Socotra Rock

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Coordinates: 32°07′22.63″N 125°10′56.81″E / 32.1229528°N 125.1824472°E / 32.1229528; 125.1824472

Socotra Rock
Socotra Rock.png
Socotra Rock location map
Summit depth4.6m
  • Ieodo (이어도, 離於島)
  • Parangdo (파랑도, 波浪島)[1]
LocationYellow Sea
Coordinates32°07′22.63″N 125°10′56.81″E / 32.1229528°N 125.1824472°E / 32.1229528; 125.1824472
Socotra Rock
Revised RomanizationIeodo
Revised RomanizationParangdo

Socotra Rock (China:苏岩礁;Korean이어도; Hanja離於島; MRIŏdo) is a submerged rock 4.6 metres (15 ft) below sea level (at low tide) located in the Yellow Sea. International maritime law stipulates that a submerged rock outside of a nation's territorial sea (generally 12 nautical miles) cannot be claimed as territory by any nation.[2] However, the rock is the subject of a maritime dispute between South Korea and China, which consider it to lie within their respective exclusive economic zones.

The rock is located 149 kilometres (80 nmi; 93 mi) southwest of Marado (just off Jeju Island) in Korea.[3] Yushan Island of Zhejiang, China,[4] is 287 km (155 nmi; 178 mi) away from the rock. The rock serves as the foundation for Korean Ieodo Ocean Research Station.[5] A Korean helipad is also located there to allow the research station to be serviced.


In Korean, the rock itself is known as Ieodo or Parangdo. Internationally it is known as Socotra Rock, and in Chinese, it is known as Suyan Islet (simplified Chinese: 苏岩礁; traditional Chinese: 蘇巖礁; pinyin: Sūyán Jiāo), which means the "rock" (岩/巖, yán) or "reef" (礁, jiāo) outside the coastal waters of Jiangsu (苏/蘇, sū, the abbreviation).[6]


Both "Parangdo" and "Ieodo" are names for the mythical island which the residents of Jeju Island believed housed the spirits of fishermen who perished at sea. The South Korean government has asserted a direct connection between these legends and the modern-day rock, claiming that the traditional saying that "One who sees Parangdo would never return" refers to the danger facing sailors when high waves allow the rock to break the surface.[1][7] Koreans even name the studies about Ieodo as "Ieodology".[8] Socotra Rock's Korean name was officially designated as "Ieodo" on 26 January 2001, by the Korea Institute of Geology.[9]


  • 1900: Socotra Rock is discovered by the British merchant vessel Socotra.[1]
  • 1910: Socotra Rock is surveyed by the British vessel Waterwitch, which measures the depth at less than 5.4 feet (1.6 m).[7] Vice Admiral Archibald Day, however, wrote in his book The Admiralty Hydrographic Service, 1795 - 1919 that this survey was 1901 not 1910.[10]
  • 1938: The Japanese government surveys the rock. Plans are laid for a research station, but are cut short by the outbreak of World War II.[7]
  • 1951: A joint team of the Republic of Korea Navy and the Korea Mountain Climbing Association reaches the rock and lowers a bronze marker bearing the legend "Ieodo, Territory of the Republic of Korea" ("대한민국 영토 이어도") onto its surface.[7]
  • 1952: South Korea promulgates the Syngman Rhee Line, which defined the country's territorial waters as including Socotra Rock.[11] This was not recognised by the People's Republic of China or other neighbouring countries.
  • 1963: Yuejin shipwreck: The Chinese vessel Yuejin sinks on her maiden voyage en route from Qingdao to Nagoya after being struck by an underwater object. The crew of the ship claimed to have been attacked by a torpedo, causing an international affair. It was later found that due to a navigational error by the crew, the "Yuejin" had actually struck Socotra Rock which was marked on navigational charts at the time.[12] This was not recognized by the Koreas or other neighboring countries.
  • 1963 5.1-6.3,Shanghai Riverway Bureau fleet finds the shipwreck 1.5 nautical miles (2.8 km) southeast of Socotra Rock.[13]
  • 1970: South Korea's Underwater Resource Development Law was enacted, defining Socotra Rock to lie within the country's fourth mining field.[11] This move was not recognised by the PRC.
  • 1984: The rock's location is confirmed by a research team from Cheju National University.[1]
  • 1987: A warning beacon is placed on the rock by South Korea.[7]
  • 1992: Chinese Navy surveyed the Socotra Rock completely for the first time.[14]
  • 1995-2001: the Republic of Korea builds the Ieodo Ocean Research Station on Socotra Rock despite the objections from People's Republic of China. Several overflights of the area have since been made by the PRC surveillance aircraft.[15]
  • 2001: the Korea Institute of Geology officially designates the rock as "Ieodo" on 26 January 2001.[9][16]


