These Islands Are Ours - Korea vs. Japan

These Islands Are Ours – Korea vs. Japan

Whether it is in a gym or hallways of political centers, there has been division between Japan and Korea.

Neighbors? Yes. Friends? That is debatable.

Last week when South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak visited a volcanic islands in the Sea of Japan (East Sea), political tensions skyrocketed again. Japan recalled its ambassador from Seoul while the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda described the visit as extremely deplorable.

In the middle of this ongoing diplomatic row and territorial dispute, a team of South Korean swimmers are jumping into the fracas that will undoubtedly lead to more actions and counter-actions by both sides.

The team plans to swim 144 miles from Uljin, Korea to Dokdo (the Korean name) in an attempt to assert Korean sovereignty over the Takeshima (the Japanese name) that is claimed by Japan.

The outcroppings are a group of small islets in the Sea of Japan. Sovereignty over the 2 main islets and 35 smaller rocks has been long disputed between Japan and South Korea. The islets lie in rich fishing grounds which could also contain large gas deposits. In a swim teaming with overt political overtones, the Koreans plan to complete the swim on Liberation Day Wednesday, which marks the ending in 1945 of Japan’s 35-year colonial rule over Korea.

Team captain Kim Jang-Hoon, joined by members of a swimming club at the Korea National Sport University, estimates the swim will take 55 hours. In words that rile the Japanese government, Kim said, “I will never make such a comment as ‘Dokdo is our territory’ when I arrive there. It’s meaningless to do so because they are undeniably our territory.”

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