중앙데일리

Dokdo debate exploding on Web

Other media also involved in dispute with Japan

July 18,2008
Sixth graders at Sinam Elementary School in Seoul draw posters in a class on the Dokdo islets to counter Japan’s claim to the rocky outcrops in the sea between the two neighboring countries. By Kang Jung-hyun

The territorial feud between South Korea and Japan over the Dokdo islets is developing into a war of words on the Internet and other media.

A growing number of Koreans are set to press major Web sites around the world to state that the rocky islets on the East Sea are Korean territory.

They are even raising funds to run advertisements in influential newspapers overseas to promote their cause.

VANK, a civic group with more than 15,000 members here and abroad, has been working hard to correct and promote historical facts about Korea on the Internet, textbooks in foreign countries and other publications and media.

A screen capture on Wikipedia: “Liancourt Rocks” comes up when Web users search Dokdo. [YONHAP]
Established in 1999, VANK has been playing a key role in promoting the view that the sea between Korea’s east coast and Japan is properly named the East Sea, not the Sea of Japan, as named in many foreign publications, textbooks and Web sites.

“We are monitoring well-known Web sites like Wikipedia.com, CIA World Factbook, Encyclopedia.com and other Web dictionary sites, and our members living overseas also let us know if there is anything to be corrected in publications or school textbooks in foreign countries,” said Lim Hyeon-suk, a researcher for VANK.

Currently the group is monitoring hundreds of Web sites of foreign universities, international organizations, media outlets, Internet search engines, Web portals, government bodies, intelligence agencies, research centers and even airline companies. Major monitoring targets include official Web sites of the United Nations, foreign ministries of each country, the U.S. Library of Congress, Yahoo and even ESPN and TV Guide.

Lim expressed concern over the changing landscape of the Internet that increasingly raises questions on sovereignty over Dokdo. Lim said one such indication is the use of Liancourt Rocks, a name to identify Dokdo from the name of the French whaling ship whose crew were the first Europeans to chart the islets in 1849.

“When we Googled ‘Liancourt Rocks’ in 2005, only 25,000 results came up, but now more than 41,000 results pop up, and the number of Web pages that state Dokdo and Takeshima together increased from some 2,000 in 2005 to more than 81,000 as of now,” Lim said.

“More and more people on the Web have questions on territorial sovereignty over Dokdo … and we see that Japan has worked really hard to stir up the debate.”

Lim said VANK also plans to create a handbook that explains facts and Korea’s views on territorial disputes on Dokdo and the East Sea in foreign languages, including Japanese, and to distribute the copies overseas.

Kim Ha-na, a 32-year-old Korean studies librarian at the University of Toronto, recently issued an official complaint to the U.S. Library of Congress when she learned that Dokdo may lose its original name listed in the library’s subject headings.

Kim, also the chair of the Committee on Korean Materials under the Council of East Asian Libraries, immediately informed the Korean government and news media, while convincing the library to postpone the decision.

The Library of Congress was scheduled to have a so-called Subject Authority Cooperative Program meeting on changing the subject headings on July 16.

“We decided to postpone the meeting until the higher authorities and the international community agree on the matter in addition to an in-depth discussion with the U.S. Board on Geographic Names,” said Barbara Tillett, the chief of the Library of Congress Cataloging Policy and Support Office, in a telephone interview with the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday.

Meanwhile, Korea’s Web users, whose online discussions often develop into real-life actions, have joined the fray.

Kim Jang-hoon, a 43-year-old Korean pop singer, surprised many South Koreans when he spent his own money to run a full-page ad in the New York Times’ July 9 edition that argued Dokdo is Korean.

“For the last 2,000 years, the body of water between Korea and Japan has been called the ‘East Sea.’ Dokdo located in the East Sea is a part of Korean territory. The Japanese government must acknowledge this fact,” said the ad, under the headline “Do you know?”

“Moreover, Korea and Japan must pass down an accurate history to the next generation and cooperate with each other,” it said.

The ad instantly drew not only cheers and words of encouragement from many South Koreans but also some death threats from angry Japanese, said Kim, an honorary member of VANK.

As it turned out, Kim’s action could not be more timely. Less than a week after his ad, the Japanese government disclosed new social studies teaching guidelines for middle schools. The guidelines advise teachers to “mention there are different arguments on Takeshima [the name Japan calls Dokdo] between our country and Korea,” in order to “deepen their understanding on our country’s territory.”

Previous editions of the handbook, a guideline for middle school teachers and textbook publishers, did not mention any territorial dispute over Dokdo, let alone the islets themselves.

The move, long anticipated since April, instantly reignited the decades-long feud over the rocky islets 215 kilometers (133 miles) off South Korea’s east coast and controlled by Korea except for the period when the country was under Japanese colonial rule in 1910?45.

Currently some 30 Korean police guards and several fishermen reside on the islets, which are about 250 kilometers away from Japan.

Kim is hardly alone in his crusade to promote Korea’s argument of its territorial sovereignty over Dokdo.

Users of Daum.net, Korea’s second-largest Internet portal, on July 10 started a Web fund-raising campaign to run another ad in the New York Times to promote Dokdo.

More than 10 million won ($9,874) was raised within two hours and more than 30 million won in one day of the drive.



By Jung Ha-won Staff Reporter [hawon@joongang.co.kr]



dictionary dictionary | 프린트 메일로보내기 내블로그에 저장