The reason that South Korea does not want to take the Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo-Takeshima) dispute to the ICJ is that it has no old maps or documents to back up any historical claim to the Rocks. There is not even one old Korean map that shows Liancourt Rocks under any name, and there are no documents to show that Koreans ever traveled to the Rocks before the Japanese started taking them there as deckhands on Japanese fishing boats in the early 1900s.
In all of Korean history, there are only two references to an island that was probably Liancourt Rocks. Both references described them as being visible to the east Ulleungdo, the closest Korean island to Liancourt Rocks. One of those references stated very clearly that the island visible to the east of Ulleungdo was "attached to Japanese territory" and the other suggested it.
On July 22, 1714, Korean official Jo Seok-myeong reported to the Korean King Sukjong that Korea's east coast defenses were in need of repair. The official believed that Korea must not only be ready for any future Japanese invasion by way of the Japanese island of Tsushima, but also by way of the Korean island of Ulleungdo.
In the following translation of that 1714 entry, notice the sentence that says, "Visible to the east of Ulleung is an island attached to Japanese territory." The island that Koreans recognized as being Japanese territory was almost certainly Liancourt Rocks since there are no other islands visible to the east of Ulleungdo, except for Ulleungdo's neighboring island of Jukdo (once called "Usando"), which is only 2km off Ulleungdo's east shore.
Gangwon Provincial emissary Jo Seok-myeong discussed the neglected coastal defenses in the Yeongdong region. Here is a summary: "I listened carefully to the people in the ports who said, 'Pyeonghae and Uljin are closest to Ulleungdo, and there are no obstructions along the sea route. Visible to the east of Ulleung is an island attached to Japanese territory.' In 1708 and 1712, strange-looking ships drifted to the borders of Goseong and Ganseong, so we know that Japanese ships frequently come and go. The government, however, says that the vast sea is a barrier, so there is no need to worry, but how can we be sure that a future war will not break out in the Yeongdong region instead of the Yeongnam region? We cannot allow even a little delay in taking measures to be thoroughly prepared."
4 ( +7 / -3 )