Controversy over these still waters runs deep

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Controversy over these still waters runs deep

If the world stopped calling the East Sea "the Sea of Japan," would its waters be clearer, or teem with more fish?

At least for some, it's a matter of national pride. The dispute between Korea and Japan over the name of the body of water that separates the two countries has been going on for decades, and shows no signs of getting resolved any time soon.

In a recent meeting of the International Hydrographic Organization, the society decided to place the official term on hold -- meaning, internationally, it is a blank area -- until an agreement can be reached between Korea and Japan.

Making a claim for "East Sea," the War Memorial of Korea will be holding a special exhibition, imaginatively titled "Sea of Japan? No, It's the East Sea." The exhibition, which begins tomorrow, will include various artifacts from around the world, dating as far back as the 17th century.

Historic maps and rare documents from the British Library and the University of Southern California, as well as historical documents from Japan, China and Russia will also be on display. Also, this will the first time that Kyung Hee University's Hae-jeong Institute will be showing 34 Western maps from the 17th to 19th centuries.

The exhibit will also show maps and other examples from around the world of bodies of water shared by multiple countries.

Up until the early 19th century, Western maps usually used the term "East Sea," or sometimes "Corean Sea," but ever since the Japanese colonization of Korea, "Sea of Japan" has been the common usage. By putting history on display, curators wish to build the legitimacy of the term East Sea instead of the Japan Sea.

The Chosun Ilbo, Kyung Hee University and the Korea Press Foundation are sponsoring this exhibition, with additional support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and others.

The exhibition runs until Dec. 31.

by Choi Jie-ho

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