Korea makes final pitch to adopt East Sea name at IHO meeting
Korean delegates have intensified diplomatic efforts for an intergovernmental organization representing the global hydrographic community to include the name "East Sea" for the waters separating the Korean Peninsula and Japan, officials said Tuesday.
Seoul sent a 16-member delegation to the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) meeting this week to campaign for the concurrent use of East Sea and the current "Sea of Japan" appellation.
The five-day IHO meeting from Monday is aimed at revising global charts, including those that at present refer only to the Sea of Japan. Seoul wants revised charts to include the name East Sea as well as the Sea of Japan.
"The solution is a concurrent use of the name East Sea in accordance with rules by the IHO and the United Nations that two references should be written in parallel until an agreement is reached," said Paik Ji-ah, South Korea's chief delegate to the quinquennial meeting.
Since the last conference in 2007, South Korea has revved up its diplomatic campaign to press the IHO to concurrently use East Sea and Sea of Japan to refer to the sea at this week's meeting aimed at revising a key document titled "Limits of Oceans and Seas."
The IHO document is considered the basis of oceanic boundaries and names all over the world.
The naming issue is particularly sensitive for Seoul as Tokyo has continually stepped up efforts to claim the South Korean islets of Dokdo in the East Sea. South Korea keeps a small police detachment on the volcanic outcroppings.
South Korea has long campaigned for the adoption of its favored name for the waters that are widely termed the Sea of Japan, after Japan registered that as the official name with the IHO in the early 1920s, when Korea was under Japan's colonial rule.
The IHO published its first oceanographic chart for the region in 1929 and has since updated it three times, but each time, the body of water has been marked as the Sea of Japan.
Korean historians and experts believe the sea's original name was the East Sea, but that the term Sea of Japan became more widely adopted because Korea failed to properly counter Japan's campaign to change the name due to Korea's colonization by Japan and the 1950-53 Korean War. (Yonhap)