[KS] Library of Congress Korean Controversy

Young-Key Kim-Renaud kimrenau at gwu.edu
Sat Jul 19 09:12:00 EDT 2008

Dear Scott and the other members of the Korean Studies List,

Thanks, Scott, for trying to clarify what you really meant when posting your earlier message. Since my name is often mentioned along with Hana Kim’s in the Korean media these days, although my “contribution” here is only helping her reach the people her message were intended for,  I read the recent comments with more interest than I would ever have otherwise. Here are some of my thoughts and puzzles, which I’d like to share, hoping they would stimulate some substantial debate, helping us as a group and perhaps even making a difference to the society:

(1)	When I first received Hana Kim’s request for my help in her effort to put a break in LOC’s proposal to change the subject heading from “Tok Island (Korea)” to “Liancourt Rocks,” I paid attention to what she said, not because she was someone I knew or because she had a Korean name, but because she was sending these messages on behalf of the Committee on Korean Materials of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS, as is well known, is an American organization, although members come from all corners of the world). That the Korean media should be interested in her nationality or national origin (I am not sure whether she is a Korean or Canadian citizen.) does not come as a surprise, because their readers and viewers are, but in a “scholarly” LIST such as ours, it always bothers me that when people of Korean origin speak, too often they are subject to this kind of scrutiny and immediately suspected of “nationalism.”

(2)	The stature and authority of LOC are recognized beyond the territory of the United States. They set the standards for the whole world. It would be actually degrading for this official organization to say that any foreigner writing to LOC expressing his/her opinion should be considered interfering with the internal affairs of the US.

(3)	I am personally curious why the Tokto issue is a “non-issue.” Could someone, including Marko Rajakko, instruct me on this point? Please stay with the topic at  hand and do not talk of what you might consider more important issues that should be first considered. Why should the Tokto topic not be a concern for anyone interested in Korean affairs? How do we get out of the current dilemma? Just hand the island to Japan? Declare it still uninhabited and not belonging to any country? To me personally the issue is important from the security and international relations, economic (gas, oil, fishery), the law of the sea, historical, and even scientific points of view. Why are these very concrete points beyond the realm of our discussion?

I do not feel lesser than anyone in deploring the current trends of nationalism not only in Korea, but also elsewhere in Asia, the United States, and other parts of the world. I have been warning the Korean press against such a danger as they have come to interview me, and I think many journalists have taken my concern seriously, although some have frankly told me that they would not run the interview with me, because I was hesitant to give “a clear perspective” or rather did not say what they wanted to hear from me. 

As an academically oriented group, I would think we could offer some substantial discussion that could illuminate everyone’s viewpoint and perhaps even help resolve the issue in a way that would be acceptable to all parties involved.


Young-Key Kim-Renaud, Chair
Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures
Professor of Korean Language and Culture and International Affairs
The George Washington University
801 22nd Street, N.W. (Academic Center, Rome Hall 469)
Washington, DC 20052
E-mail: kimrenau at gwu.edu
Tel: (O) 202-994-7107
Fax: (O) 202-994-1512

>From 	"J.Scott Burgeson" <jsburgeson at yahoo.com> 

Sent 	Friday, July 18, 2008 11:20 pm
To 	koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws 

Subject 	Re: [KS] Library of Congress Korean Controversy
Hello Anne--
   thank you for your comments. I am mainly arguing for some intellectual consistency in this matter. The argument is frequently made on the Korean side that Japanese textbooks which state the Japanese position on Dokdo-Takeshima is a "violation" of ROK national sovereignty. As far as I know Hana Kim is a Canadian national of Korean descent and is clearly not a US citizen (indeed, the recent Chosun Ilbo profile of her describes her as "Korean), so she is certainly lobbying on behalf of a foreign government here. Perhaps if she was a taxpaying US citizen I would be more open to her lobbying efforts in the US, double-standards notwithstanding.
   As for the spam charge, I've noticed a recent trend here on the List that can indeed be characterized as nationalistic spam. Last month, for instance, another contributor to the List made several specious claims regarding the US beef importation issue, including using the controversial (and subsequently debunked) PD Such'op program as a source. I asked not once but twice for this contributor to verify her sources but was ignored both times. In such cases, when drive-by commenters here are not interested in having honest debate then they are simply spammers, and I am suprised that more people here are not offended when this happens.
   If Hana Kim is interested in having an honest debate about the Dokto-Takeshima issue (which I personally question given that she characterizes the US Library of Congress' planned decision to change its English-language name for Dokto as "arbitrary," when in fact it would be a more accurate reflection of official US policy), then that would be most welcome. Indeed, I would be very happy to see other third-party scholars, geographers in particular, weigh in on this very sensitive issue, in the interest of objective scholarly pursuit!
   --Scott Bug

--- On Fri, 7/18/08, Anne Hilton <ahilton at u.washington.edu> wrote:

