Sunday, March 15, 2009

Caring About Dokdo

Some have said that no one in the world would give a crap about Dokdo and the dispute Korea and Japan have over these tiny islets in the sea.

Well I guess we don't have to care about the rocks themselves, instead let's focus on the dispute.

Following MISSISSIPPI to KOREA's blog post about this issue mentioned in the Boston Glob, I came across a thoughtful remark left by "PN" in the commentary.

There is an interesting disconnect between how East and West view Japan. Westerners think of Japan as a modern, polite and peaceful nation. A land of smiling faces and cute cartoon characters.

In Asia Japan is more noted for its fascist, imperialist past - a nation that killed tens of millions of innocent civilians, forced hundreds of thousands of girls and women into sexual slavery, and conducted medical experiments on live human subjects. Millions of people who suffered under Imperial Japan are still alive today.

Imperial Japan, in many ways, was much worse than Nazi Germany.
This history is common knowledge to any school age kid in China and Korea, but is swept under the rug by the Japanese education system. The US education system isn't much better in this regard.

Japanese territorial aggression goes back way farther than WWII. It's a centuries old story for Japan to claim land that does not belong to her.

I see a lot of people wondering what all the fuss is about. This conflict is not just about two little rocks in the middle of the sea. An issue like Dokdo will only make sense when put into proper historical context.
A great point was made in this quote, which is that the citizens of Eastern Asia have an internally historical relationship with Japan. If you grew up in a nation that had been raped and ravished by another nation, than you might too feel a little sting underneath your grin. And I think the same would go for the citizens of Japan, although I have no clue, that they might feel a bit of pain for the context of their history.

Ah well, who knows if this issue will some day be put to rest. For now it will always make for great topics to discuss and I guess make fun of.

In the meantime please enjoy these photos of a Dokdo Documentary DVD I found at the Kyobo bookstore in Gwanghwamun.
I didn't purchase this oh so collectible item (on a budget lately) but if I did I think it would look something like this:

Sorry, Dokdo Korean Documentary Trailer - Free videos are just a click away

The awareness campaign for Dokdo here in Korea spreads to T-shirts, hats, pencil cases, notebooks and so on. A spectacle, really.

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