The following is a section of a 1696 Japanese document (元祿九丙子年朝鮮舟着岸一卷之覺書) talking about Korean fisherman An Yong-bok’s visit to Japan to complain about Japanese fishing at Ulleungdo. My translation of a Korean translation follows the document:
Thirteen ships carrying about nine, ten, eleven, twelve~thirteen, and fifteen people per ship went to Takeshima (Ulleungdo). When asked the number of people, he could not answer at all.
He said of the thirteen ships, twelve went to Takeshima (Ulleungdo) to gather brown seaweed, abalone, and to harvest bamboo. He said there was not much abalone this year.
According to An Yong-bok, “The eleven people in our boat planned to go to Houki Distict to talk with the Houki magistrate (島取 伯耆守). We got a favorable wind and came here and have been gradually trying to make our way to Houki. We left Takeshima (Ulleungdo) on May 15 and arrived at Matsushima (probably Ulleungdo’s neighboring island of Jukdo) on the same day. On the 16th, we left Matsushima and arrived on the coast of the western village (西村) of Oki’s Matsushima (隱岐松嶋) on the 18th. On the 20th, he said they entered the cove of 大久 village (大久村). He said that the beach of the western village was too rough, so they entered the cove of the central village. On the next day, the 19th, he said they left and arrived that evening at 大久 village (大久村) beach in Port Gayoi, where they tied up their boat. On the 20th, he said they went to 大久 village (大久村).
Link to document and the rest of An’s testimony
Notice that An Yong-bok mentioned two Matsushimas (松島). The first Matsushima was close enough to Ulleungdo that An and his party got there in less than one day. However, it took Ah and his party two days and two nights to get to the other Matsushima, which he referred to as “Oki’s Matsushima.”
I cannot read that chicken scratch on the Japanese document, so could someone please confirm for me that it does say “Oki’s Matsushima (隱岐松嶋)”?
Anyway, now let’s compare the above story with the one An Yong-bok told Korean authorities:
An Yong-bok, a resident of Dongrae in Gyeongsang Province, went to Ulsan to visit his sick mother. There he met the monk Noi-hyeon and others, who he told about his trip to Ulleungdo, which he said was an island with an abundance of products. Noi-hyeon and his party listened to the story and decided to go to Ulleungdo with Yeonghae resident Yu Il-bu and his party.
Many Japanese ships were at the island, and the people in the party were afraid to approach them, but An Yong-bok yelled in a thundering voice, “Ulleungdo is our territory. What are you Japanese doing crossing over our border? I am going to capture you.”
At this the Japapanese answered, “We are residents of Matsushima (松島) and come here sometimes to catch fish. That is all. We were just getting ready to return.”
Then An Yong-bok said, Matsushima is Jasando (Usando), which is also our country’s land. How can you be living there?”
The next morning they got in their boat and sailed to Jasando, where they found Japanese boiling fish in a big pot. An Yong-bok hit the pot with a stick and broke it and yelled at them in a loud voice. The Japanese gathered their pots together loaded them on their boat and ran away. Then An Yong-bok and his party got in their boat and chased after them, but they met a wind and drifted to Oki Island. The head of Oki Island came and asked why they had come there.
[An said] said, “Last year when I came here, there is a letter written by the Gwanbaek (觀白 – an aide to the shogun) saying that both Ulleungdo and Jasando are Joseon territory. But the promise has not been completely kept. Why are you now again trespassing? Please relay this to Houki.”
The head of Oki Island said he comunicated this to Houki, but even after a long time there was no answer. He got angry, got on his boat, and headed to Houki.
Notice that the two stories do not match up. For example, in the story he told the Japanese he did not mention anything about a confrontation with Japanese fisherman on Matsushima. Also, in the story he told the Japanese, he said he left Matsushima the following morning after his arrival, but in his story to Korean officials, he said he chased after the Japanese immediately.
I think the story he told the Japanese was the real story for a few reasons. First, why would An and his party give the Japanese time to gather their things together and load them on their boat before chasing after them? That does not make sense. Wouldn’t it have been easier to just grab them while they had the chance? Also, the story about drifting to Oki after pursuing the Japanese fisherman sounds very fishy. An Yong-bok had obviously planned to sail to Japan before leaving Korea since he had prepared the clothing and other articles needed to fake his being a Joseon government official. And is it just a coincidence that An landed on “Oki’s Matsushima,” which is the name of the island he say the Japanese fisherman said they were from? I think An made up the story about the Japanese fishermen and his drifting to Japan to keep from getting in trouble with Korean authorities.
In the same interview with the Japanese officials, Ah said that Ulleungdo was thirty ri (120 kilometers) from the Korean mainland and fifty ri (200 kilometers) from Matsushima. Since the Korean mainland is actually about 140 ri from Ulleungdo and Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo) is only 92 ri, the Matsushima An was referring to was obviously not “Dokdo.” Therefore, I think the Matsushima he was referring to was “Oki’s Matsushima,” which is number 8 on the following map:
Can anyone give me some information on Oki’s Matsushima? For example, could someone tell me the size of the island? I am wondering if it is about one-third the size of Ulleungdo, which would match up with other statements. Also, could someone give me the Japanese names for some of the placenames mentioned above, specifically 大久村?
Update: There appears to have been a mistyping in the Korean translation of the Japanese document. Instead of “Oki’s Matsushima” (隱岐松嶋), the document seems to have said only “Oki Island” (隠岐島).