“Sea of Korea (East Sea)” has been marked, on the world maps made in the West Europe, as Mare Occeaneum (Carpini, 1245), Ocean Orientalis (Waldsssmuller, 1507), East Sea (Zang Huang,1613), Mar Coria (Manuel Godinho, 1615) and so on.
International Hydrographic Conferance was opened in London in June, 1919 at the motion of the United Kingdom Government. The conference was participated by 18 countries including US, French, Japan and United Kingdom colonies such as Australia, India and Egypt. However, Korea failed to attend because it was annexed by militarism Japan.
The 1919 conference adopted the resolution on the Limits of Oceans and Seas (Resolution, Section IV-13). Its member states submitted all materials on the limit of competent seas to IHO in accordance with the resolution. IHO primarily arranged these materials and made the tentative plan in Feb 15, 1923. Because this tentative plan was made under the influence of Japan’s representatives, such as Navy major Sakonji, Yamakuchi Kumahiro and engineer So Kazei, “Sea of Korea” was, for the first time, marked as “Japan Sea” on the plan. The plan was distributed to its member states. The limits of 48 oceans and seas and their names were registered on this circular letter. However, Korea could not submit any opinion to IHO.
As a result, “Sea of Korea” have thus far been marked as “Japan Sea” on every marine chart and relevant world maps including the book entitled “Limits of Oceans and Seas” and its revised editions, which were published in 1929, 1937, 1952 and 1986.
Korea finally participated in IHO in 1957 and paid the 12th largest mount of charges to IHO among its 70 member states. Ever since 1994, Korea has been keeping to request IHO and its member states to change the currently used “Japan Sea” into “Sea of Korea”. On the other hand, Korea has gone through the process of listening to comprehensive opinions from its member states.
IHO is trying to apply the same policy in marking the place names on an international basis (A.4.1). It is also implementing the Resolution on the Standard of Place Names (A.4.2) adopted in 1974 for the purpose of the international standardization of place names. The A.4.2.6 of this Resolution required that the place names, such as “Sea of Korea”, under the influence of the sovereign state be marked as it is until the existing name is changed into a new name. By complying with this principle, “Japan Sea” should be marked as “Sea of Korea” on the book of “Limits of Oceans and Seas”, which is expected to be published in 2002 (21 century).
Source by : IHO (International Hydrographic Organization)