Asian Seal Defends Dokdo
Former Asian swimming champ Cho Oh-ryun has embarked on a publicity campaign to speak out for Dokdo.
``We need to present a united voice and speak out for Dokdo. We need to have a unified effort, tell the world that Dokdo is indeed part of Korea," said Cho, the Korean swimming legend.
Last month, he accomplished a feat that would be difficult to achieve for someone half his age: the 56-year-old Cho swam around the islets 33 times, in an effort to honor the 33 Korean independence fighters who had signed the 1919 declaration of independence and to help publicize Korea's longstanding sovereignty over the islets.
Cho began his project on July 1 and completed all 33 laps around Dokdo by the end of the month. One lap around Dokdo is equivalent to swimming more than six kilometers.
``As I started my swim around Dokdo, Tokyo continued to stake a claim over these Korean islets and the United States was also taking a neutral stance over this issue. I felt that we Koreans need to make sure that we don't project a vulnerable image overseas and that we need to have a unified front in defending our land," he told the Korean media.
``I want to do my part to spread the word in the press and in the international community that Dokdo is part of Korea."
Cho's month-long swim around Dokdo has attracted attention from the online communities as well, with numerous Internet users posting words of encouragement for the Korean swimming legend.
His last lap around the islets was even broadcast on the Internet, thanks to help from Web-based journalists and reporters.
``I've been planning and preparing for this project all this year and I am glad to be able to complete the project," Cho told reporters.
``I think the best way to help defend Dokdo is to attract more attention to this issue and to express our commitment to this land," he said.
Over the years, he has been active in promoting Dokdo as part of Korean territories. Cho, whose nationally recognized nickname is the ``Asian seal," won two gold medals in the Asian Games in the 1970s and has remained one of Korea's best-known swimmers.