Oh, East Sea
By Choi Yearn-hong
Our sea lost its name
Into the waves of Japanese imperialism
At the turn of the century,
After we lost our own names.
But the Japanese imperialists are defending the
Sea of Japan
With Matteo Ricci and other mapmakers.
They don't want to know the historical facts,
"East Sea emerged 600 years before Japan emerged in the world."
They don't want to see many ancient maps showing
East Sea, Oriental Sea, Joseon Sea, and Korea Sea.
Listen, the Japanese imperialists!
The sea is our commons.
Do you know the tragedy of the commons?
The sea makes the Earth beautiful,
Living, Green and Blue.
Do you see the Earth
As we see?
We don't claim an exclusive use of East Sea
Over the Sea of Japan.
We are humbly asking for the dual name of East Sea/Sea of Japan
Or Sea of Japan/East Sea
On the waters in between Japan and Korea.
A shared sea should keep a shared name.
Don't you think so?
My fellow human beings,
You use your cognitive power.
You use your reasoning power
To change the ugly course of history
From the Imperialism into the peaceful sailing
Of our blue sea.
What's our lives for?
We should search for the beauty of justice-as-fairness
For the humankind
And for the sea.
The writer, the founding president of the Korean Poets and Writers Group in the Washington Area, has published one poetry book, Autumn Vocabularies (Writers' Workshop, 1990), and four poetry books in Korean language. His poems have been appeared in the PoetryUSA, PEN International, Poets' West, Mildred, Wyoming, Washington Post, World & I among others, and were translated into Portuguese and published in Brazil. He reviews the Korean literature for World Literature Today.