Where Is The Korea Strait?

Fishing boats in the Korea Strait.
Fishing boats in the Korea Strait.

The Korea Strait separates South Korea and Japan. The sea passage extends northeast from the East China Sea to the Sea of Japan. Tsushima Island bisects the strait, dividing it into the Western and the Eastern Channel. The Eastern Channel is commonly known as the Tsushima Strait. The Korea Strait is bound in the north by the Korean Peninsula’s southern coast and to the south by the Japanese Islands of Honshu and Kyushu. The Korea Strait is about 120 miles wide. Its average depth is 300 feet. However, the western channel is narrower and deeper compared to the Tsushima Strait.

Tsushima Current

The Tsushima Current, which is a warm branch of the Kuroshio Current, passes through the Korea Strait. This current originates along the Japanese Islands and passes through the Sea of Japan. The current then divides along the shores of the Sakhalin Island and eventually flows into the northern Pacific Ocean through the strait north of Hokkaidō into the Sea of Okhotsk. The remainder swirls counterclockwise to flow south along the Asian mainland.

Economic Significance

The territorial claims of both Japan and South Korea in the strait have been restricted to three nautical miles from their shores. This has permitted free passage through the Korea Strait. Numerous international ships use the strait, among these, ones carrying much of the traffic destined for southern South Korea ports.

History of Korea Strait

The Korea Strait, the Yellow Sea, and the Bering Straits were often narrowed as the sea levels rose and fell under the effect of ice ages, during the Pleistocene glacial cycles. At times, the Japanese Islands might have been joined to Eurasia through the Sakhalin and the Korean Peninsula. At times, because of the absence of the warm Tsushima Current, the Sea of Japan was said to be a frozen. It is believed that during this time, various large animals and plants spread to Japan.

Embassies to Chinese dynasties, periodically sent by Japan's Yamatai to obtain the latest culture and technologies, are believed to have traveled through the Korean Peninsula and the Korea Strait. Buddhism was transmitted to Japan over this strait in the 6th century. In an attempt to invade Japan in 1274 and 1281, a joint Mongol-Korea fleet used this strait. This fleet failed to conquer Japan, though it severely ravaged Tsushima Island on its way to Japan. In 1281, the typhoon is said to have saved Japan from a Mongol invasion. After ravaging of Tsushima Island, the island became a base of Wokou, Japanese pirates. In 1914, a fleet was sent by Korea to the island to suppress the Wokou.

The Battle of Tsushima happened between the navies of Japan and Russia in May 1905. The battle happened in the Tsushima Strait. The Japanese destroyed the Russian fleet. The Battle of Korea Strait involved the navies of South Korea and North Korea. This battle happened on the first day of the Korean War, 25–26 June 1950.


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