Dear. Editor, Brian Deutsch
I am a foreign language high school student who tries to read write and speak English and Japanese not to be ignored by people like Peter in your column. Even though I am just a young lady of Korea, I want to criticize some of your points as a citizen of Korea like my fellow Korean Mr. Kim: who put effort into practicing patriotism. I too feel there is a lack of justifying in the naming of the sea. .
First, you insisted that Korea tries to dictate the name of the body of water in English. Your words might be right somehow. We, the Koreans might do ignore the Japanese side. But, first, let’s see the history of East Sea/Sea of Japan. When Japan invaded Korea, they deprived the Korean territory and sovereignty. We call this imperialism. But the ‘Treaty of San Francisco with Japan’ concluded in 1949 which states Korea is an independent country and Japan gives up all the rights of Korea including territory of Korea. But Japan still insists that the East Sea is their own territory, their own sea. The name, Sea of Japan is a legacy of Japan’s imperialism. In addition, because of this arguing, the UN declared one name can not be used, both name should be used in 1994. But the Japanese minister of foreign affairs organized an exclusive team of which the purpose of promoting Sea of Japan. Japan apparently ignored the UN’s decision. Thanks to the Japan’s enthusiastic activity, US SAT textbook say the name of the body of water which separates Japan and Korea is the Sea of Japan. And the three quarters of worldwide maps state that the name of the sea is the Sea of Japan. In this situation, why can’t you mention dictatorship to Japan? Why do you call Mr. Kim’s behavior a dictatorship?
Second, you believed that Koreans can’t speak; write and read English well dare tries to change the English usage. But I think Kim Jang-hoon didn’t try to change just a English usage but worldwide people’s wrong cognition. As I said before, the name of the water is not the Sea of Japan. But many people think it is, and they deserve to know true fact, and Koreans deserve to inform the truth.
Third, I agree with Keith’s opinion which explains the name of the sea can be called differently depending on the country. But Keith’s examples do not fit to the East Sea (Sea of Japan). The French body of water he mentioned is not a politically troubled part of world. People can say whatever they want, but the sea we are arguing about is different. This is in conflict. No maps say that a troubled area belongs in a certain country. No maps say Kashmir in India is Muslim or Hindu because there is religious strife. Maps should mark both names of the body of the water.
I think you were confused between criticism and blame. In your opinion, there is no historical foundation. We call that sheer blame not proper criticism. When you understand the history of Korea, then you can’t downplay Mr. Kim’s effort. Finally, both names of the sea: the East Sea and the Sea of Japan have to be inscribed in the every map. Or Korea and Japan should have a meeting about this sensitive subject and give the sea a new and better name together.
I sent her a response a couple days ago and re-explained a couple points and mentioned where I thought her reply was wrong. A couple big things jumped out at me. For instance, by naming the water "Sea of Japan" we are not saying Japan owns it.
Secondly, she misunderstood Keith's example, though she in turn says that Keith's example doesn't fit Korea and Japan. Here's what he had to say in the original piece:
Keith writes, “Each language has its own names for geographic locations and this should be respected by others. For us English speakers the body of water that lies between Korea, Russia and Japan is called the Sea of Japan. It has always been that way since Commodore Perry opened up Japan (and I assume long before that). The body of water that lies between Britain and France is called the English Channel. The French call it ‘La Manche’ (The Sleeve). I speak French and when I am in France I don’t call it ‘The English Channel’ when speaking French. I call it La Manche. When I speak English, it is called the English Channel, not the Sleeve. I do not upset any French person when I say English Channel when speaking English.”
Keith's point was that when people speak English, regardless of nationality, they call it "The English Channel" and not "La Manche." And when people speak French, regardless of nationality, they call it "La Manche." I'll reiterate that nobody is suggesting the name be switched to 일본해 in Korean. The name is 동해, "East Sea," in Korean, and speakers of Korean regardless of nationality will refer to this water as 동해 in Korean. The same consideration needs to be shown to English speakers, and indeed to speakers of other languages that refer to it as the Sea of Japan in their own languages. I don't recall ever calling the singer a "dictator[ship]," but I find foreigners dictating somebody's language and culture to them to be pretty pushy.
Third, I do think people who have little to no knowledge of English shouldn't stick their noses in our business. If they are so interested in "correcting" English, perhaps they should start in their own country with all the nonsense English on shirts, in music, on textbooks, on advertisements, as company names, and pretty much anywhere else you look in Korea.
You know, if there were a campaign within Korea to call it "East Sea" in English within Korea I'd actually be a little more fine with that, just so long as pressue isn't applied to other countries to change their language or nomenclature. But, well, we've seen that, excuse my yelling, THEY DON'T EVEN CHECK THE MAPS IN KOREA, demonstrating that people are more moved by the idea of getting back at Japan, and providing yet another example of why you shouldn't use a foreign language you clearly don't understand.
Finally, the Sea of Japan isn't a disputed area. The name is disputed by Korea, of course, but not in the world at large. If maps in Korea are interested in listing both names in Korean---they don't of course---or even in English, that's fine, but there is no reason to take the crusade to the world.
I'll leave this here for your consideration, but play nice. I just want to mention, though, that this student seems to be advocating for using both names on maps. I don't agree with that, either, but it's better than what we often get from people who insist it should be only the East Sea, or even the East Sea of Korea. Indeed the men who put the ads in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal say the name should be written East Sea.
There is no Sea of Japan in the world
the ad says.
Tell me it's not haughty, indeed not dictatorial, to, well, dictate to a paper how it should use its language, how it should label its maps.