700 Essays From 27 Nations Vie in Contest
A few weeks ago, The Korea Times and the Northeast Asian History Foundation began an essay contest, inviting readers to submit articles on ``Why is Dokdo Korean territory?"
Readers from more than two-dozen countries, including the United States, Canada, Britain, India, Nigeria and China, submitted their writings. Overall, more than 700 essays were received.
Many of these submissions were first-rate, and that made it very challenging for the editorial staff and the screening committee to choose just five award winners.
Many readers pointed out in their essays that Korea has an enormous advantage on this issue because the country has actual possession of these islets: ``It has de facto possession of the islands and has undertaken a variety of infrastructure projects and improvements… international judicial bodies highlight establishing sovereignty through positive acts, especially when occupying a territory."
Many of these essays also highlighted historical documents _ and the fact that these ancient papers show Dokdo as Korean territory. They pointed to the 1877 Dajokan order and the 1900 announcement from the King Gojong in the Joseon Kingdom. Many also referred to historical records that say, in 512 A.D., Dokdo was incorporated into the ancient Silla Kingdom. Readers said Japan unjustly took the islets in 1905 and that the Japanese government had wrongly claimed that Dokdo was terra nullius _ territory that did not belong to any state.
Readers wondered why Japanese officials still lay claim to Dokdo despite all the evidence the contrary. They said even in Japan, there are old documents that describe Dokdo as Korean.
``Scholars have cited numerous maps as evidence, including a map produced by the Japanese cartographer Dabuchi Tomohiko. Japan's earliest record of the islets did not emerge until 1667," wrote Cheryl Devaney in her essay, which won the Grand Prize.
Devaney wrote: ``Surprisingly, this Japanese government document, Onshu Shicko Goki, according to the historical scholar, Shin Yong-ha, also describes Dokdo and Ulleungdo as Korean territory and Oki Island as Japan's westernmost territorial boundary."
``Existing Japanese and Korean government documents clearly indicate early Korean sovereignty," wrote Kenneth Maingot who won the Gold Prize. ``I contend that siding with truth does represent the fairest, most sensitive and objective solution. Dokdo is Korean territory," he said.
Silver Prize winner Harry Kim expressed concern over the ``revival of the Japanese imperialism in the recent years."
He said this new wave of imperialistic sentiment is ``sadly deplorable." He wrote Japan's territorial claim reflects a ``colonial legacy" in this 21st century post-colonial world of interconnectivity and globalization. Kim urged Japan to embrace a ``postcolonial sensitivity that is necessary for its superpower image in this world."
Bronze Prize recipient Dina Mahmoud ali mousa said Japan's ``erroneous, persistent claim" on these East Sea territories seems to be ``a distortion of the long-standing truth." She said, ``Korea's territorial rights cannot be shaken by any unfounded foreign claims."
Another Bronze Prize winner Abu Taher said Dokdo is a symbol of Korea's liberation and return to self-rule after World War II. ``It carries great symbolic importance. Historical evidence confirms that, based on the facts, Dokdo is Korean territory."