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The China Policy Institute of the University of Nottingham in Britain is running a blog symposium – cool idea! – this week on Asia’s territorial disputes. Here is the series page, and here is my submission. I’d like to thank the CPI blog director, my friend Jon Sullivan, for inviting me to submit. Not surprisingly, I was solicited to write on Dokdo/Takeshima/Liancourt.
Regular readers of my work will notice some of my preferred themes – that Korean claim is probably stronger; that a Japanese acceptance of that is nonetheless necessary to legitimate that sovereignty claim; that Korea wildly overblows the importance of this conflict because ‘anti-Japanism’ is central to modern South Korean identity.
The other entries in the series are worth your time if this area interests you. I was happy to participate. Below the jump is my contribution:
Korea and Japan have been locked in an on-again/off-again dispute over two small volcanic rocks in the Sea of Japan since the 1950s. In Korea, these two rocks are known as ‘Dokdo’ (독도); in Japan, they are called ‘Takeshima’ (たけしま). In the West, they are called the ‘Liancourt Rocks,’ after a French ship that nearly foundered there. For those new to the dispute, the Wikipedia write-up is actually pretty good, and some of its links are helpful. The literature on this issue in Korea (which I know best) is immense. The Korean government even supports a ‘Dokdo Research Institute.’
I have no definitive comment on proper ownership. In my experience teaching in Asia as an American, there is little value to westerners making determinate judgments. Americans particularly are often seen as a referee in this conflict, as the US is an ally to both Japan and Korea. Hence I think it very unwise for Americans to definitively take a side. The US government position is that Japan and Korea need to work it on their own. I follow that line myself, as do most of the Americans and westerners I know in this area.
As best I can tell from the historical data – which are themselves hotly disputed, of course – the Korean claim is probably stronger, but there is likely no way to seriously establish that. The Koreans control the island and will certainly not surrender it, barring a Japanese use of force, which is unthinkable due to the mutual alliances with the United States. But Japan is unlikely to accept Korean control as legitimate without arbitration to which the Koreans will not agree. Hence the stalemate.
The historical problem is that sovereignty as we understand today, with strict, mutually exclusive zones, did not really exist in Asia until the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries. There were borders, and Asia arguably had state-like bureaucracies before the West. But details like who exactly owned small, uninhabited rocks were simply not the focus of traditional Confucian governance and diplomacy. It is possible that some undisputed map from the 18th century or something will be unearthed that definitively settles the dispute, but I doubt it. In the end, even if Korea’s claim is stronger, the issue will not be resolved without some kind of agreement with Japan to legitimate it.
The Koreans do of course control the islets. To bolster its claim, the Korean government runs tours, stations police there, and routinely patrols the airspace. Seoul has also sought to change the international practice of using the term ‘Sea of Japan’ for the body of water between Korea and Japan to ‘East Sea.’ This is partly from Korea’s post-colonial, anti-Japanese nationalism, but it is also intended to bolster Seoul’s Dokdo claim by diluting the idea that the waters around Liancourt are ‘Japanese.’
Finally, it should be noted that the Japanese, for all the bluster coming from Seoul, have not actually pushed this issue much. The claim is formally maintained, and Shimane prefecture does celebrate ‘Takeshima Day’ on February 22. But there is little Japanese effort to change facts on the ground. Japanese fishing and naval vessels are not prodding the South Koreans. There is nothing like China’s behavior in the Paracels or Spratlys.
My own sense from Japanese colleagues is that Japan cares little for the issue. It makes for good politicking, and in the heated atmosphere of Japan-Korea relations today, it would be impossible for any Japanese politician to step back from the claim. But my own sense is that Japan holds to its Takeshima claim because it fears the ‘demonstration effect’ of flexibility on its other territorial disputes, with Russia and China, which are far more important. If Japan gives on Liancourt, Russia and especially China will push harder in their respective disputes. Given that an accidental Sino-Japanese clash over Senkaku is now a major regional worry, the Japanese will not budge on Liancourt.
The larger context on the Korean side of this flap is the intense Japanese focus of modern Korean nationalism. Japanese, Americans, and others have frequently noted the extremism of Korean rhetoric regarding Liancourt (here, here, here, here). One Korean president even ordered Korean ships to fire on Japanese ships near the islets; Seoul has also tried to include its Dokdo claim under the US-Korean defense treaty, which implies a possible American use of force against Japan. I have argued elsewhere (here, here, here) that much of this comes from the unique legitimacy challenge facing South Korea, as a half-country in contention with a mendacious, duplicitous national competitor.
