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FROM POETRY TO ETHICS: MAPMAKERS ON NAMING OF THE SEA BETWEEN JAPAN AND KOREA

Yearn Hong Choi
The Journal of East Asian Affairs
Vol. 23, No. 1 (Spring/Summer 2009), pp. 115-144
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23257993
Page Count: 30
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
FROM POETRY TO ETHICS: MAPMAKERS ON NAMING OF THE SEA BETWEEN JAPAN AND KOREA
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Abstract

Deciding upon the name of the sea that separates their two countries: namely the East Sea from a Korean perspective or the Sea of Japan from a Japanese perspective, has fueled an ongoing diplomatic battle between Japan and Korea since the Korean people demanded the joint use of the two names for the sea between their two countries. Strange to say, the Japanese government has not been sympathetic to this nominal demand at all. Its rationale is: the Sea of Japan has been the prevailing name on almost all maps in the past 100 years or more. The Japanese government did not understand, and has not shown any compassion towards the Korean people's legitimate complaint. In the last stage of Japanese colonial rule over Korea, the Korean people lost their names and were forced to have Japanese names. The name East Sea disappeared in the waves of Japanese imperial power sweeping Asia around the turn of the 20th century. The United Nations set up the principle of using both names when the two nations failed to agree on a single name for the sea between their two countries. But the Japanese government denies stubbornly the use of both names, even though it is regarded as a civilized nation and is a member of the UN. I propose hereby to educate mapmakers in order to persuade them to ponder upon the name of the sea, and think of it as a special place existing on the Earth in the way a poet would when they print maps in future. The name of this sea is a serious matter not only to the Korean people, but also to all mapmakers, as they are, first of all, educators and intellectual members of their respective societies. This article advocates the consideration of poetry, and moral and environmental ethics in the naming of the sea between them for the necessity of educating mapmakers and restoring its displaced name in the interests of justice as fairness (Rawls).

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