Go to contents

Dokdo Patrol Alert as Tensions Rise

Posted July. 03, 2006 03:28,   


Although the Japanese patrol boat was on their territorial waters, a police superintendent Jeong Seok-jun (54), captain of the Sambong, spoke into the microphone. It was for a simulated drill in case the Japanese invaded the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of Korea.

“The patrol boat has appeared. All units, standby.”

Following the orders of Jeong, a pilot boarded a chopper. After getting equipped with rifles and machine guns, the crewmembers were arranged in position, getting prepared for a red-alert situation in about five minutes.

Twenty minutes later, as Jeong declared that the situation was over, the crew disarmed themselves promptly in a perfect order and returned to their tasks.

“As Japanese patrol boats started going through their missions,” said Senior policeman Kim Seong-min (31), “we conduct simulated trainings two or three times a day in accordance. If a patrol boat attempts to cross the EEZ, we will do whatever it takes to block it. All of the crew members are determined to defend the East Sea.”

Carrying out its mission to guard Dokdo, the esternmost islets of Korea on which Japan put a territorial claim, the Sambong has been recently following emergency procedures after Seoul decided to send a 2,500-ton ship affiliated with the National Oceanographic Research Institute, “The Haeyang-2000,” to the waters nearby Dokdo to conduct a survey on sea currents between July 3-17.

Since Japan announced that they would send patrol boats to prevent research and counteract with similar marine research, it is very likely that another conflict comparable to the one that occurred last April will surface again.

In order to defend the EEZ from a possible incursion by a patrol boat, the Korea Coast Guard has carried out a “drill for blocking Japanese patrol ships and protecting Dokdo” last month on the waters around Dokdo. About 10 guardships, a patrol plane named the Challenger, and a helicopter participated in the training. Another massive maritime drill is scheduled on July 5.

The KCG decided to escort the Haeyang-2000 from its departure from Busan on July 3 until it completes surveying sea currents as planned. Once Haeyang-2000 approaches Dokdo, escorting guardships will be increased and patrol planes and choppers will stay close for its safety.

Aboard another guardship, the Hangang-8, on the same mission as the Sambong, captain Kim Geun-sik (51, Senior Inspector) said, “Japan’s insistence that meddles in a legitimate current research in our sea area is groundless. As we are trained enough, we’re confident we can handle whatever situation we might encounter.”

In addition, during the negotiation with Japan held in May to settle the EEZ boundary, the Korean government suggested the line between Dokdo and Oki Islands, while Japan insisted on the line between Dokdo and Ulleungdo. The two countries will resume negotiations in September.

Kum-Chun Hwang kchwang@donga.com