Go to contents

Korea`s westernmost island wakes up for first time in 20 years

Korea`s westernmost island wakes up for first time in 20 years

Posted January. 30, 2014 07:53,   


A 12.7-meter-high white lighthouse stands alone on top of a steep cliff that looks as if it were carved with a burin. Calm waves broke against columnar joints rearing up against the sky in the middle of the sea.

Gyeongnyeolbiyeoldo, a group of uninhabited rocky islets in the Yellow Sea, is South Korea`s westernmost island and thus called "West Sea`s (Yellow Sea) Dokdo," the country`s easternmost island.

At 9:30 p.m. on Monday, the island boasted its magnificence in front of the Haeuri 20, a coast guard patrol ship approaching the island, which departed from Taean Country, South Chungcheong Province at 8 a.m.

As the entire island consists of steep rock cliffs, no docking facility can be built. The crew could not set foot on the mystical volcano island, which are said to be formed 70 million years ago, until they changed to a 10-seat high-speed boat after anchoring the patrol ship on the waters temporarily. The slope leading to the lighthouse was dotted with droppings of wild animals. The leaves on densely growing camellia trees glittered as they reflected the sunshine.

Gyeongnyeolbiyeoldo is one of South Korea`s 23 islands used as the starting points for determining the country`s territorial waters. It is the first gate to Korean territory in the Yellow Sea that greets incoming cargo ships from China. The island is 268 kilometers away from China`s Shandong Peninsula and just 55 kilometers from Taean County, South Chungcheong Province. Just 90 kilometers to the west of the island is the Korea-China Provisional Measures Zone, which comprises of their overlapping claims sea area, where Chinese fishing boats and Korean coast guards often clash.

The Daesan Regional Maritime Affairs and Port Office under the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries plans to deploy three officers to Gyeongnyeolbiyeoldo in the second half of this year at the earliest to man the lighthouse. If so, they would become the first inhabitant on the island since 1994, when lighthouse officers were withdrawn. The dispatch is part of Seoul`s efforts to beef up its territorial sovereignty over the island.