The Dokdo Islands, which are currently administered by Seoul, are located in the Eastern Sea, according to South Korea. However, Japan refers to the islands as Takeshima and refers to their surrounding waters as the Sea of Japan.
The couple were the only permanent inhabitants of the small islands for years, although other people, such as police officers, lighthouse operators and tourists, would come and go regularly.
Bad weather could cut off the islands for weeks from the outside world, but the surrounding waters were a rich fishing area. Kim, originally from Jeju Island, worked as a "Haenyeo" – a traditional freediver – until 2017, when she stopped for health problems.
But since the death of her husband Kim Sung-do last October, the 81
Her loss has not given rise to a move.
"She said life on Dokdo is relaxing," said her son-in-law Kim Kyung-chul. "To be there, her mind is calm."
The controversial islands have long tense relations between the two historical opponents whose relationship exists between them. In the first half of the 20th century, the Occupation and settlement of the Korean Peninsula still characterized by the imperial Japanese occupation.
Japan says that South Korea illegally occupies the rocky islands that claim to have been their sovereign since the 17th century. South Korea says its claim to the islands, which are believed to host underwater gas reserves, dates back to the sixth century.
South Korea consolidated its control over the islands in the 1950s when armed guards stationed there.
The islands were recently a diplomatic hot spot when a banner in the opening ceremony showed them as part of the Korean Peninsula during the South Korean Winter Olympics.
The islands are far away from both countries, but geographically closer to the Korean mainland than Japan and a tourist destination for Koreans.
Kim lives with her daughter Kim Jin-hee in Pohang, South Korea's mainland Korea's southeast coast, until renovations to her remote island home are completed in April.
While other Koreans have expressed interest in relocating to the islands to strengthen their nation's ownership of the territory, the government indicates that no encouragement plans are foreseen to attract more people there.
"There is only one place for a household to live there (as)," a government official said.
However, as Kim's health deteriorates, her daughter and son-in-law plan to become permanent residents register isolated islands and live with the Eight Mountain Official. 19659002] Using the bus The younger Kim, who inherited her from her father, plans to sell stamps, soaps and seafood to tourists who make the four-hour ferry ride from the mainland.
But the extended family presence is more than a business opportunity.
"It is a symbol that civilians continue to live on the Dokdo Islands," Kim Jin-hee said. "We never thought to leave the Dokdo Islands."
Paula Hancocks, Brad Lendon and Joshua Berlinger of CNN contributed to this report.