Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Dokdo Island Controversy

Have you heard? Maybe not. The past few weeks have brought out some good old anti-Japanese sentiments. Why? Well, Japan published in some text books that the Dokdo Islands were considered part of it's territory. These islands were seized by Japan when they took over the rest of Korea in the early 20th century, but theoretically, they should have been returned to Korea after world war two in 1945. For some reason though, the nationality of these islands has been a bit ambiguous over the years.

To make matters worse, about a week ago, the U.S. board of geographic names (didn't know we even had a board of geographic names) declared Dokdo as "Undesignated Sovereignty" giving more legitimacy to Japan's claims on the territory.

Furious, Korea pulled its ambassador temporarily out of Japan. Protests were held in front of the Japanese embassy here in Seoul on the 18th of July, and even some adds for Japanese products were pulled out of the metro.

The Korean government staged a large military drill over the island this week which included maritime police and six naval ships including a destroyer and the air force's newest jet, the F-15K.

Things are finally settling down though here. Bush apologized for the mistake of changing the nationality of the islands, and restored it to Korea, it's obvious rightful owner (at least in the eyes of Koreans). Ambassadors have been sent back to Japan and things should be back to normal soon I think. Now the Koreans can go back to being angry about US beef again.

So, what's the big deal about these islands you ask? Well, let's first start with the island's population. There are TWO permanant residents.. who are by the way of South Korean decent. There is a a Korean police department there, and light house staff. What's on this island that everyone wants so bad? Well, here's a picture. you tell me.

Yup, these are just two hunks of rock in the sea.

Ok, ok, there might actually be some value to these hunks of rock though. It's more about the water surrounding these hunks of rock. I won't admit I totally understand the politics of it, but the owners of the islands also will control the fishing rights surrounding the islands, and any other potential natural resources that might be present.

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