Korean-American power is influencing local school boards, local councils and the state legislatures to accept the joint use of the terms East Sea and Sea of Japan and Korea's undisputed sovereignty of the Dokdo islets.
Local and state politicians are enlightened by Korean-American influence on the issues of the unknown sea and islets. American people are the least educated on international affairs, especially on East Asian affairs.
They need education on these. Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin did not know how to distinguish Africa as a continent and a nation. This is just one good example.
The U.S. Library of Congress's map of Korea has been corrected. However, many American people, including so-called intellectuals, think Dokdo is a disputed islet between Korea and Japan. Korean-Americans are now approaching American politicians with their voting power.
Power in democracy is dependent on the strength of voting power. Korean-American power is small but growing and increasingly influencing American politics. This is one very fortunate story in Korea's competition with Japan.
Japanese-American power exists, but it is not comparable to Korean-American power. The Korean-American community is a new Korea frontier.
Not worth explaining my thoughts on this topic again, but I just wonder why, if they're so smart, do they keep calling it the East Sea? An article from this fall reported that 95% of Koreans believe the body of water should be labelled the East Sea. The above column about influence and lobbying---written by a man notorious around here for his bad, bad poetry about Dokdo---is ironic since one of the chief objections to using Sea of Japan or Liancourt Rocks in English is that it's seen by some as a manifestation of Japanese influence and lobbying, and thus a resurrection of Japanese imperialism. Then again, the whole issue is rather ironic; protesting the name "Sea of Japan" because it is biased toward one country, and suggesting "East Sea" as an alternative even though the sea is east of Korea alone.
Choi has written about the Sea of Japan issue before, both in verse and in prose. He advocates using both Sea of Japan and East Sea on maps, even though there is no historical precedent for using the latter in English.
Fairness should be derived from the political history of the land and the sea, and historic international relations between countries. The Sea of Japan and the East Sea are the two legitimate names of the waters between Japan and Korea. The Sea of Japan, eliminating the East Sea, has been the prevailing name since Japan emerged as a powerful military nation around the turn of the 20th century and colonized Korea in 1910.
This is part of the sad and unfortunate political history of Japan and Korea. Modern mapmakers should recognize the lost name of the Korean people and their sea under Japanese rule and should print the two names of the sea for the purpose of restoring the dignity of the once colonized nation. The two names in this case reflect the existence of the two nations, and remind people that their history is one of unequal relations. One name over the sea between Japan and Korea is not just and fair.
The problem with writing about nationalistic issues like this is that somebody like me, who implicitly belittles the conflict, becomes just as involved in it as the people doing the agitating in the first place. I read about people trying to change it to "East Sea" and my first thought is "I gotta write a letter to somebody about that shit." Well, if I knew who to write a letter to, or if I took a few minutes to find out, I think I might just fire one off reminding cartographers or policymakers that the prevailing English name of a body of water oughtn't be changed in accordance with a "It's ours by default because Japan was bad" line of reasoning. About as legitimate as foreigners trying to get Koreans to stop calling us "외국인," come to think of it. But if that angle doesn't work, they can always compare the Holocaust with Dokdo:
Why did the United States participate in the European War? The American people should watch Adolf Hitler's victory after victory. They could not. Why not? The human conscience. Isn't it?
Why did the U.S. participate in the Korean War? The U.S. could watch the North Korean invasion of South Korea and accept the unification of Korea under Kim Il-sung's communism in 1950. President Harry S. Truman could not just watch the war, and sent the troops to save South Korea. Many GIs were killed. Why? Human conscience and a sense of justice.
Justice can be served with human conscience. Now, American people and European people do not serve justice when they are standing neutral between Japan and Korea on the matter of Dokdo. As a matter of fact, they are disturbing the sense of justice.
That's post number 45 in the "Liancourt Rocks" category, for those keeping score at home.