By Kim Se-jeong
A maritime dispute between Korea and Japan could come to an end quicker than expected.
According to a Korean scholar, Australia and France proposed last month that the sea between Korea and Japan be called both the East Sea and Sea of Japan.
Park Noh-young, a law professor at Korea University, told Yonhap News Agency over the weekend that the proposal was made during a recent meeting of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) in Singapore, last month.
The issue of sea naming has long put the neighboring countries at odds, adding complication to what’s already too difficult a relationship.
The professor welcomed the idea.
“It’s encouraging news,” for Korea, which had to struggle so hard just to address the issue to the international audience, Park said.
The IHO has the highest authority in naming bodies of water around the world.
On three significant occasions ― 1929, 1939 and 1953 ― it officially designated hydrographic names throughout the world, and at none of these occasions was Korea able to speak for itself.
The IHO task force dealing with the Korea-Japan maritime dispute was formed last July, and is currently carrying out research for a report due June next year.
In 2012, the issue will be discussed at the IHO’s general assembly meeting.
“There seems to be a technical gap between the French and Australian proposals, which is only trivial, and the two have fundamentally agreed on using two names,” the scholar said.
No immediate reaction was available from the Japanese side.
Park is the president of a privately-owned East Sea study group in Korea, having organized international seminars on sea names.
“It has contributed to raising the profile of the East Sea among scholars,” Park said.
Over the weekend, a Japanese scholar attended the 16th seminar in the Hague, the Netherlands, for the first time in 10 years, clashing with Korean scholars over the topic.
동해, 일본해 공존 할 듯
동해표기 문제를 둘러싼 일본과의 분쟁이 생각보다 빨리 타결될 가능성이 높아졌다.
한 국내 학자에 따르면 지난달 프랑스와 호주가 동해와 일본해를 동시에 쓰자는 제안을 했다.
고려대학교 법학전문대학교 박노영교수는 지난 주말 연합과의 인터뷰에서 지난달 싱가포르에서 열린 국제수로기구(IHO)에서 이 제안이 이루어졌다고 말했다.
동해 표기를 둘러싼 일본과의 분쟁은 이미 꼬일 대로 꼬인 관계를 더욱 어렵게 하며 한국과 일본을 불편하게 해왔다.