Last updated
Ulleung island from above.jpg
NASA Landsat7 image of Ulleung-do (north oriented at top)
Map Ulleung-do.png
Location of Ulleung-do
Location Sea of Japan
Coordinates 37°30′04″N130°51′23″E / 37.50111°N 130.85639°E / 37.50111; 130.85639 Coordinates: 37°30′04″N130°51′23″E / 37.50111°N 130.85639°E / 37.50111; 130.85639
Area72.86 [1]  km2 (28.13 sq mi)
Highest elevation984 m (3228 ft)
South Korea
County Ulleung County
Province North Gyeongsang Province
North Korea (claimed)
County Ullŭng County
Province North Kyŏngsang Province
Population9,191 (Sep 2020.)
Pop. density126/km2 (326/sq mi)
Ethnic groups Koreans
Korean name
Revised Romanization Ulleungdo
McCune–Reischauer Ullŭngdo

Ulleungdo (also spelled Ulreungdo; Hangul: 울릉도, IPA:  [ulːɯŋdo] ) is a South Korean island 120 km (75 mi) east of the Korean Peninsula in the Sea of Japan, formerly known as the Dagelet Island or Argonaut Island in Europe. [2] [3] Volcanic in origin, the rocky steep-sided island is the top of a large stratovolcano which rises from the seafloor, reaching a maximum elevation of 984 metres (3,228 ft) at Seonginbong Peak. The island is 9.5 kilometres (5.9 mi) in length and 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) in width; it has an area of 72.86 km2 (28.13 sq mi). [1] It has a population of 10,426 inhabitants. [4]


The island makes up the main part of Ulleung County, North Gyeongsang Province, South Korea and is a popular tourist destination. The main city of Ulleung-do is the port of Dodong (도동;道洞), which serves as the main ferry port between Ulleung-do and the South Korean mainland. After tourism, the main economic activity is fishing, including its well-known harvest of squid, which can be seen drying in the sun in many places.


Daehanjiji (1899) - Ulleungdo and Dokdo DaehanJeondo.jpg
Daehanjiji (1899) – Ulleungdo and Dokdo
The Japanese map of 1724 - Oki Islands (lower right), Liancourt Rocks (center), and Ulleungdo (left) Liancourt Rocks8442.jpg
The Japanese map of 1724 – Oki Islands (lower right), Liancourt Rocks (center), and Ulleungdo (left)

The island consists primarily of trachyandesite rock. A major explosive eruption about 9,350 years ago reached a Volcanic Explosivity Index of 6 and deposited tephra as far as central Honshū over 800 km (500 mi) away, while producing pyroclastic flows on the island and decapitating its top to form a caldera.

Archaeological evidence indicates that the island has been inhabited since the 1st millennium BC. The first confirmed historical reference to Ulleung-do is in the Samguk Sagi for the year 512. In that year, the Silla general Kim Isabu conquered the island, which had previously been the autonomous nation of Usan-guk. Some accounts relate that he used a number of wooden lions to intimidate the population, threatening to turn them loose unless they surrendered.

Usan-guk did not remain under the Silla rule, however, and the island did not become a permanent political part of Korea until 930, when it was annexed by Goryeo. Remote as it is from the Korean mainland, Ulleung-do was a recurrent security headache for the Goryeo and Joseon dynasties. It was devastated by Jurchen pirate raids in the 11th century, and by Wokou pirate raids in the 14th century. A clash with Japan over fishing rights in the 1690s was precipitated by the Korean fisherman An Yong-bok. In response to these difficulties, Joseon adopted an "empty-island" policy which however proved impossible to enforce. The empty-island policy was officially rescinded in 1881, after which the government sought to encourage additional settlement of Ulleungdo.