According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, a submerged reef can not be claimed as territory by any country.[17] However, China and South Korea dispute which is entitled to claim it as part of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).[18]

In September 2006, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang (秦刚) stated that China regarded South Korea's "unilateral" activities in the region, referring to Korean scientific observatories on Socotra, to be "illegal", but that there was no "territorial dispute"; no islands were mentioned.[19] In a 2013 clarification, China stated that it had no dispute with Korea over the issue.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "파랑도". Naver Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16 September 2006.
  2. ^ "Sightings of Chinese Ships near Ieodo Island Increasing". KBS WORLD. 5 October 2012. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  3. ^ "" '이어도는 우리 땅' 임을 명확히 하겠다"‥ 영토 표지석 건립 추진" ["We will declare that 'Ieodo is Korean territory'" ─ It will promote the building of landmark stone of territory] (in Korean). 22 March 2005. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  4. ^ 海洋资源被非法掠夺 中国海洋安全面临挑战 (in Chinese). 河南商报. 26 October 2006. Retrieved 26 October 2006.
  5. ^ Guo, Rongxing (2006). Territorial disputes and resource management : a global handbook. New York: Nova Science Pub Inc. p. 226. ISBN 1-600-21445-2.
  6. ^ 中国国情·热词·苏岩礁. (in Chinese). 13 March 2012. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d e "이어도 소개 (Ieodo sogae, Introduction to Ieodo". KORDI Ieodo Research Station website (This site might have view points in dispute or original research)) (in Korean). Archived from the original on 17 July 2006. Retrieved 19 September 2006.
  8. ^ (in Chinese)张良福:《聚焦中国海疆·话说苏岩礁》, page 255, ISBN 978-7-5027-8578-9
  9. ^ a b "제주 남방의 이어도와 EEZ(배타적경제수역)포기 (Jeju nambang-ui ieodo-wa EEZ pogi, Ieodo south of Jeju and the surrender of the EEZ)". Dokdo Center website (in Korean). 5 June 2004. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 22 September 2006.
  10. ^ Day, Vice-Admiral Archibald Day (1967). The Admiralty Hydrographic Service, 1795 - 1919. London: HMSO. p. 200.
  11. ^ a b 국제법적인 고찰. Ieodo Research Station website (in Korean). Archived from the original on 6 July 2006. Retrieved 22 September 2006.
  12. ^ "1963年5月1日 我国第一艘远洋货轮"跃进号"沉没 ("Yuejin shipwreck" event)". 人民网资料 (People's Daily Online) (in Chinese). Retrieved 23 September 2006.
  13. ^ "航道工程·第四节:市外工程 (Project list)". 《上海港志》(Shanghai Harbor Records) (in Chinese). Retrieved 23 September 2006.
  14. ^ (in Chinese)沈开江:海军海洋测绘部队东海苏岩礁测量填补空白,海洋科学,1993,(第1期), ISSN 1000-3096
  15. ^ "China Chafes at Korean Observatory on Reef Island". Chosun Ilbo. 14 September 2006. Archived from the original on 2 November 2006. Retrieved 14 September 2006.
  16. ^ (in Korean) 한-중 간 이어도 분쟁에 관한 국제법적인 고찰((International)legal consideration to dispute between Republic of Korea and People's Republic of China over Socotra Rock(Ieodo))Monthly Chosun, Chosun ilbo Archived 13 April 2013 at Retrieved on 2006-09-20
  17. ^ "UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA, AGREEMENT RELATING TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF PART XI OF THE CONVENTION, PART II TERRITORIAL SEA AND CONTIGUOUS ZONE, SECTION 2. LIMITS OF THE TERRITORIAL SEA, Article13 Low-tide elevations". United Nation. 2. Where a low-tide elevation is wholly situated at a distance exceeding the breadth of the territorial sea from the mainland or an island, it has no territorial sea of its own.
  18. ^ Sang-Hun, Choe (27 November 2013). "China's Airspace Claim Inflames Ties to South Korea, Too". The New York Times.
  19. ^ (in Chinese) 中国反对韩国在苏岩礁海洋观测活动(China objects Korean Observatory on Reef Island)Phoenix TV Archived 3 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 2006-09-19.
  20. ^ "China says 'no dispute' with S. Korea over Ieodo in new air zone". Yonhap News Agency. 25 November 2013. Retrieved 28 November 2013.

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