[KS] Library of Congress Korean Controversy

Steven Capener sotaebu at yahoo.com
Fri Jul 25 21:17:38 EDT 2008

Dear all,
Let me start by saying no personal offense is intended to anyone. However, am I the only one that finds this recent statement problematic? 
"Your message only supports and reinforces my suspicion and puzzle how unsympathetic the international opinion may be to Korea. That some of similar voices should come from those who are in Korean studies and should at least try to understand the Korean position puzzles me, though."
There are many reasons why 'international opinion' is often unsympathetic to Korea but that would take this discussion in another (probably unproductive) direction entirely. The second part of the assertion, however, is very relevant to this discussion and is a position I've encountered many times in Korean studies. This is the idea that in academic inquiry there is a 'Korean position,' not a conclusion naturally arrived at as the result of objective research. It is in effect starting with the conclusion one wants and researching backwads selectively to demonstrate that conclusion. This approach is most obvious in research done in Korea on the colonial period (particularly in history and literature). The other problem with this statement is the implication of a requirement of loyalty or sympathy to a position because it is Korean. 
It seems to me this approach to area studies would be a problem wherever it may be applied.      
Respectfully yours,
Steven D. Capener 

--- On Wed, 7/23/08, Young-Key Kim-Renaud <kimrenau at gwu.edu> wrote:

From: Young-Key Kim-Renaud <kimrenau at gwu.edu>
Subject: Re: [KS] Library of Congress Korean Controversy
To: "Korean Studies Discussion List" <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
Date: Wednesday, July 23, 2008, 2:29 PM

Dear David,

Your message only supports and reinforces my suspicion and puzzle how
unsympathetic the international opinion may be to Korea. That some of similar
voices should come from those who are in Korean studies and should at least try
to understand the Korean position puzzles me, though.

It is fine that you or anyone else considers a particular message spam mail,
“nationalistic” or not. I usually just delete, and never answer, any spam
mail I get, however irritating or preposterous it may be, and you should, too.
And many LIST members, who may agree with you and Scott in this case do,
wisely. It is probably why no one is responding to Scott’s two questions. 

I will say why I have not responded, against my own pledge not to get involved
in this type of “conversation,” because you seem to suggest that no
response possibly means nodding approval to his provocative (to Koreans and I
am sure, to many others) suggestions. Clearly what Scott says has the feel of a
“legal” argument. I am not a lawyer and am incapable of providing a good
“legal” response. However, I can still give my reaction to them as a lay
person with hopefully good common sense:

(1) The expression “terra nullius” does not apply to Tokto. The islets’
existence was long known and the place even had a name, however it was referred
to. Just because Japanese declared it had been “a land belonging to no one,”
does not make it so. It is like someone coming to an unoccupied home, and
claiming that it is theirs because it was left empty. Finally, it is noteworthy
that because of various obvious self-contradictions, the Japanese Foreign
Ministry’s website
(http://www.mofa.go.jp/region/asia-paci/takeshima/position.html) no longer
claims that Japanese incorporated Tokto as a “terra nullius.” How would you
contest the comments in the website (http://www.geocities.com/mlovmo/page4.html)

“The Cairo Conference of 1943 stipulated that ‘Japan will be expelled from
all territories which she has taken by violence and greed [since the time of
the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95].’ Considering Japan´s methods, there can
be little doubt that Japan´s annexation of Dokdo in 1905 (along with all other
Korean territories by 1910) falls within the definition of territories taken by
greed, as defined by the Cairo Declaration.”? 

How do you prove that Tokto incorporation had nothing to do with colonization
of Korea and the general expansion effort by Japan?

(2) It is true that the islets were left out in the Treaty of San Francisco,
most probably inadvertently because they were considered so insignificant at
that time, but in the absence of the reason why they were, I do not see why it
makes them “legally” still belong to Japan. I understand that common sense
and usual understanding always mean something legally even when things are not
clearly written down, especially when it seems to have been the general
understanding even by the Japanese that Tokto belonged to Korea.

In my last posting I referred to a very specific and what I considered
important website with a 1936 Map by the Japanese Army General Staff Office
(http://www.geocities.com/mlovmo/page27.html), which 

“places Dokdo and Ullungdo in the region of Korea. It is highly likely that
SCAP GHQ used maps like these when they decided to exclude Dokdo from the
Japanese territorial sphere.   These maps are a reminder of the commonly
accepted view of Dokdo´s sovereignty (in both Korea and Japan) prior to the
late 1940s and early 1950s.” 

