Korea Won't Fortify Dokdo After All

Cheong Wa Dae has decided not to fortify Dokdo as long as Japan takes no more provocative steps to push its dubious claim to the islets such as dispatching its naval patrol ships near the territory. The decision comes after President Lee Myung-bak made a rare symbolic visit to the islets.

"Building a seawall or a research base on Dokdo will cause environmental damage, so the Cultural Heritage Administration will not approve them," a high-ranking Cheong Wa Dae official told the Chosun Ilbo on Sunday.

President Lee Myung-bak looks at monument in the shape of the Korean flag in Dokdo during his visit to the islets last Friday. President Lee Myung-bak looks at monument in the shape of the Korean flag in Dokdo during his visit to the islets last Friday.

The government and North Gyeongsang Province had been pursuing construction of the seawall and research base on the easternmost islets but have been unable to make progress given the environmental implications. Doko has been designated as a national preservation site, so the CHA must approve any development projects.

"Dokdo is just one of some 3,000 islands that are in our territory," a high-ranking government official said. "There is no need to bolster administrative control over Dokdo."

The government is also giving up on bolstering defenses on the islets. "Japan is an important ally, and Dokdo and Korea-Japan cooperation are separate issues," the high-ranking Cheong Wa Dae official said.

englishnews@chosun.com / Aug. 13, 2012 09:17 KST