Our forgotten land 'Gan-Do'
Do you remember ‘Gan-do’? Before 100 years ago, a vast territory of Korea, Gando, was lost to China through the Gando convention between China and Japan. Is 100 years sufficient time for people to forget Gando? Gando is just remaining through its name. It has been forgotten in people’s indifference.
In 1905, Japan robbed the diplomacy rights of the Korean Empire through the Eulsa treaty (을사조약), and they handed over Gando to China in exchange for the rights of the railways of north Manju and the rights to the coal mines. After that, in September 4, 1909, Japan confirmed the borderline between Korea and China to the boundary of Tuman River(두만강) and Ap-lok River through the Gando Convention.
1. Where is Gan-do?
Where is the specific location of Gando, which is just remaining through its name in our memory? According to the boundary monument of Mt. Baekdu(백두산정계비), Gando is located north of the Tuman River and east of the Tomun River (토문강). The location of Gando in a broad sense is the entire north Manju, including the north of Ap-lok River. As shown in the Figure, the area of Gando is larger than the entire area of the Korean Peninsula.
2. Do we have the evidence of the rights of Gando?
1) Gando Convention is invalid
The Eulsa treaty was an oppressive international treaty, which Japan signed. Therefore, the Gando Convention is invalid of course. And it is identified as international law. Even if the agreement is valid, it may take effect just between China and Japan, not Korea, which was excluded.
2) Gando was under the power of Korea.
In the 1660s, the Qing Dynasty conquered the Ming Dynasty. Therefore the Manchurians(만주인) were ethnically dominant, and they moved to region of Beijing. So, the Manju area was left empty, and Korean farmers began to cultivate earlier than the Chinese did. By the international law, an occupant will have rights to ownerless land. So Korea has significant rights of possession of Gando. Also, Joseon (Korea) administratively incorporated the south part of Gando to the province of north Pyong-an and the east part of Gando(north Gando) to the province of Ham-gyeong. These facts prove that the administrative force of Joseon was being applied equally in Gando.
3. Do we have the possibility to return Gando?
The Gando convention should have lost its effect because, by international law, the treaty was signed by Japan, the invader of Korea, not considering the intention of Korea. There is an agreement between China and Japan that all treaties before 1941 are ineffective. And also between Korea and Japan there was confirmation that every treaty before August 22, 1910, is invalid. But the Korean government didn’t raise a claim through the confused situations, like the turbulent times after the liberation of the Korean War, so the effect of the Gando Convention is continued. Scholars of international law agree that the Gando Convention could be invalidated apparently.
4. What can we do for Gando?
The most important key to recover the sovereignty of Gando is up to the Korean government. Above all the government should directly mention this problem to the Chinese government and the ineffectiveness of the Gando Convention also should be announced tothe international community. Through these efforts, the Korean government must certify the territorial disputes of the Gando area and they should be highlighted to the international community's issues.
- Also the government should interest residents of China’s Yeon-byeon Free State, who are Koreans living in China. When there are territorial disputes, the decision of local residents could act as a variable. But, the current Korean residents of China’s Yeon-byeon Free State are falling to the 40% of the entire population. It is a crisis situation because the Korean Free State can be destroyed within 10 years. Therefore, it is very urgent to prevent the collapse of Korean residents of China’s Yeon-byeon Free State, and the projects to promote national consciousness are also important. At the same time, the Korean government should penetrate the ultimate goal of China’s Northeast Project, the fixation of sovereignty of Gando. And conversely, we should insist on the sovereignty of Gando actively.
-The Korean government must modify Article 3 of the constitution, which limits the territory of Korea to the Korean peninsula and adjacent islands, to include the northern territory. And Gando should be included in the maps of textbooks and history books.
Kim So-yun, a freshman in the Division of Business Administration said, “I think the diplomatic problem with China is important, but the claim to our sovereignty of our ground is more important. As we have a strong interest in the Dokdo issue and efforts abroad, we should give the same attention to Gando. Dokdo and Gando, both are our precious land and the sovereignty of the Republic of Korea should be there proudly ever and ever.”
Currently most Korean people do not know what Gando is.
In order to regain Gando, more than anything, we should gather strength through the promotion of national interests and territorial consciousness of Gando.
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