(3) One more comment about the claimed “non-interference” and
“neutrality.” I also pointed out the opinion expressed in the geocities
site on “The United States' Involvement with Dokdo Island (Liancourt
Rocks): A Timeline of the Occupation and Korean War Era
(http://www.geocities.com/mlovmo/page9.html),” which includes the following

“Looking back at the Occupation and Korean War period (1945-1954), the
available evidence suggests that many of the key decisions related to Dokdo
were made by the United States, and not Korea or Japan.   As a result of the
decisions made by the United States in 1951, a basic framework for Korea-Japan
relations, including the Dokdo issue, was established.   The Japanese
government worked very hard in getting the U.S. government to recognize Dokdo
as Japanese territory during the process leading up to the signing of the San
Francisco Peace Treaty.   On the basis of this effort Japan began to publicly
lay claim to Dokdo.   American diplomats supported the Japanese position on
Dokdo until the mid-1950s. However, upon realizing that the Dokdo issue was a
potential tinderbox that was capable of disrupting Korea-Japan, Korea-U.S., and
Japan-U.S. relations, Washington began to feign a neutral position on this

So, how does this make the US so "neutral" and "fair"?

Now, David, why don’t you also ask why these various specific points
presented in the site (http://www.geocities.com/mlovmo/) that I threw to the
LIST for discussion are not commented on by the LIST members? 

>From 	David Scofield <D.Scofield at sheffield.ac.uk> 

Sent 	Wednesday, July 23, 2008 7:05 am
To 	jsburgeson at yahoo.com , Korean Studies Discussion List
<koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws> 

Subject 	Re: [KS] Library of Congress Korean Controversy

Scott has made some excellent points here (I think nationalistic spam sums the
original post quite well), and his queries (posted below) cut to the heart of
the dispute. 

I'm surprised there are no responses to his core questions... 

"1. It is frequently claimed that Japan "stole" the
Dokto-Takeshima islets in
1905, but from my understanding they were unoccupied at the time and thus Japan
invoked the principle of "terra nullius" in justifying its claim to
them. Is it
too much of stretch, then, to claim that their occupation was quite separate
from Japan's subsequent colonization of Korea?
2. The islets were not covered in the Treaty of San Francisco, so from a
strictly legal standpoint wouldn't the islands legally still belong to
Japan if
sovereignty over them was not legally and formally handed back to the ROK in
1952? Historical arguments aside, is not this lack of legal clarity sufficient
proof for the existence of a "dispute" which many on the Korean side
claim does
not exist?"

Quoting "J.Scott Burgeson" <jsburgeson at yahoo.com>:

> Gene, all I will say is that I retracted the term "spam" (even
though a
> certain someone has clearly avoided my request for dialogue on this
> and I wonder if I really seem to think that Dokdo-Takeshima is a
> "Neutral" is a loaded term now? What's next, being
"fair" and "objective"? As
> for "lobbying" for a foreign government, Hana Kim is not a US
citizen so what
> is a better term for me to have used in her case?  
> Around and around and around in circles we go!
> --Scott Bug
> --- On Tue, 7/22/08, Eugene Y. Park <eugene.y.park at uci.edu> wrote:
> > From: Eugene Y. Park <eugene.y.park at uci.edu>
> > Subject: Re: [KS] Library of Congress Korean Controversy
> > To: "Korean Studies Discussion List"
<koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
> > Date: Tuesday, July 22, 2008, 4:58 PM
> > Dear Scott,
> > 
> > I appreciate the spirit of your suggestions, but some of the
> > rhetorical terms" that have been used--"lobbying" and
"neutral," for
> > example--seem pretty loaded to me. And didn't this whole
discussion get
> > started on the questions about "nationalistic spamming"
over "non-issues"
> > and "lobbying?" Again I do not know Hana Kim, but to
suggest, for example,
> > that the hapless librarian was lobbying for a foreign government
> > like a serious charge to me. What do you think?
> > 
> > Of course, there's the islet question itself, on which I think
> > already had plenty of discussions here in the past, if I'm not
> > In this light, each of the two statements that you make (below) seem
> > oversimplify the frustratingly complex situation.

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