An Yong-bok's "Usando" (于山島) probably "Ika-shima" (いか嶋)

On March 26, 1692, Japanese fishermen sailing from Japan's Oki Island arrived at Ulleungdo's Ika-shima (いか嶋), which according to the 1724 Japanese map above was most probably Ulleungdo's neighboring island of Jukdo (竹島 - 죽도). When the Japanese arrived, they were surprised to find that someone had already harvested most of abalone on the island. The next day the Japanese sailed to a place on Ulleungdo called Hamada-ura (浜田浦), which the above map shows was probably present-day Jeodong. There they found two boats. One boat was anchored and the other was floating offshore. They also saw about thirty Koreans.

Passing about 8 to 9 ken (間) in front of the boat offshore, the Japanese sailed to a place called Osaka-ura (大坂浦), where they found two Koreans left on shore. The Japanese took the two men on board and asked them what country they were from. One of the men, who was an interpreter, said they had come from a village in Joseon called "Kawaten" (かわてんかわく).

The Japanese told the Koreans that they came to the island each year with the permission of the Shogunate and asked the Koreans why they had come there. The Koreans replied that there was an island to the north to which they go to harvest abalone about once every three years. The Koreans said that eleven fishing boats set sail on February 21, but that five met with diaster and fifty-three people drifted to this island (Ulleungdo) on March 23. They said that when they arrived on the island they found abalone, so have been staying there. The Japanese then asked the Koreans why they had not already left. The Koreans said that their boats were damaged, so they needed time to repair them.

Here is the Japanese from which my above summary was based:
三月二廿四日に隠岐国より出舟仕 同廿六日之朝、五つ時に竹嶋之内いか嶋と申所へ着舟仕 様子見申候 得者鮑大分取上け申様に 相見へ不審に奉存
同廿七日之朝 浜田浦へ参申内に 唐船弐艘相見へ申候 内壱艘はすへ舟壱艘ハうき舟にて居申候 唐人三拾人斗見へ申候 其内弐人残し置 残り之者とも右之うき舟に乗り 此方之船より八九間程沖を通り 大阪浦と申所へ廻り申候 右之弐人残り申 内壱人は通しニテ 弐人共ニともども船に乗り 此方之舟へ参申候故乗せ申候 
而何国之者と相尋申候へ ちやうせんかわてん国村之者と申候故 此嶋之儀公方様より拝領仕 毎年渡海いたし候 嶋にて候所に 何とて参候やと尋候へは
此嶋より北に当り嶋有之三年に一度宛国主之用にて 鮑取に参候国元は二月廿一日に類舟十一艘出舟いたし 難風に逢五艘に以上五拾三人乗し此嶋へ三月廿三日に漂着、
此嶋之様子見申候へは 鮑有之候間 致逗留 鮑取上けしと申候左候は丶此嶋を早々に罷立候様にと申候へ 共舟も少損じ候故 造作仕調次第に出舟可仕候間 私共船をすへ候様にと申に付 岡へ上り兼て拵置候 
諸道具改見申へは舟八艘 其外諸道具見へ不申候付 通辞へ此由尋候へは 浦々へ廻し遣し候と申候
先此方之舟すへ候へと申候へ共唐人は大勢此方は纔に 弐十一人にて御座候に付 無心元奉存、
竹嶋より三月廿七日之七つ時分より 出舟仕申候然共何にても印無之御座候では如何と奉存 唐人の拵置候 串鮑少々笠壱つ網頭巾壱つかうじ壱つ取致出舟
村川市兵衛舟頭 平兵衛  
同  黒兵衛
I find the above story quite interesting because it tells us the following:
  1. The first place the Japanese stopped when they arrived at Ulleungdo was Ulleungdo's neighboring island of Jukdo, which they referred to as Ika-shima (いか嶋). Stopping at Jukdo first suggests that they considered the island to be important.
  2. Japanese maps show Ika-shima (いか嶋) or Iga-shima (イガ嶋) as Ulleungdo's neighboring island of Jukdo.
  3. The Japanese said that most of the abalone on Ika-shima had been caught, which tells us that the Japanese would go to Ika-shima to harvest abalone.
  4. The Korean interpreter also referred to an island to the north of Ulleungdo where Koreans would also go to harvest abalone. Since Ulleungdo's neighboring island of Jukdo is off the northeast shore of Ulleungdo, the island to which Koreans went to harvest abalone was most probably Jukdo since there are no other islands north of Ulleungdo, except for Gwaneumdo, which is only about 100 meters offshore.
It appears that the abalone of Ulleungdo's neighboring island of Jukdo was popular with both Koreans and Japanese. In fact, there is a passage in an 1881 Japanese report (竹島考證 上) that referred to the above incident as follows:
此島ノ以北三里許ニ亦タ一島アリテ上好ノ鮑最多シ 因リテ朝鮮ヨリ三五年ニ一回漁人ヲ遣ハシテ鮑ヲ取ラシム 彼曽テ此竹島ヲ知ラサリシニ我元禄五年ノ春此島ニ漂流メ始テ竹島アルコトヲ知ルナリ
About three ri north of this island [Ulleungdo] was another island where there were a lot of excellent quality abalone. Therefore, every three or five years, fishermen from Joseon were sent there to harvest the abalone. That country did not know about Takeshima (Ulleungdo) before then. It is said that in the spring of 1692, people drifted to the island and learned about Takeshima for the first time.
The above passage gives us more information about the island to the north of Ulleungdo since we learn that it was three ri to the north. Since it was the Korean fishermen who must have given that information to the Japanese, it is possible that it could have been three Korean ri, which would be about 1.2 kilometers. Again, that would suggest that the island to the north was Ulleungdo's neighboring island of Jukdo.

