[KS] Reply to Mr.Capener

Timsanglee at aol.com Timsanglee at aol.com
Sat Jul 26 10:43:23 EDT 2008

Dear Steven, 
Can you explain what you mean by the Korean position?  I think folks on this 
list are pretty  clear about what Young-Key means when she speaks of a Korean 
position on the  Tokto issue.  But I doubt she means  there is a Korean 
position on every controversial issue in Korean Studies.   
Second, nothing in Young-Keys post suggests she feels loyalty  to a Korean 
position is a de rigueur for every card-carrying  member of this list.  To be  
sure, she bemoans the unsympathetic reception Korean views have received in  
international arenas and especially on a list like this, which is  supposedly an 
intellectual watering hole for folks interested in things  Korea.  Clearly 
what she calls for  is not loyalty or sympathybut empathyfor Korean views.  In 
by book, empathy is a necessary  skill for any scholar studying any historical 
subject.  How receptive would Jewish scholars be if  someone insists on having 
an objective debate on whether the Holocaust actually  happened on a national 
television?  Or how receptive African-American scholars would be if someone 
wrote an  economic analysis that purports to show objectively that African 
slaves were  actually quite well off in their slavery in the deep  south. 
Tim Lee 
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 

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 Scotts 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 

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 

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 

that because of various obvious self-contradictions, the Japanese Foreign

Ministrys 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 


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 Japans methods, there can

be little doubt that Japans annexation of Dokdo in 1905 (along with all other

Korean territories by 1910) falls within the definition of territories taken 

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 Dokdos 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., 

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 dont 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 

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 

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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