[LETTERS TO THE EDITOR]Syngman Rhee, Dokdo heroSyngman Rhee, Dokdo hero
In a poll of presidents’ popularity, Kim Dae-jung came in four points behind Park Chung Hee. Syngman Rhee is viewed in an extremely negative light, as the originator of the division of Korea. Therefore, I’d like to draw South Koreans’ attention to the importance of the Rhee Line in the disposition of claims to Dokdo.
An average of 18 Japanese boats were seized by the South Korean government during each of the years between 1952 and 1965. It was agreed by Japanese Prime Minister Sato Eisaku and Park Chung Hee on April 3, 1965, that the Rhee Line (extending, in some places, out to 200 nautical miles from Korea’s eastern shores) would be abolished and there would be a Korean fishing zone extending out to 12 miles instead ― together with a joint, restricted fishing zone beyond the 12-mile limit.
Japan agreed to provide $120 million for an improved Korean fishing fleet. An exchange document by the signatories to the normalization treaty with regard to Dokdo was handled just prior to a ceremony on June 22, 1965.
Closest to the middle of a disputed sea, the true importance of the Dokdo islets only became known because of the Rhee Line. Even Mr. Rhee’s anti-North Korean foreign policy, currently so unpopular, led to stabilization: A total of 88,000 Koreans were deported from Japan to the North after 1959, but that campaign faltered upon the signing of the normalization treaty, and ended altogether in 1967.
by Richard Thompson