According to Japan's "竹島紀事," when questioned by the Lord of Tsushima in 1693, An Yong-bok said the following:

この度參候島より北東に当たり大きなる嶋これあり候. かの地逗留の內, ようやく二度, これを見申し候. 彼島を存じたるもの申し候は. 于山島と申し候通り申し開き候. 終に參りたる事はこれ無く候. 大方路法一日路これ有るべく候.
Northeast of the island to which I travelled [Ulleungdo], there is a large island. While I was there [on Ulleungdo], I saw the island only twice. According to someone who knew that island, it was called "Usando." That's just what I heard. I have never been there. It is about a day away by rowboat.
Notice that An Yong-bok also mentioned that there was an island northeast of Ulleungdo that he heard was called "Usando" (于山島). He said he had never been to the island, but that he guessed it to be about a day away.

We know from the above testimony that An Yong-bok believed Usando to be a large island northeast of Ulleungdo that he had never been to, but that he could see from Ulleungdo. The only island visible northeast of Ulleungdo is Ulleungdo's neighboring island of Jukdo, which is two kilometers off Ulleungdo's northeast shore.
Also, since An Yong-bok was taken by Japanese fisherman back to Oki Island, it is very likely they would have stopped at Liancourt Rocks (Takeshima/Dokdo) on the way, where they could have rested and eaten a meal. If that were the case, then the fact that An Yong-bok said he had never been to "Usando" would mean that Usando was not Liancourt Rocks.

I think it is very possible that An Yong-bok was the interpreter that the Japanese fishermen talked to in 1692 and that An Yong-bok's "Usando" (于山島) was the abalone-rich island "about three ri to the north of Ulleungdo." In other words, I think An Yong-bok's Usando was the island that the Japanese referred to as "Ika-shima" and that Koreans today refer to as "Jukdo," which is two kilometers off Ulleungdo's northeast shore.


  1. Gerry,

    Thanks for sharing the topic.

    The story is the same as the following posting but I didn't notice that the island at "North" was the same island as Jukdo. I simply thought the Korean fishermen told a lie as an excuse.


  2. Hi Pacifist,

    I have just added to the post. I did not have time to finish it before I had to leave work this afternoon.

    Do you happen to have the Japanese passages?

  3. To follow is the sentence you wrote with the rest of the passage.

    此島ノ以北三里許ニ亦タ一島アリテ上好ノ鮑最多シ 因リテ朝鮮ヨリ三五年ニ一回漁人ヲ遣ハシテ鮑ヲ取ラシム 彼曽テ此竹島ヲ知ラサリシニ我元禄五年ノ春此島ニ漂流メ始テ竹島アルコトヲ知ルナリ

    At the north of this island, there is another island, where produces the superb abalones. So they send people from Korea every 3 or 5 years and let them catch abalones. They didn't know Takeshima before but they first knew about the island in the spring of the 5th year of Genroku of our calender when they drifted ashore.

  4. Thanks Pacifist. By the way, I found the Japanese for the other passage.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.