of another island and called it Argonaut and so named it on the charts. About 50 years ago, careful surveys were made by Russian, English and French navigators and it was then found that the island Argonaut had no existence, only Dagelet. There is no doubt the sailors who first located Argonaut, after leaving Dagelet got into a fog and after a day's sail, with perhaps contrary winds and currents, sighted Dagelet again and placed it cn the chart as another island.
Wol-ung-do is a gem in the sea. Notwithstanding its distance from the mainland the right of the Korean government to the island, has never been questioned by the Japanese government. The length from east to west is about ten miles, from north to south abont six and a half. Seen from the distance it looks like a dark towering rock, but on nearer approach it will bo seen to be composed of a collection of conical hills, with a peak 3000 feet high rising from the center and having the appearance of being supported by the smaller ones. The shore is steep and rugged; on all sides the water is very deep. A number of detached rocks, some having a height of 300 feet, are found near by. On the south east is an islet, called "Wo-san, about 500 feet high, a quarter of a mile from the main island with a deep passage between the two.
Unless examined closely, a landing seems impossible, but between Wo-san and the point projecting from the main land, there is a small beach and here close to the shore a vessel can find anchorage in from 16 to 25 fathoms, but even this harbor is available only in fine weather.
The inland is not inhabited, at least not permanently. In the spring Koreans visit it and remain until autumn and occupy their time building junks which are taken to the coast and sold. The island is not cultivated further than what is required to sustain the junk builders during their stay. There is good, fresh, cool water on the island.
W'ol-ung-do, whatever the Korean meaning may be. is an emerald gem of many shades. The whole island is rich in vegetation, wild flowers abound while among the trees are found the cedar, pine, teak, camphor and fir. The first three mentioned are not only numerous, but some of them are very large. Pine and teak from three to four feet in diameter can be found while the grain of the teak when sawed presents beautiful patterns. The camphor tree is not so plentiful, as most of the trees of this species have been pilfered. It is well worth the while of the owners of this beautiful spot to take good care of it and to guard its riches, for the island from its outer appearance is not alone a gem, but it is a real gem from the standpoint of the mineralogist, but where the door is open every one thinks he has a right to enter.
The rocks are of granite formation with veins of quartz and and gneiss. Gold, cinnabar, Dragon's blood or red sulphur of mereury are among the minerals found in the island. I believe others will yet be found, and it is for this, more than for its valuable trees that I call it a gem in the sea.
Japanese junks at times visited the island, camphor and teak are cut in convenient lengths, loaded and taken to the Kobe and O-aka market.
In 1884 a British subject, a friend of mine, obtained permission from the Korean government to cut timber on this island. The season was late and the emeute of December came on, so that he did not reach the island until the following March when he went there with fifty Japanese wood cutters. He spent four or five months felling trees, but was disturbed by a company of Japanese who likewise came armed with permission from the Korean government to cut timber. A dispute naturally arose, a lawsuit followed, which ended in wind, my friend Jen the island and the same party of Japanese made a second visit and took all the cut timber to Kobe.
F H. Morsa