Korean tension with Japan is obviously rooted in memory and territorial issues, but antipathy toward Japan also serves a national identity-building purpose in South Korea. The ROK (Republic of Korea) is trapped in a debilitating national legitimacy contest with the aggressively nationalist DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) which does not hesitate to play powerful nationalist cards against the South: South Korea is Hanguk, while North Korea is Joseon. South Korea is the bastardized, globalized, ‘Yankee Colony’ selling Korea’s heritage, folkways, and racial integrity to foreigners, while North Korea, despite its poverty, defends the minjok against its many predators, including Japan and the United States. To counter this narrative and the national confusion it generates, the ROK targets Japan instead the DRPK as the focal point of its state-building nationalism. If the ROK cannot be the anti-DPRK, then it will be the anti-Japan. And China, especially under Xi Jinping, clearly manipulates Korean disdain for Japan. But when Korea unites, the anti-Japan animus needed for the intra-Korean competition will be unnecessary. This is the long-term solution Korea-Japan tension.
Is there a Way Forward?
There is no dearth of proposals to improve Japan-Korea relations. Resolution of the territorial issue would help, but I believe that it is more the outcome than the cause. That is, the intensity of the Dokdo dispute stems not from the value of Dokdo itself, but from its symbolism for Korean national identity. Because South Korea defines itself against Japan (rather than against the DPRK), Dokdo has taken on an importance all out of proportion to its material value.
Seoul often seeks to deflect this critique with arguments about local natural resources or the seabed, but these are fairly transparent dodges. It is not at all clear that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) would allow control of Liancourt to project claims to the sea around it or to reset the overlapping exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of Korea and Japan. Liancourt is not traditionally understood as ‘habitable;’ it cannot support indigenous human life. How to define that could of course be disputed, which Korea would likely do if it came so far. (Here is a good treatment of the UNCLOS tangle in the Asia-Pacific.)
If I am correct, the Liancourt/Dokdo/Takeshima fight will remain locked in place indefinitely. The only two events that would break the deadlock – a Japanese climb-down or a North Korean collapse – are unlikely in the medium-term. And Seoul will regularly deploy the Dokdo tussle in its geopolitical and historiographic contest with Tokyo. If there is one upside to this mess, at least Dokdo humor is pretty funny.”
Updating Friends and Family in the Motherland
Considering you're probably moving at least a few thousand miles away from home, blogging is a great way to keep worried parents and curious friends updated on your adventures abroad. Social media sites are a great way to share photos and keep in touch, but blogging allows you to explain the stories behind those photographs and to paint a more accurate portrayal of your life as an expat. It's also a great way to make your friends jealous, or at least envious enough to make them want to pay you a visit.
Educating Yourself and Others
When you start a blog, you'll find yourself constantly wandering about the content of your next post. Such pressure to write about interesting tidbits- whether they be cultural observations, travel tips or personal experiences- will have you wanting to see more, read more and learn more. I'm fairly confident that the reason I've learned so much about Korea is because of this blog, a hobby that pushed me to get out and explore whenever I had the time to do so.
In addition to educating yourself, you have the power to inform others. If you keep at it and post consistently, you'll eventually earn a voice. A voice that can be heard by hundreds, if not thousands of internet users. What you use this power for is up to you, but to be able to raise awareness about particular issues or to shatter a stereotype about a culture evokes positive change, change that you can be responsible for.
Outlet of Self-Expression
Even if you choose not to promote your blog and instead keep it as a personal journal, the platform allows you to express yourself and your feelings. Sometimes this outlet is necessary when transitioning to a new country, or experiencing the ups and downs of the life of an expat. It's also interesting to be able to read previous writings and observe how both you and your outlook on the world change over time. It serves as a testament to how you grow as an individual.
One of the cool things about being a blogger in Korea, or a travel blogger in general, is that there is a strong network of fellow writers that exist online and offline. I have mixed feelings about the Korean blogosphere, but for the most part, I have also met some great friends through the hobby. It's not unusual for me to meet up with these blogging buddies for a drink, a photo walk, or even to collaborate on blogging projects. Put yourself out there, don't be afraid to reach out to others and soon enough, you'll have a slew of new friends to explore Korea with.
New Career Paths
Although I arrived in Korea with a nursing license, I have held positions as an English teacher, a social media marketer, a public relations coordinator, a travel consultant, a dialogue coach, an expo assistant, a travel show host, an editor and a writer. I can say that my blog has opened up most of these doors for me and has acted not only as a platform to gain exposure but through it, I've learned invaluable skills that I will no doubt use in my future career, whatever that may be.
Even if you're not looking to be a professional writer or an online marketing strategist, your blog will bring you down paths you never even knew existed.
