University students rise up to claim sovereign Dokdo
상태바
University students rise up to claim sovereign Dokdo
  • 한정수 기자
  • 승인 2008.08.31 11:58
  • 댓글 0
이 기사를 공유합니다

▲ Dokdo Riders pose on the Karakoram highway that connects China and Pakistan.

            South Korea and Japan have long been engaged in a fierce debate over the sovereignty of the island, Dokdo, which is located 90 kilometers east of ’sUllungIsland and also 157 kilometers northwest of ’sOkiIslands . The Japanese assert that they incorporated Dokdo into the Japanese Empire on February 22, 1905 under the name of Takeshima. The Koreans, however, lay their claim to Dokdo based on earlier and more numerous precedents than those of . They point to a document that named it as a territory that was first incorporated into the Korean Shilla Dynasty in 512 AD.  

             The controversy over Dokdo has indeed aggravated the relationship between the two countries to a great extent, since both countries consider the ownership of Dokdo as an anchor for their respective interests of the rich sea resources in the surrounding waters. Amid the Japanese provocation of publicly announcing Dokdo as their territory and stating such in its high school textbooks, Korean university students have joined together to offer what little help they can in order to insist on the sovereignty of Dokdo.  

             Kim Young-bin (SeoulNationalUniversity , 4) gathered three university colleagues and military acquaintances to form the “Dokdo Riders.” In May 2005, Kim was so enraged at the Japanese action of establishing Takeshima Day that he decided to organize the group. Surprised at how prevalently the island was attributed as a Japanese territory, Kim and the group decided to actively announce Dokdo as a Korean territory by crossing the world on motorcycles. The crew began their long ride in Los Angeles, the , to travel around 21 countries including , other European nations, , , , and , returning to Seoul in October 2006. While riding on the motorcycle, they hung a big sign that claimed Dokdo as a Korean territory.  

             Action for protecting Dokdo is also actively ongoing inside . Dokdo Guardians is a student group atChungnamNationalUniversity that recently came into being on July 22. The president of the Dokdo Guardians, Kim Dong-wook (ChungnamNationalUniversity , 4) lamented the lack of social awareness among university students in contemporary society. “It seems like university students are only interested in internships and employment. I had to organize the Dokdo Guardians since I believed in the changes that can be made at a student level. As far as the Dokdo issue is concerned, bringing up national awareness and getting the attention of people are things that even university students can do,” said Kim.  

As of now, the Dokdo Guardians have visited Dokdo on July 23 and hung a giant Korean national flag on the cycles to declare the island as a Korean territory. A large kite that says “Dokdo is a Korean territory” both in Korean and Japanese has been flown on the island, too. Moreover, they announced a manifesto to put their utmost efforts in protecting Dokdo and are collecting student messages on campus to send to the press.  

Choi Ji-sun (International Studies, 3) is a member of a  cyber organization called Voluntary Agency Network of Korea (VANK). VANK members make it their duty to revise historical distortions and advertise an accurate image of . In other words, VANK can be said to be a cyber diplomatic missionary that guides international citizens to properly understand through e-mails and visiting opportunities.  

“The Dokdo issue is the most frequently asked subject when I exchange e-mails with the Japanese pals. They often ask of my personal opinion, and I frankly tell them about the historical facts based on the education I received at VANK. The surprising thing is that we don’t engage in emotional debates or embarrassing moments, but mutually exchange previously unknown information and willingly accept things we judge as rational,” said Choi. 

            Choi has been a member of VANK for about a year and said that activities and VANK helped her greatly in realizing the necessity of university student participation. “I rather think that the university students have more potential than current politicians in making a change. relatively lacks power in the international society, so politicians themselves have no room for a drastic improvement,” said Choi. She believes in the power of youth who will lead the next generation to be actively engage in society?which makes it so essential for university students to participate in these socially contentious issues.  

           The International Dokdo Preservation Network, a non-governmental organization founded in an international effort to correct the misnomer Takesima, offers aDokdoAcademy program for college students. Selected applicants are said to receive three-week-training and visit Dokdo as the last part of their session. Kim Wook Jin (KoreaUniversity , 4), who served as a member of the latestDokdoAcademy comments on the passion he felt after receiving the training. “I felt I was finally ready. Koreans somewhat respond impulsively to the Japanese provocation—unconditionally shouting that Dokdo is a Korean territory without knowing the real reason why. Time spent at the Dokdo academy was so valuable to me in that I got to finally answer ‘why,’” said Kim.  

Kim emphasized the importance of a calm response and careful planning rather than impulsive demonstrations. In line with such determination, Kim and his colleagues at the 5thDokdoAcademy decided to return to their schools and continue advertising Dokdo and carrying out a signature-seeking campaign.  

            For the latest public event, Dokdo Vessel Concert was held on board a ship on August 12 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the National Foundation Day.  

            Many Korean pop singers participated in the meaningful event, and university students were no exception. “I took part in the concert and shared my passion with the public since I thought that these kinds of diplomatic issues are not only about desk negotiations but more about bridging awareness. Some may not find a link between a musical concert and fixing a wrongly distorted history, but seriously, the Dokdo Vessel Concert had a huge influence on me,” said Kwak Eu-jene (Public Administration, 4). Kwak added that having returned from the concert, she got more interested in the Dokdo dispute and more attentive to social issues in newspapers.  

             Park Chan-woo (36), the chief director of theDokdoAcademy delivers a message to all university students. ”We need a strategic response and calm contemplation when it comes to the Dokdo issue. University students, being the leaders of the next society and intellectuals of the contemporary community, need to be consistently educated about the issue and take action. It does not start from a big scratch, so hesitate no more,” said Park.  


댓글삭제
삭제한 댓글은 다시 복구할 수 없습니다.
그래도 삭제하시겠습니까?
댓글 0
댓글쓰기
계정을 선택하시면 로그인·계정인증을 통해
댓글을 남기실 수 있습니다.
IMPORTANT NEWS
ISSUE PHOTO