South Korea on Sunday installed a 1.2-meter-tall monument on its easternmost islets of Dokdo, with a Cabinet minister calling it a "symbol of Korean sovereignty," amid a diplomatic flare-up over Japan's territorial claims.
The stone monument is inscribed in Korean with "Dokdo" on the front and the "Republic of Korea" on the back, along with writing on the side about President Lee Myung-bak's visit to the island this year.
The side of the monument, set up in front of a building where police officers are stationed to guard the islets, is engraved in Korean with "President Lee Myung-bak, Summer of 2012."
During an unveiling ceremony on Dokdo, Public Administration and Security Minister Maeng Hyung-kyu said, "The Dokdo monument, which represents the will of people, will become a symbol of Korean sovereignty and a spirit of defending Dokdo."
The monument was set up by the provincial government of North Gyeongsang, which has Dokdo under its jurisdiction.
The unveiling ceremony had been originally set for last Wednesday, which marked the 67th anniversary of independence from the 1910-45 Japanese colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, but was delayed to Sunday because of bad weather, provincial officials said.
North Gyeongsang Gov. Kim Kwan-yong said he expects the monument to "let the entire world know that Dokdo is a Korean territory."
Relations with Japan worsened after Lee made an unprecedented visit to Dokdo on Aug. 10. Lee cited Japan's unrepentant attitude of its wartime atrocities as a reason for his visit.
Japan has asked South Korea to jointly take the issue of Dokdo to the International Court of Justice, but Seoul flatly rejected the proposal, warning it will "sternly deal with any provocation by Japan over Dokdo."
South Koreans see those claims as amounting to denying Korea's rights because the country regained independence from the Japanese colonial rule and reclaimed sovereignty over its territory, which includes Dokdo and many other islands around the Korean Peninsula.