> From: Anne Hilton <ahilton at u.washington.edu>
> Subject: Re: [KS] Library of Congress Korean Controversy
> To: "Korean Studies Discussion List" <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
> Date: Friday, July 18, 2008, 4:36 PM
> Dear Scott,
> Should Hana Kim, then, be barred from protesting a decision
> made by the US
> Library of Congress simply by being Korean? For that
> matter, do you mean to
> argue that all Korean Studies librarians in North America
> of Korean descent
> are interfering with official US government policy because
> of their ancestry
> (or citizenship)?
> Following your logic, were a group of expatriates in the
> ROK to decide to
> protest the ROK government's decision to change visa
> regulations for English
> teachers, for example, they would also be
> "interfering" with ROK government
> policy.
> Regardless of your opinion on the US Library of
> Congress's decision - or
> anyone else's opinion, for that matter - your labeling
> of Hana Kim's email
> as "nationalistic spam" is much more
> inappropriate than any purported
> hypocrisy within the content of that email.
> Anne Hilton
> 2008/7/17 J.Scott Burgeson <jsburgeson at yahoo.com>:
> > Is there such a thing as political spam, or more to
> the point
> > nationalisitic spam? Of course there is -- even in the
> KS List, apparently!
> >
> > It is my understanding that the official position of
> the US government is
> > to remain neutral in the Dokto-Takeshima territorial
> dispute, since its
> > legal status remains contested from an international
> law standpoint. (And we
> > must note that the ROK has refused to resolve the
> matter in the
> > International Court of Justice for the last 5
> decades.)
> >
> > Thus, choosing the neutral name "Liancourt
> Rocks" by, for example, the the
> > U.S. Library of Congress, would seem to be a
> responsible reflection of this
> > more general position held by the US government.
> >
> > Is it not more than a little ironic, then, that while
> on the one hand most
> > South Koreans complain about Japanese interference
> with ROK national
> > sovereignty over the Dokto-Takeshima matter, Hana Kim
> has essentially
> > interfered with US national sovereignty by inserting
> herself so directly
> > into official US government policy?
> >
> > I for one am rather offended by such a hypocritical
> double standard.
> >
> > --Scott Bug

> > --- On Thu, 7/17/08, Hana Kim
> <hn.kim at utoronto.ca> wrote:
> >
> > > From: Hana Kim <hn.kim at utoronto.ca>
> > > Subject: [KS] Library of Congress Korean
> Controversy
> > > To: "Korean Studies Discussion List"
> <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
> > > Date: Thursday, July 17, 2008, 6:13 PM
> > > Dear Koreanists:
> > >
> > > As you may have heard, the Tok Island issue has
> recently
> > > spread its
> > > controversy all the way to the United States
> Library of
> > > Congress and all
> > > of our North American university libraries.
> > >
> > > As the Chair of the Committee on Korean Materials
> under the
> > > auspices of
> > > the Council on East Asian Libraries of the
> Association for
> > > Asian
> > > Studies, I head an organization of Korean Studies
> > > librarians in North
> > > America.
> > >
> > > Recently, we were shocked to learn that the U.S.
> Library of
> > > Congress had
> > > arbitrarily planned to officially change the
> existing
> > > subject heading of
> > > "Tok Island (Korea)" to the new heading
> of "Liancourt
> > > Rocks."
> > > Furthermore, within this new subject heading the
> existing
> > > broader
> > > explanation of "Islands Korea (South)"
> would be changed
> > > to "Islands of
> > > the Sea of Japan."  A closed Library of
> Congress meeting
> > > to ratify this
> > > decision was planned for July 16.
> > >
> > > Since this plan was not widely known, our
> organization took
> > > it upon
> > > ourselves to voice a strong protest to this
> sudden change,
> > > and also made
> > > the relevant South Korean governmental bodies
> aware of this
> > > situation.
> > > Thanks to the efforts of many parties, I am
> pleased to
> > > report that the
> > > Library of Congress has now officially postponed
> any
> > > decision on this
> > > matter until there is further international
> resolution of
> > > this issue.
> > >
> > > As Koreanists, I felt that you should be made
> aware of this
> > > matter, and
> > > I hope that you will actively make your own views
> on this
> > > matter known
> > > to the relevant parties.  In addition, I feel
> that this
> > > matter also
> > > requires the further study and deliberation of
> experts such
> > > as
> > > yourselves.  I hope that we may see much
> scholarly activity
> > > to elucidate
> > > this delicate issue.
> > >
> > > Should you require any more detailed information,
> I would
> > > be happy to
> > > share it with you.
> > >
> > > Sincerely,
> > >
> > > Hana Kim
> > > Chair, Committee on Korean Materials
> > > --

> ***************************************************************
> > >      Hana Kim, Korea Studies Librarian
> > >      Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library
> > >      University of Toronto Libraries
> > >      130 St. George Street, 8th Floor, Room 8049
> > >      Toronto, Ontario
> > >      Canada M5S 1A5
> > >      Tel.  (416)  978 1570 (7th Fl.) / 978  3805
> (8th Fl.)
> > >      Fax.  (416)  978  0863
> > >      Email: hn.kim at utoronto.ca
> > >      Web: http://www.library.utoronto.ca/east/

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