Syngman Rhee Line

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"Peace Line" redirects here. For peace lines in Northern Ireland, see Peace lines.
Syngman Rhee Line
Hangul 이승만 라인
Hanja 李承晩 라인
Revised Romanization I Seungman Rain
McCune–Reischauer Yi Sŭngman Rain

The Syngman Rhee Line (Hangul: 이승만 라인) refers to a boundary line established by South Korean President Syngman Rhee in his "Peace Line" (평화선) declaration of January 18, 1952, which included the Dokdo/ Takeshima in Korean territory.

Rhee stated that the purpose of the line was to protect Korea's marine resources around the East Sea; therefore it banned non-Korean fishing boats from inside the territory, and the Dokdo/ Takeshima in particular.

South Korea had demanded that the MacArthur line established after World War II continue to be enforced, though on August 10, 1951, the United States sent Korean Ambassador Yang You Chan the Rusk documents, stating that the official policy of the United States was that the MacArthur line would be abolished by the Treaty of San Francisco. The treaty was signed on September 8 of the same year, about a month after the documents were sent, and was to come into effect on April 28, 1952. In response, the South Korean government declared the Syngman Rhee Line three months before this date, when the extinction of the MacArthur line and the return of sovereignty to Japan were meant to be established.

According to the Report of Van Fleet Mission to Far East made in 1954, the U.S. government maintained that the one-sided declaration of the Syngman Rhee Line was illegal under international law.

Seizure of Japanese ships by the Korea Coast Guard (December 1953)
A Japanese demonstration against the line (September 15, 1953)

The fishing boats - which were mostly Japanese - that violated the boundary line were seized by South Korea. Japanese records claim that such ships were often fired upon. The Japanese government protested the seizures and unilateral declaration strongly, but the abolition of the line had to wait even for the approval of the Japan-Korea Fishery Agreement in 1965. By the time an agreement was reached, 3929 Japanese people were arrested, of whom 44 were killed, and 328 Japanese ships were seized.[1]

At the behest of the South Korean government, in exchange for the release of Japanese fisherman detained as a result of the line, the Japanese government released 472 Koreans in Japan who had been imprisoned as criminals. Those released gained the permission of residence (they became Zainichi).

Solving the problem[edit]

Solving the problem required many years. Obstacles to its settlement included the fact that there were no formal diplomatic relations between Japan and South Korea at the time, that normalization talks were complicated by various compensation claims, and the refusal of the United States to intervene on the issue, regarding it as bilateral.


  • September 2, 1945 Japanese Government accepted the Potsdam Declaration.
  • January 29, 1946 Governmental and Administrative Separation of Certain Outlying Areas from Japan went into effect. SCAPIN#677 (Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers Instruction Note No.677)
  • June 22, 1946 Area Authorized for Japanese Fishing and Whaling. SCAPIN#1033 (MacArthur Line)
  • August 13, 1948 Republic of Korea was founded. Syngman Rhee sworn-in as first president of South Korea.
  • July 19, 1951 Korea demanded that the MacArthur line stay in effect.[2]
  • August 10, 1951 US government refused Korean demand by the Rusk documents.
  • September 8, 1951 Treaty of Peace with Japan was signed.
  • January 18, 1952 South Korean Government declares the Syngman Rhee Line as an alternative to the MacArthur line.
  • April 28, 1952 Treaty of Peace with Japan became effective.
  • January 12, 1953 South Korea Government ordered to seize a Japanese fishing boat that went into the Syngman Rhee Line.
  • July 12, 1953 The South Korea police fired on a Patrol boat of the Japan Coast Guard.[3]
  • 1954 In the Report of Van Fleet Mission to Far East written by US special mission ambassador James Van Fleet, counseled Korea that the Syngman Rhee line was illegal.[4]
  • 1965 Japan-Korea Fishery Agreement was concluded. Syngman Rhee Line was repealed.

See also[edit]