Monetary Benefits and Blogger Perks
Sure, work experience and new friends are great reasons to start blogging, but let's be honest here, the tangible benefits are what most bloggers seek. I'll be the first to say that making money with a blog isn't easy; perhaps because profiting from Seoul Searching isn't the reason I write it, I don't really know how to monetize a blog the way professional bloggers do.
However, English blogs about Korea is a fairly untapped niche and Korea-based businesses are more than willing to provide you with perks in exchange for promoting them. While some find this controversial, I believe that if a post is honestly written and is clear in stating that it was sponsored, it's not only fair but beneficial for everyone, including the reader.
Additionally, there are a number of government-sponsored programs (including Global Seoul Mates, Worldwide Korea Bloggers, and K-Performance Supporters) that have been established to promote Korea. Bloggers can apply for these programs to participate in free trips, get access to events and even earn some really cool prizes in exchange for blog posts. Other sites, such as Trazy and the upcoming Omija Korea, offer monetary incentives and benefits such as free Korean classes. And for those living outside of Korea, the Korea Tourism Organization has even been known to sponsor airplane tickets to see and blog about the country.
The benefits of blogging about Korea are endless, so what are you waiting for? Start your blog today!
Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching unless otherwise noted. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.
If you’ve read my blog before you’ll know all about my love of food, especially my new-found love of Korean food. So imagine my excitement when I found, quite by accident, cooking classes for foreigners in Seoul. I immediately booked a class, excited not only for the experience, but also so that I could start to recreate my favourite meals at home. After all, I will at some point go back to England, and if I don’t know how to make Bibimbap by then it will be a disaster.
I wanted to share my experience of the cooking class, simply because it was one of the best, if not the best thing I’ve done in Seoul. It’s fun, interesting, and you learn something new, Oh, and you get a delicious meal at the end (how delicious will depend on your cooking skills, of course).
A little bit about the classes: they are run by The Food And Culture Academy and you can find their website here. The Academy is located in Jongno Gu, Seoul and directions can be found on their website. The prices range from 20,000 won to 65,000 won, and this includes: the price of the class, the meal at the end with some side dishes included, and a copy of the recipe you followed. There is a huge selection of cooking choices, including: Bulgogi, Bibimbap, Dakgalbi, Japchae, Mandu, Paejon, Gimbap, and different types of Kimchi. If, like us, you’d like to cook more than one thing, there is a 1 + 1 option.
Don’t worry if you’re not a talented cook- the website calls the class ‘An Intensive Cooking Class for Avid Cooks’, but this shouldn’t put you off, as it’s not a scarily serious or difficult class by any means. Two minutes into the class, I chopped straight into my finger while cutting an onion, so I didn’t exactly prove myself as a super-advanced cook by any means! There is a chef with you at all times to direct you and make everything simple and easy (luckily).
So we chose two things off the menu, cooking one first and leaving it to rest while we started on the second. This was a good way to do it, but also meant that at the end of the class we had not one, but two meals to eat. For someone with a big appetite like me, it was obviously great, but make sure you go feeling hungry!
How it works- the cook simply instructs you as you go through, step by step. It’s good because you can also ask questions about what you’re making, which is pretty interesting! We learnt a lot about the history of the food and the different variations throughout the country. And obviously the main benefit of having your own chef is that you’re closely guided as you cook. You’re not just given a recipe and left to work through it.
When you’ve finished, there’s an area for taking photos of you standing proudly with your food; you can even dress up in Hanbok if you choose, to feel even more Korean and properly get into the spirit of things. Then, there’s a separate eating area where you can sit and enjoy your food. It’s nice that you’re given a few side dishes, as it feels like sitting down in a restaurant for a proper meal.
So, if there was one thing in Korea that I’d recommend doing, whether you’re here on holiday or living here, it would be this cooking class. It’s excellently run, the staff are so friendly and helpful, and it’s a chance to learn about your favourite foods and how to recreate them yourselves. Most importantly, it’s a great way to eat and have fun; it sure beats going down to the local cafe!
To find out more, check their website and get yourself booked in to a class. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
Filed under: Food, Korea, Living
© KATHRYN GODFREY
Der Beitrag Die einflussreichsten Städte der Welt: Seoul auf Platz 16 erschien zuerst auf Mayerkim.
Reflective Teaching Blog Challenge – Day Six: What does a good mentor do? Explain.
Regardless of what field you’re working in, everyone should have a mentor. And it doesn’t matter where you are in the span of your work life either. Whether you’re at the beginning or the end of your career, you’re never too old to benefit from the wisdom and experience of someone else!
