Be clear on Dokdo

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Be clear on Dokdo

It has been revealed that the U.S. Board on Geographic Names in August last year decided to change the classification of not only the Dokdo islets but also several other disputed areas to “undesignated sovereignty.” But the board changed only Dokdo’s classification on its Web site.

The board decided not to categorize the Kuril Islands, whose ownership is disputed by Russia and Japan, as Russian territory anymore. The same is true for the Senkaku Islands, which are now controlled by Japan but also claimed by China. However, on the BGN’s Web site, these areas are still categorized as Russia’s and Japan’s territory, respectively. The U.S. double standard and decision to ignore Korea has been revealed.

As Korea raised questions about why the board erased information saying the Dokdo islets are Korean territory, the BGN explained that it sorted out its database to match the government’s 1977 policy to call the islets the Liancourt Rocks. The U.S. Department of State also said that it was not that the BGN changed its stance but that it tried to be consistent. But the recent revelation proved that these excuses were made in an attempt to calm Korea’s resistance. This is truly disappointing.

It is unclear whether the U.S. board will also post changes on sovereignty of other disputed areas. Even if it does, Koreans will still have many questions. The first is why the U.S. body acted only on the Dokdo case. If it wanted to sort out its database it would have been more efficient to handle all disputed areas at once. After doing nothing about it for 30 years, the board suddenly made this move and yet it doesn’t give any clear explanation of why.

It is an open question whether the U.S. board will change the classification of other disputed areas, such as the Kuril Islands and the Senkaku Islands, as a follow-up measure. Even if this happens, our demand will not be met as we don’t have any interest in the Kuril Islands or the Senkaku Islands. Our demand is that the Dokdo islets be clearly defined as Korean territory.

We have no intention to ask for the U.S. to side with Korea over the Dokdo issue. We just want it to have a clear and unbiased perception about the history and reality of our islets.

The United States should abandon its vague attitude, saying it is neutral when in reality, it is not. The United States should be aware that it is thoughtless to decide a matter regarding another country’s territory without any consultation with that country.

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