"Dokdo Must Have Trees to Be Internationally Legal Island"
20th Year of 'Grow Dokdo Green' Members' Tree-planting Project
Even just ten years ago, Dokdo was a lump of rock. There were patches of grass here and there, but finding a tree was difficult. However, these days flowers are blooming on camellia trees [shrubs], and Insularis honeysuckle, which is native to Ulleungdo, is also growing. The main actors in making Dokdo green are the members of the "Grow Ulleung and Dokdo Green Society," which was organized mainly by young people from Ulleungdo in 1988.
The newly elected chairman of this group is Lee Chang-gwan, a 46-year-old employee of the Pohang Tax Office who is assigned to the Ulleung branch office. On the 20th, he said, "I will do my best to ensure the the roots of the more than 400 trees currently growing are firmly grounded." He added, "The members of Grow Dokdo Green will become a new symbol of Dokdo sovereignty.
Dokdo's trees have a special meaning. According to international law, Dokdo is classified as a rock, not an island. That is because to be an island, there must be people, drinking water, and trees.
Kim Seong-do and his wife are living on the West Island and drinking water comes out of "Mulgol." Trees are the last barrier to Dokdo being a complete island internationally.
From 1988 to 1995, 150 members transported soil and more than 2,000 trees, including camellia, Insularis honeysuckle, and juniper, to the island and planted them.
Members hauled soil up and down the steep slopes of the island and planted trees, but now most have dried up and died. Only a portion of them tenaciously survive.
In 1996, the Culutral Heritage Administration banned tree-planting, saying that the natural monument must be protected.
The Insularis honeysuckle, which grows only on Ulleungdo, started at twenty centimeters, but is now two meters tall. The camellia have grown to the point where they are now flowering.
Chairman Lee, who is a third generation Ulleungdo islander, said, "As a young boy on Ulleungdo, I wanted to continue the frontier spirit of our ancestors and the strong will of the volunteers who defended the land before the police." He added, "I will ensure that 'Green Dokdo' is etched in the minds of our countrymen."