Dokdo Day celebrations include big defense drill

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Dokdo Day celebrations include big defense drill

As Korea commemorated Dokdo Day yesterday, the Navy, Coast Guard, Army and Air Force performed a large-scale defense drill on and around the islets in the East Sea.

The four-hour drill, which began at 8 a.m., saw the deployment of the Navy’s Underwater Demolition Team, a 3,200-ton destroyer, five ships, the Air Force’s F-15K combat fighter jets and twin-engine CH-47 helicopters. The drill was held as Japan continues to press its claim to the islets.

Last week, Japan’s Foreign Ministry posted a video on the Internet renewing its claim, which Seoul protested. Such drills around Dokdo have been held twice a year since 1986, but yesterday was a rare case in which it coincided with Dokdo Day. The Ministry of National Defense said yesterday that part of the purpose of the drill was to show that Korea is ready to defend its territory in any situation.

Civilians also stepped out to celebrate the 113th Dokdo Day. In Gwanghwamun in central Seoul hundreds of people gathered to dance, sing and hold flashmobs proclaiming Dokdo is Korean territory, while 80 students from Gyeonggi were invited to participate in celebrations on the islets themselves. Daegu Metropolitan officials showed up to work wearing “Dokdo Love” T-shirts yesterday.

Oct. 25 was declared Dokdo Day in 2010 by various civic organizations, including the Korean Federation of Teachers’ Associations, to celebrate Emperor Gojong of the Korean Empire proclaiming jurisdiction over the islets and nearby Ulleung Island in the East Sea in 1900.

The Japanese government launched a YouTube video last week on its claim to the islets, which it calls Takeshima. After Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the Japanese government video provocative, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said, “The video clip conveys our position very well.” He said his ministry doesn’t plan to follow Korea’s request to remove the video.

Ichita Yamamoto, Japan’s Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs, said yesterday, “A video clip was a long time coming.” Regarding Seoul’s protest, he said, “Because it is clearly Japanese territory, there is no need to listen to this and that from others.”

Seo Kyung-deok, a professor of social studies at Sungshin Women’s University, joined forces with broadcaster MBC, Ulleung County and the Northeast Asian History Foundation Thursday to post a 10-minute educational clip on YouTube on the online education company Megastudy’s channel. It is aimed at raising awareness that the islets have been Korean territory for 1,500 years, citing historical evidence and showing documents and maps.

Seo points out that Dokdo can be seen from Korea’s Ulleung Island with the naked eye on a clear day. He also discusses the activities of Ahn Yong-bok, a fisherman from Busan, who traveled to Japan in 1693 during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) to appeal to the Japanese government to recognize Dokdo and Ulleung Island as Korean territory.

The video pays tribute to the beauty of the islets and the deep connection Korean people have to Dokdo,

“Japan’s claim of sovereignty over Dokdo is an act that denies the independence of Korea,” said the narrator.

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