Two events draw fresh attention to DokdoUpdated: 2014-08-23 18:15:26 (KST)
Korea's easternmost island of Dokdo consists of two small outcroppings of rock in the East Sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan.
Since 1953, the island has been guarded by a group of volunteers from a private institution called the Dokdo Volunteer Garrison.
On Monday, a commemorative hall set to open in their honor on Ulleungdo island, which lies some 80 kilometers from Dokdo.
While it's largely uninhabited by humans, Dokdo was once home to a thriving population of sea lions.
But during Japan's colonization of Korea, Japanese fishermen hunted them for their skin and oil and by the 1950s, the sea lions, known in Korea as "gangchi," had been driven to extinction.
To raise awareness of their story, a group of orchestra members and singers gathered last week for an annual event designed to preserve the memory of the sea lions and protect Korea-controlled Dokdo island in the face of Japanese claims to it.
For the past three years, the orchestra has tried to perform on the island, but wasn't able to due to bad weather.
But this year was different.
"Two years ago, we weren't able to get on the boat to Dokdo and last year we performed out on the deck of the boat facing Dokdo. I feel like the gangchi sea lions have finally opened their hearts to us now and are now free of the pain and agony inflicted upon them in the past."
"I didn't know we could step foot on Dokdo. It feels like I've achieved everything. I hope this concert helps foreign countries realize that Dokdo is Korean territory."
"With the largest number of participants ever taking part this year, this concert continues to raise awareness about the importance of protecting Korea-controlled Dokdo island.
Connie Kim, Arirang News, Dokdo."
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