[KS] Library of Congress Korean Controversy

J.Scott Burgeson jsburgeson at yahoo.com
Sun Jul 20 05:19:02 EDT 2008

I regret if I offended anyone by my usage of the word "spam" in reference to Hana Kim's email to the List, so I herewith retract that term in the hope that dicusssion can focus instead on the far more important historical issues concerning Dokto-Takeshima.

I do, however, object to the insinuation that I merely looked at someone's surname and that was enough for me to decide to call them "nationalistic." I've been a member of this List for many years and rarely if ever have I previously made such a charge, and certainly never in such a vulgar, shallow manner. To be clear: It is official US policy and has been for decades to be neutral in the Dokdo-Takeshima territorial dispute; thus, calling the adoption of a neutral name for those islets "arbitary" is certainly nationalistic because it suggests that official US policy itself is somehow illegitimate, i.e., by failing to fall in line with South Korean claims to the islets.

Perhaps my previous argument was overly academic in the sense that in truth, it does not bother me too much if South Korean interest groups want to lobby in the US for Dokto. What does irritate me greatly, however, is the insistance by South Korean nationalists that Japan has no right to state its own position on Dokdo-Takeshima in its own textbooks. Certainly that is an internal matter -- a matter of one nation's "sovereignty" -- and it is for Japan to decide if it is appropriate to do so or not. So let's just say that I'll agree that Hana Kim is welcome in my book to lobby for Dokdo all she wants, in the US or anywhere else, if she in turn is willing to recognize Japan's right to teach its own views on Dokto in its own schools. Deal?

Perhaps I am a little touchy on this subject because just several hundred meters from my home here in Seoul, South Korean nationalists are butchering pheasants in front of the Japanese Embassy, and as a fan of Japan, Japanese people and Japanese culture, this offends me very much.

Rather than focusing so much on the propaganda front, South Koreans should make sure that their historians have made an air-tight case for their claim to Dokto, because from what I have read so far, they really haven't.



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