Wrong made rightThe U.S. government has restored the designation of Dokdo’s ownership.
The U.S. Board on Geographic Names last week suddenly changed its label on Dokdo islets to “undesignated sovereignty” and then changed it back yesterday to Korean territory. This is just a correction of a wrong, and it was the right measure to take.
It didn’t make sense to say that the Kuril Islands and the Senkaku Islands were Russian and Japanese territory, respectively, while saying that only Dokdo had no designated sovereignty.
It is good that an issue that could easily cause tension between Korea and the United States was corrected quickly thanks to President George W. Bush’s timely intervention.
The U.S. stance on the Dokdo islets hasn’t changed. The U.S. Board on Geographic Names has corrected a wrong. Koreans shouldn’t let their emotions be governed by decisions that the board takes.
The neutral stance of the United States also hasn’t changed. Washington regards the Dokdo islets as a disputed area and believes the dispute should be resolved by Korea and Japan.
In August last year, the board created the new code UU for undesignated sovereignty, and placed Dokdo in that category. This measure still remains effective.
The map on the board’s Web site still states Dokdo as “Liancourt Rocks-Takeshima.”
However, it is self-seeking for the Korean administration to talk about a diplomatic victory, referring to the change in the board’s classification of the Dokdo islets.
What happened was that shortly before his visit to Korea, President Bush showed goodwill by correcting the mistake made by the agency.
The White House might have been concerned that the Dokdo islets would become a controversial issue that overshadows Bush’s visit.
The Korean government was entirely unaware that the board used “Liancourt Rocks” as the official name for Dokdo for more than 30 years beginning 1977 and when it changed its classification to undesignated sovereignty.
The name that the board uses for Dokdo must be restored. The government must stop any attempt by the U.S. Library of Congress to change the keyword for Dokdo to Liancourt Rocks when categorizing materials and references related to the islets.
The government should not be so hasty when responding to similar diplomatic incidents.
Instead it must do its best to deal with any future issues arising over Dokdo calmly and with authority.