A volunteer Korean online group Sunday pledged a full-fledged international campaign through the distribution of user-created contents (UCC) to get map makers and international organizations to use the name “East Sea on their maps, not “Sea of Japan.
The move comes as the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) opens a three-day general meeting Monday in Monaco to deal with the decades-long dispute between Seoul and Tokyo over the name of the waters between the Korean Peninsula and the islands of Japan.
A high agenda item in the meeting is whether to use the name East Sea in the fourth edition of “Limits of Oceans and Seas (S23), a guide book for map makers around the globe, which currently identifies the waters as Sea of Japan.
In 2002, the hydrographic body accepted South Koreas argument for using both the names of the waters and distributed a circular letter to its member countries, asking for a vote on the issue but withdrew the letter after Japan objected. The IHO has 73 member states.
“Weve been engaging in an e-mail campaign to promote the name East Sea. But from now on, we will also utilize the popular homemade video clips to help people around the world have a better understanding of Korea, and geographical and historical reasons of the sea name, said Park Ki-tae, a representative of the Voluntary Agency Network of Korea (VANK). Vank has about 18,000 members including 3,000 foreigners.
In the beginning, the non-governmental group will promote the East Sea through government-made clips and later use various material such as interviews with foreigners or other unique contents made by ordinary citizens, Kim said.
“Japan already used UCC as a way of promoting its claim over the sea name. We also should make the best of the global trend to prevent world mapmakers from identifying the waters as the Sea of Japan, he added.
VANKs worldwide campaign has been successful as the National Geographic and other mapmakers have adopted the East Sea. But the Sea of Japan is still dominant worldwide because of the ambiguity of the East Sea.
Japanese groups claim that the name East Sea is not suitable as an international geographic name because it could refer to various places including the neighboring East China Sea. The East Sea is a translation of the Korean name in English.
In a related development, the Cultural Heritage Administrator Yoo Hong-jun called for renaming the East Sea as the Sea of Korea.
Foreign ministry officials vowed their “determination to carry their point in the IHO meeting.
Song Young-wan, director general of the International Organization Bureau, leads the South Korean delegation consisting of representatives from the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and state-run research institutes at the meeting.
“We are determined to prevent the IHO assembly from voting on the unilateral use of Sea of Japan, an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said, asking not to be named. “If the assembly pushes ahead with a vote, we will try best to persuade most member countries to abstain.
But the general tone seems to be leaning toward the unilateral use of the Sea of Japan, mainly because of Japans full-fledged lobbying, said the official.
Japan registered the Sea of Japan as the official name of the waters with the IHO in the early 1920s. In 1928, the Sea of Japan was adopted in the first edition of Limits of Oceans and Seas, but at that time Korea could not participate because it was under Japanese occupation.
The IHO has since updated the map guidebook three times, but the Sea of Japan has been appeared as the sole appellation in all of them in the revised editions.
By Jung Sung-ki