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A South Korean widow, 81, the only resident of the disputed island



Currently governed by Seoul, the Dhok islands are located in the Eastern Sea, according to South Korea. Japan, however, calls the Takeshima Islands and refers to their waters as the Japanese Sea.

For years, the couple was only permanent residents of the smaller islands, although other people, such as policemen, headlamp operators and tourists, will come and go periodically.

Bad weather can cut off the islands from the outside world for weeks, but their surrounding waters were a rich fishing area. Kim, originally from Jeju island, has worked as a "hanio", a traditional female fader, until 2017 when bad health has led her to quit.

But after the death of her husband, Kim Sung-do, last October, the 81

-year-old is the only resident of the volcanic islands.

"She said Dico's life is relaxing," said her son-in-law, Kim Kung-chul.

Traditional Chinese characters

  Traditional Chinese characters read

The islands were a recent diplomatic flaming point when during the winter Olympic Games in South Korea, the banner at the opening ceremony presented them as part of the Korean Peninsula.

The flag changes after a Japanese protest, but the islands reappear a few months later as part of the unified Korean flag attached to the dessert served at the inter-Korean banquet dinner leading to the official Japanese protest.

While distant from both sides, the islands are geographically closer to the Korean continent than Japan and are a tourist destination for the Koreans.

Population forecast

Kim lives with his daughter Kim Jin-chi in the Pohan southeast coast of the mainland of Korea while repairs to his secluded island ended in April.

While other Koreans have expressed an interest in moving to the islands to boost ownership of their country, local authorities say they have no incentive plans

"There is only room for a household to remain (as) residents there" , said a government official.

  Kim Son-Jeol worked as