With patriotic sentiments running high among Koreans against Japan amid diplomatic tension following Japan's trade restrictions, public attention is falling on an old symbol of sovereignty in the East Sea – the Dokdo islets, over which Japan also maintains a territorial claim. Located about 200 kilometres off the country's eastern coast, the Dokdo islets have become a must-see place for Koreans who visit Ulleung Island, a nearby bigger island closer to the mainland, if weather permits. The Dokdo islets, or Takeshima islands as they are called by Japan, are a tiny group of craggy islets at the centre of a diplomatic dispute between Japan and Korea that goes back more than 300 years. Against this backdrop, some Korean tour companies are presenting tour programmes which include Dokdo, which means “solitary island” in Korean. View this post on Instagram 독도 도착 꼭 다시 오고 싶었습니다 나라사랑 나를사랑 A post shared by 리지 박수아 (@luvlyzzy) on May 18, 2019 at 7:49pm PDT <!--//--><![CDATA[// ><!--\n\n\n//--><!]]> Web Tour, a Hana Tour subsidiary that specialises in Ulleung Island and Dokdo tours, is offering a free day tour to Dokdo to those who book a three-day tour on Ulleung Island during August. Before, the option cost an extra 58,000 won (US$48). Will Seoul court order arrest of K-pop star Seungri? Kang Su-jung, a marketing officer at Web Tour, says more Koreans are seeking out the islets compared to previous years. “The special tour package is timed for the upcoming Liberation Day (August 15) and to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Korea's Provisional Government against the Japanese colonial government,” Kang said in a phone interview. “We hope many people will take this chance to visit our Dokdo.” View this post on Instagram I MADE IT TO DOKDO! It’s a 4 hour round trip ferry ride in rough waters and the ferries are often cancelled due to bad conditions. The island is heavily controlled by the military so you are not free to roam at all. You’re basically allowed to stand on the island for 10 minutes to take pictures before taking the long ferry ride back to Ulleungdo. Originally, I was unsure if I wanted to go because it seemed like a lot of time and money for just 10 minutes of taking selfies but I’m so glad I did it! It’s a very special trip for Korean people to make and watching how excited everybody was also made me excited! When I tell Korean people that I went to Dokdo, they often joke that I’m officially Korean now . . . . . #dokdo #ulleungdo #korea #travelkorea #discoverkorea #adventuresinkorea #explorekorea #ig_korea #mykorea #lifeinkorea #expatinkorea #expatlife #expat #travel #travelgram #instatravel #wanderlust #traveltheworld #ilovekorea #여행 #독도 #울릉도 A post shared by Callie Anderson (@calliefornia321) on Mar 26, 2019 at 10:36pm PDT <!--//--><![CDATA[// ><!--\n\n\n//--><!]]> Some of the increase in visitor numbers is fuelled by the completion of a new coastal motorway on Ulleung Island last December, Kang added. JH Ferry, which runs boat rides among Hupo Port in Uljin, Ulleung Island and Dokdo, also announced this week that it would provide a free Dokdo tour to those who sign up for an all-inclusive three-day package in Ulleung. Korean YouTube star Boram, 6, buys an US$8 million property The demographic of visitors to Dokdo has widened in the recent surge, according to Web Tour's Kang. “Before, most of the visitors to Dokdo were people in their 50s and 60s. Now we get a lot of families with young children coming for (historical and geopolitical) educational purposes, as well as groups of university students,” she said. View this post on Instagram 울릉도 2일차. 봉래폭포-내수산전망대-독도 #여행 #여름 #여름휴가 #울릉도 #봉래폭포 #독도 #독도는우리땅 #trip #summertrip #vacation #ullengdo #dokdo #dokdoisland #dokdoiskoreanterritory A post shared by 해리 (@haeri_hyun) on Aug 5, 2019 at 5:34am PDT <!--//--><![CDATA[// ><!--\n\n\n//--><!]]> According to the Dokdo management office under Ulleung County, about 172,500 people visited Dokdo this year as of August 1, up 29.7 per cent from 132,900 during the same period of last year. The office said the growing number of visitors to Ulleung following the motorway completion has also boosted visits to Dokdo, as well as historic factors such as the 100th anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement. It expects the largest number of visitors to Dokdo this year, following the growing anti-Abe sentiment after Japan's export curbs. Why Korean celebrities marry at The Shilla Seoul Besides Dokdo, many Koreans are seeking domestic destinations or Southeast Asian countries for summer holidays as they are boycotting trips to neighbouring Japan, a popular year-round destination for Koreans. Many Koreans cancelled summer holidays to Japan that were planned months in advance, paying hefty cancellation costs. Screenshots of flight refund pages or family photos taken in domestic destinations such as Jeju Island or Gangneung with Korean flag hashtags have flooded social media. Want more stories like this? Sign up here . Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter This article was originally written by Lee Suh-yoon for The Korea Times .