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 ’s
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 (
Action for protecting Dokdo is also actively ongoing inside . Dokdo Guardians is a student group at
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 a
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 5th
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 the