Protect Dokdo’s name

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Protect Dokdo’s name

A crisis over the name given to Korea’s Dokdo islets was averted by a Korean-Canadian librarian.

Her name is Kim Ha-na, the head of the Korea section of the Council on East Asian Librarians in North America.

The U.S. Library of Congress informed her that it would take steps on July 10, 2008 to change thematic names for Dokdo-related documents. It planned to refer to the Dokdo islets as the Liancourt Rocks.

Kim forwarded the message by telephone and letter to the Korean Consulate General in Canada, the Korean Embassy in the United States, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Ministry of Land, Transport, and Maritime Affairs.

She also forwarded an official letter under the name of the union of Korean librarians to the U.S. Library of Congress on July 14, 2008, insisting that planned changes in thematic names was unfair.

Finally, the U.S. Library of Congress postponed a meeting scheduled for July 16 on whether to change the name of its file on the islets.

However, we should not let the matter rest. We managed to postpone changes initiated by the U.S. Library of Congress thanks to Kim’s shrewd judgment and timely intervention.

But we have seen what has happened when Wikipedia, the world’s biggest online encyclopedia, adopted the name of Liancourt Rocks for Dokdo.

Japan is actively engaged in promoting itself to the global community and drawing public opinion in its favor. Japan has tried all possible means to antagonize Korea continually and put Dokdo in jeopardy, as if its ownership remained in dispute.

At the same time, Japan lobbied hard to win international support, while Korea made a great fuss about smaller issues, as for example, when lawmakers visited Dokdo and people attempted to cancel exchanges with Japan.

Now we need to be ready to act. We need to redouble our efforts to make Dokdo an inhabited island and strengthen public relations activities on an international scale.

We can gain valuable lessons from the Voluntary Agency Network of Korea, which has strived to continue to publicize Dokdo. It has facilitated exchanges with schools in Japan over the past decade and corrected the name of Dokdo in overseas Web sites.

The Korean government should learn from these civilian diplomats how to devise effective measures to protect Dokdo.
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