Posted on Aug 1, 2016

Navigating the Dokdo-Takeshima Dispute: A Feature Documentary by Seoul based Filmmaker

The Dokdo/Takeshima territorial dispute between Japan and Korea has been a longstanding challenge. It has significantly shaped the bilateral relations of these two nations. In this feature documentary, titled This Island is Ours, we delve into the lives of activists from both sides. The film provides a unique and neutral perspective on their motivations and the intricacies of the conflict.

Activists on Both Sides

Meet Mr. Choi, a Korean kindergarten caretaker deeply rooted in activism, and a recently widowed Japanese housewife. Their lives revolve around a cluster of tiny islets controlled by Korea and claimed by Japan. The film was born out of a synergy between academia and filmmaking. It offers a rare insight into their parallel experiences from a neutral standpoint.

The Complexity Unveiled

As a cinematographer based in Seoul, I embarked on this journey, realizing the dispute’s depth and complexity during a protest on Takeshima Day. This revelation prompted a collaborative effort with Alexander. He has been a long time expert in international relations focusing on territorial disputes and civic activism in Northeast Asia.

Shaping the Narrative

Despite my initial perceptions shaped by a decade of living in Korea, our film, This Island is Ours, takes a neutral stance. The personal experiences captured on camera, like Japanese nationalists hurling insults at Mr. Choi, shifted my understanding. The film presents a balanced view. We acknowledge similarities between the two sides that ironically hinder any prospect of agreement or compromise.

A Cinematic Exploration

Our film stands as a pioneer, deviating from the propagandist narratives of previous works. This Island is Ours focuses on activists, avoiding bias and providing a genuine portrayal of their lives, activities, and perspectives. Living intimately within Korean and Japanese cultures, Alexander and I bring forth a narrative that delves into the political, historical, and emotional facets of the dispute.


As we navigate the intricate Dokdo-Takeshima dispute through the lens of a cinematographer in Seoul, the film offers a unique glimpse into the lives of those who remain pivotal in the conflict. Join us in transcending borders and understanding the personal stories behind this enduring dispute.

This documentary results from collaboration between Seoul based filmmaker Nils Clauss and Wellington based Alexander Bukh, a scholar of international relations of Northeast Asia.