A petition campaign proclaiming that Dokdo is a Korean territory is well underway on the White House home page. This is a reaction to Japan calling it “Takeshima” and claiming sovereignty over the island.

The campaign stating that Dokdo is a Korean territory stayed inside Korea at first. However, when an advertising expert started to place advertisements about this issue on the New York Times, this sovereignty issue came to light in the U.S. as well. As Korean Americans and related organizations joined this performance, Korean correspondents spread the news, making the advertiser a hero of some sort. But through this, the Korean government was chastised severely for maintaining a low-key stance on the Dokdo issue.

Thanks to their effort, Dokdo finally became the center of an international controversy. Japan took up the name “Takeshima” again, leading Google and Microsoft to take a neutral stance towards this issue. Instead of naming the contested territory “Dokdo” or “Takeshima”, these two companies started using the old name, “Liancourt Rocks.”

When Koreans took the issue to the world, the international community began to look at Dokdo as a contested territory. This is exactly what Japan wanted.

These people spent a large amount of money to place their ads on influential media. However, the media made it clear that the ads did not represent the views of the holding companies. The advertisements were just advertisements that did not entice anyone in regards to this issue. Not only that, I am beginning to wonder about the stance of those media companies that did not receive this advertisement.

In 2007, we constantly delivered information regarding Japan’s forced sexual slavery of women during World War II. On March 6th, the New York Times printed an opinion column on the ‘Comfort Women’ problem, followed by the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post. Their actions brought motion to our efforts and the Congress began to take this issue seriously.

Recently, individuals and groups who do not have a clue on what to do started petition campaigns to the White House. The White House’s answers to these issues are quite obvious yet people do not realize it; they only believe that the number of petitions collected matters. There is no doubt of the fact that these people started the petitions with good intentions, but for this issue, they should have been more cautious strategically.

Why did they spend all that time and effort along with money to advertise this issue in the United States and make it into an international controversy? Of course, citizens’ rising up against social or political problems is highly encouraged. But sensitive diplomatic problems such as the “Comfort Women” issue, a human rights issue at its very essence and territorial claims is on a totally different scale. For such matters, the citizens and the government must work together, and do a careful analysis on their course of action to predict outcomes.

When you really think about it, there was no need to respond to Japan’s territorial claims over Dokdo. The island is maintained by the Korean government with police presence. The only thing that was needed when Japan made a territorial claim was a strong rebuke from the Korean government.

When the petitions are collected, how will the White House respond? The response is obvious. “The White House cannot comment about the two nations’ historical claims, and we wish the best to these nations as they work out their differences.” This statement recognizes that Dokdo is under Korean sovereignty, but authenticates the claim that the island is a contested territory.

I sincerely ask that the community compounds their opinions together and work together in a coherent and strategic manner.


Categories: Column / Opinion
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