Dokdo preview released by gov’t

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Dokdo preview released by gov’t

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs unveiled a video clip on Wednesday promoting its ownership over the Dokdo islets in the East Sea - which are also claimed by Japan - emphasizing that it was the first soil trampled by Japan’s imperial aggression.

The footage, posted on the Foreign Ministry’s website and its YouTube channel, is designed to counter Japan’s use of social media to assert its claim on the islets.

The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted a video publicizing its claim last October, prompting Korea to call for its removal.

The release, which is now available in more than 10 languages, including Korean, set off a firestorm of emotions among the public.

At the time, Cho Tai-young, the spokesman for Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a briefing that the government strongly opposed the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s posting of the video clips and called for their immediate removal.

Korea’s four-minute video released Wednesday is a summary of a longer 12-minute version that is still under development. The released video features a set of historical documents and maps that support Korea’s sovereignty on the islets. Those include geographical texts from the Annals of King Sejong of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) and a map, titled “Dongguk Daejeongdo,” which was published in the 18th century.

Korea sees Japan’s claim over Dokdo, which it calls Takeshima, as a revival of past imperial ambitions, which started in 1905 when the country deprived Korea of diplomatic sovereignty. In 1910, Japan took over the Korean Peninsula.

The core message of the video presentation is that the territorial dispute over the Dokdo islets erupted as Imperial Japan kept its eyes on neighboring countries during the early 20th century. The clip adds that even Japanese historical materials do not regard the islets as part of Japanese territory until 1905.

Korea’s Foreign Ministry said that it plans to provide a longer version in multiple languages, although it did not elaborate on a release date.

The ministry presented a 12-minute video in October but had to withdraw it due to the unauthorized use of clips from Japanese broadcaster NHK. While diplomatic tit-for-tat expulsions were waged online, the government’s budget allocation for the islets triggered a public backlash.

When the National Assembly passed the budget bills for 2014, it earmarked much less funding for the islets’ promotion than it originally proposed.

The National Assembly passed a 4.84 billion won ($4.63 million) budget bill. The amount represents about a 14 percent increase compared to last year’s 4.24 billion won. But it is a drastic cut from the proposed 6.84 billion won, trimmed by approximately 2 billion won.

Meanwhile, Japan at the last minute increased its budget to promote its territorial claims by 1.9 million won, in sharp contrast to Korea.

Many have criticized the government for being stringent when allocating budgets pertaining to the islets, although the funds for publicizing Korea’s territorial claim have gradually increased.

In 2011, it allocated a mere 11.3 million won for Dokdo’s promotion abroad - a miniscule 0.018 percent of the entire overseas promotional budget. Many have expressed concern that the government’s inaction will gradually weaken Korea’s voice over the islets and give a bigger say to Japan.



BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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