American whaleships cruised for right whales off the island between 1848 and 1892. [5] Some went ashore nearby Jukdo to club pinnipeds. [6]


Ulleungdo is a volcanic island that rose from the seabed between the third and fourth Cenozoic periods, and the part of the island is near the peak of the mountain. It is the summit of the longitudinal volcano, which was created by volcanic activity during the 3rd and 4th Cenozoic Era, and consists of trachyte, andesite, and basalt. Hot spot volcanic activity by the General Yi Sa-bu seamount, dissolved Simheungtaek seamount and Dokdo and Ulleung Island with An Yong-bok seamount was created as well. Dokdo is 4.6 million years ago estimated 2.5 million years ago, and the creation of Ulleungdo to us, 2.5 million years ago in 5,000 years ago.

There is Seonginbong Peak in the center of the island. In the northern part of the island is the only flat basin, the Nari Basin. The Nari Basin was formed from caldera in the crater of the volcano, which was shaped like a Cheonji or Baekrokdam, but the water was drained and the soil was covered with stones and dirt on the bottom of the lake. There are 650 species of plants, including beech, cedar, and pine trees, and 50 species of birds, including black pigeons, and 340 species of insects.


Favorite activities for tourists are hiking, fishing, and eating hoe (a Korean raw fish dish). Sightseeing boats make regular three-hour circuits about Ulleung-do, departing from the harbor at Dodong and passing by all the points of interest along the coast, including many interesting rock formations and the small neighboring island of Jukdo. Other scenic sites are Seonginbong, the highest peak on the island (984 m (3,228 ft)); Bongnae waterfall; the "natural icehouse"; and a coastal cliff from which the Liancourt Rocks can be discerned in the distance. [7] [8]


Ulleung-do has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa), though it resembles the west coast of Japan much more than Korea, since in winter rainfall is heavy if less so than in such wet cities as Kanazawa or Akita. Sunshine is also very low in the winter if again not so markedly as in the previously-mentioned Japanese cities.

Climate data for Ulleung-do, South Korea (1981–2010, extremes 1938–present)
Record high °C (°F)14.9
Average high °C (°F)4.3
Daily mean °C (°F)1.4
Average low °C (°F)−0.8
Record low °C (°F)−11.6
Average precipitation mm (inches)116.2
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)18.514.611.
Average snowy days17.913.
Average relative humidity (%)70.169.669.869.272.180.485.985.080.372.568.668.574.3
Mean monthly sunshine hours 90.4104.1167.2212.0227.3175.0150.7163.3158.7176.8130.0100.61,856.1
Percent possible sunshine 29.534.245.153.751.739.733.638.842.550.742.633.741.7
Source: Korea Meteorological Administration. Average [9] Record high [10] Record low [11] Percent sunshine and snowy days [12]


The island and surrounding water were registered as a marine protected area to secure rich biodiversity in 2014. [13]

As above mentioned, North Pacific right whales and pinnipeds were targeted by whalers and sealers in the adjacent waters. Fin whales were also commonly observed historically, and other cetaceans such as minke whales and dolphins may appear around the island. [14] [15] [16] [17]

Japanese sea lions, now extinct, once bred on the island. [18] [19]

See also

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Usan-guk, or the State of Usan, occupied Ulleung-do and the adjacent islands during the Korean Three Kingdoms period. According to the Samguk Sagi, it was conquered by the Silla general Kim Isabu in 512. He is said to have used wooden lions or tigers to intimidate the residents into surrendering. It has been written that the alias of Usan-guk is Ulleung-do. Usan-guk rarely entered into historical records, but appears to have continued a largely autonomous existence until its loss of independence to Goryeo in 930.

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Nari Basin

Nari Basin is a basin in Ulleungdo, South Korea, and is just under Seonginbong. The Nari basin is made by Seonginbong’s past volcanic activity and is a caldera. Thousands of years ago, there was a huge volcanic activity in Seonginbong and after that, the underneath part subsided and the Nari basin was formed. The Seonginbong is now an inactive volcano and these days, people live in the basin and grow crops.


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