Good mentors offer everything from direct advice to subtle hints in order to help steer you in the right direction. They share openly and willingly about the good, the bad and the ugly sides of the job, and they explain how they’ve responded to all of it over the years. Good mentors keep you from drowning, but also know when you’re strong enough to save yourself. They too have learned from their own mistakes, and they understand the value in that. Good mentors offer words of encouragement and confirmation, along with constructive criticism and tough love. They’ve gone through the same highs and lows as you, so they totally get it when something is cause for celebration and they know how to lift you back up. In sum, a good mentor wears many hats: the puppet master, the shepherd, the storyteller, the teacher, the friend, the party planner, the therapist, the coach, the lifeguard, and more.
Standing at the beginning of (what could be) my teaching career, I am lucky enough to have several mentors in my corner. Some of them carry a lifetime of teaching wisdom while others offer years of general life experience. I am grateful for each and every one of them, and I plan to learn as much from them as I can, for as long as I can!
The second lead in Leesong Hee-il's queer film Night Flight, Lee Jae-joon, is quite a handsome fellow. Born in October of 1990, the only role he has been credited for so far on Daum Movies is as 기웅 in Night Flight.
After a seasonal hiatus in respect of sporting fixtures on weekends and travel trips over the spring and summer it is rapidly reverting to ideal hiking conditions in the Republic of Korea. As the weather cools and the leaves begin to turn and fall I find myself being drawn back to the escapist attractions of the Korean mountains. My return to the rocky tree-shrouded country landscape began on Hangeul Day (national holiday for the celebration of the Korean writing system) at Gajisan, a mountain that narrowly wins the honour of being the highest in the Yeongnam Alps, an area that I had heavily explored during the last winter.
I invited my Korean friend Mia along for the hike and we met in northern Busan at Myeongnyun station just after nine o’clock to catch the number 12 bus to Eonyang, a small town to the east of the Yeongnam Alps. I’ve taken the number 12 bus before and it was equally slow as before as it trundled out of Busan into Yangsan and then snaked its way slowly between the villages that lie north of Yangsan. When we eventually arrived in Eonyang around an hour and a half later our patience for public buses was stretched and we jumped in a taxi. Our taxi ride took us to the gates of Seongnamsa (or Seoknamsa as it should be romanized from the Korean 석남사). After readying ourselves we headed to a car park to the left hand side of the main entrance gate where a path began that would take us along a counter-clockwise route to the peak of Gajisan. As we passed a large group of hikers in the car park Mia immediately almost stood on a snake that slithered across the beginning of the path.
The route begins with a relatively shallow ascent and gradually steepens until the point that trail gives way to slightly more technical, partially eroded, and rocky route. Personally I found the whole route relatively easy but many of the hikers we passed were increasingly fatigued as we passed them. Mia also found the going a little tough and was generous enough to curse me repeatedly for bringing her along. A heap of verbal motivation and my adamance that it wasn’t so severe as some of the other routes in the Yeongnam Alps may or may not have helped. I was also rebuked for falsely advertising the actual peak. As sky gave way to rock and treeline I was vocal in my expression that ‘it’s not far now’ only to clamber upon a false peak with an ascent and a further climb to the actual peak visible another kilometre away.
The final climb brought us to the top of the 1240m peak but this was not even halfway through the actual hike, I chose not to mention this to my friend. At the top of Gajisan, on what was a warm and mostly clear autumn day, we were greeted with an incredible view across all directions. Mountain peaks and receding horizons contrasted with the bright blue sky as far as we could see. After queuing with other hikers for some mandatory photos we began the hike that followed the ridge north before stopping for a snack on one of the notable rocky outcroppings that overlooked the view towards Ulsan in the east.
The undulating ridge trail lasted for a few kilometres before we began the knee-bursting descent. Although not particularly steep it was certainly relentless with few plateaus. The ground was skiddy, the dried and crumbling mud providing a surface that required cautious attention. It was quite a relief to reach the outside grounds of the temple, neither of us had much desire to look inside and we followed the exit road to the main entrance gate and then crossed over to a small bus station. We had decided on our descent that we did not relish the long journey on the number 12 bus from Eonyang back to Busan so we decided to catch a bus from outside the temple to Ulsan KTX station and then take the rapid KTX service back to Busan. At the KTX station we even had twenty minutes to grab some cheap Korean food to fill our grumbling stomachs.
On reflection this is a good hike, it only takes in one remarkable peak and can be accomplished in half a day if you can keep a good pace up. The views from the summit are quite breathtaking, as much of those in the Yeongnam Alps are, if you are interested in the route we took you can check the GPS recording here: http://www.mapmyhike.com/workout/760095549 I am of the understanding that you can turn this into a longer hike that ends in Unmunsa a temple to the north-east although I think you would have to then travel to Miryang to find any suitable transport to any of the respective cities in the region.