Women plan relay swim to Dokdo to commemorate Liberation Day

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Women plan relay swim to Dokdo to commemorate Liberation Day

Thirty-three Korean women plan to swim 210 kilometers, or 130 miles, across the East Sea (Sea of Japan) from Donghae city, Gangwon province, to the Dokdo islets as a protest.
“Joining forces, we are going to shatter Japan’s desire to take over the Dokdo islets,” said Park Seong-suk, 58, a resident of Seoul and the oldest swimmer in the group.
To commemorate the 61st anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japan, the Korea Youth Sports Association and the Korea National Sports Swimming Association will begin a four-night and five-day swimming relay sometime between Aug. 1 and Aug. 15, Korea’s Liberation Day.
The participants are not professionals but are all female amateur swimmers.
The number of participants, 33, is equal to the number of Korean leaders who signed the declaration of independence on March 1, 1919. The swimmers only consist of women to honor the spirit of the independence fighter Yu Gwan-sun, who sacrificed her life for the movement.
“The event will raise international awareness about the fact that the Dokdo islets belong to Korea,” said Heo Seong-yun, 52, the director of the Korea National Sports Swimming Association.
The organizations selected 33 swimmers and seven reserve swimmers from 237 applicants through swimming trials last month. The swimmers are aged from 21 to 58.
“I would like to help the world learn about the strength of Korean women and reiterate the fact that Dokdo is under the sovereignty of Korea as the dispute over the islets between Korea and Japan is becoming more serious,” said Ms. Park.
“During the Japanese invasion in 1592, Korean women carried stones in their skirts in Haengju Fortress to fight the Japanese army,” said Ju Gyeong-ok, 36, a swimmer from Gimhae, South Gyeongsang province. “This time we are wearing swimsuits and wrapping national flags around us instead to defend Dokdo.”
For the swimmers’ protection, they will be surrounded by a specially designed net measuring 6 meters (19 feet) wide, 12 meters long and 5 meters deep.
After they land on Dokdo, the participants plan to sing the national anthem with national flags wrapped around them. They also plan to kiss the land on the island.

by Jeon Ick-jin
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