Japan from the inside out

Seoul’s choice: Busan or Takeshima

Posted by ampontan on Monday, July 21, 2008

SOON OR LATE, South Korea will have to choose which paradigm to apply for its relations with Japan. They have two choices, both of which can be represented by geographical entities.

One choice is Busan, a city of more than three million on the southeastern part of the Korean Peninsula. It lies only 140 miles away from Fukuoka City in Kyushu across the Sea of Japan. Kyushu is the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands and has a population of roughly 13 million people.

The other choice is Takeshima, a group of islets in the Sea of Japan claimed by both countries. (The South Koreans call the islets Dokto.) The islets have a combined area of 187,450 square meters, or 46 acres. In contrast, Central Park in New York City covers 843 acres.

The Busan Choice

Cross-strait relations between Busan and Kyushu have thrived for more than a millennium. The interaction between Kyushu and southeastern Korea was so extensive that some scholars in both countries consider the region as a whole to have been one cultural sphere. The sea route between the two areas was the avenue through which Chinese culture entered Japan. Until the end of the 8th century, Kyushu (and the Japanese imperial court) interacted more extensively with the Baekche and Silla kingdoms than it did with the Japanese northeast.

Today Busan is South Korea’s second-largest city and most important port. It is the hub of Korean logistic operations, has an advanced commercial and industrial infrastructure, and is the center of the country’s offshore fishery industries.

Meanwhile, Kyushu accounts for 10% of Japan’s GDP. Standing alone, the region’s GDP exceeds that of both The Netherlands and Australia.

Earlier this month, it seemed as if the South Koreans under new President Lee Myung-bak would put the demagoguery of predecessor Roh Moo-hyun behind them and choose the Busan paradigm. One of Mr. Lee’s campaign promises was to support the creation of a super-regional economic zone that would include both Busan and Kyushu.

Two weeks ago, he met with a group of representatives of regional Japanese newspapers, including President Kawasaki Takao of the Nishinippon Shimbun, to discuss bilateral ties. He told them his government planned to hold discussions in the second half of the year to begin the steps to create the economic zone.

It was the first time Mr. Lee mentioned the scheme publicly since the election. He said:

“Korean-Japanese relations will develop with the formation of a joint economic zone. Busan and Kyushu in particular are already an economic zone, so we look forward to its realization in concrete terms.”

The private sector and local governments in both countries have pushed the idea for several years, but real hope for its success emerged when the South Korean government said it would make it their official policy.

The president also said that regional competition would benefit South Korea by stimulating domestic competition. He added that Busan-Kyushu ties were a win-win relationship with great potential. During his campaign, he asserted that real exchange with Kyushu was necessary to make the greater region competitive with Seoul, Tokyo, and Shanghai.

He envisions a super-regional economic zone contributing to the growth of venture capital-funded firms and technology transfer centers. It would become a center for financial markets and region-specific financing, and enhanced cooperation in tourism and cultural exchanges.

For leaders in business, academic, and government circles in both regions, Mr. Lee was preaching to the choir. They’ve been getting ready for just this opportunity for a long time. Here are some steps taken just before and just after Mr. Lee’s press conference with the Japanese.

Interregional Cooperation

  • Business and academic leaders formed the Fukuoka-Busan Forum in 2006. It has been meeting regularly to examine policies for strengthening ties and creating a super-regional economic zone. It met again at the end of last month.
  • At a meeting in Busan on 24 June, Busan Mayor Hur Nam-sik and Fukuoka City Mayor Yoshida Hiroshi agreed to issue a joint declaration in August calling for the creation of a super-regional economic zone encompassing Kyushu and the southeastern part of South Korea. They also planned to continue meetings to establish a set of priorities for the effort.
  • Universities from both regions made arrangements to form a consortium this August for the mutual recognition of academic credits.
  • Last week on the 16th, the Kyushu Investment Support Association was launched with the participation of 20 companies and groups from Japan and South Korea to provide assistance to South Korean companies wanting to establish a presence in Kyushu. Association members include the Fukuoka City-based Kyushu Economic Federation, the Fukuoka City branch of the South Korean Shinhan Bank, and the Nishi-Nippon City Bank. South Korean companies are boosting their investments in Kyushu’s manufacturing industry, so the association brings together professionals from such fields as Japanese law, intellectual property rights, and employment to provide those companies with expert information.

According to the Shinhan Bank, the sharp increase in companies wanting to invest in Kyushu has been driven in part by the appreciation of the won. The bank plans to set up Kyushu Investment Support Centers in all its branches this month.

  • The Kansei Value Creation Department of Kyushu University’s User Science Institute announced it will conduct joint research with Dongseo University of Busan. Their objective is to improve the design of four transportation hubs in both countries to create more aesthetically pleasing and ergonomically efficient facilities. One will be the international terminal at the Port of Hakata. The researchers also expect to employ new survey methods to discover the potential needs of the facilities.
  • As it is, more than 800,000 people now use the Port of Hakata every year to travel by high-speed jetfoil to Busan. The service is so successful that a new sea route to Busan was opened in June from the Port of Moji in Kitakyushu immediately to the north.
  • Finally, Korean Air Lines announced it will add another daily round-trip flight between Fukuoka City and Busan starting 1 September. The airline already operates one daily round-trip. The additional flight will allow more businesspeople in Fukuoka to commute to Busan for day trips on the 50-minute flight. The route is frequently used by personnel from Japanese businesses in Kyushu from the auto parts and steel industries.

The Korean About-Face

One week after Mr. Lee met with the reporters, however, the Korean attitude abruptly changed when the Japanese education ministry added a couple of sentences to its curriculum guidelines.

The ministry’s instruction manual for teachers, which is due to take effect in 2012, directs them to handle “the Northern Territories as part of our nation’s territory.” That is a reference to the four Japanese islands seized by the Soviet Union after Japan surrendered in World War II. The manual also asks teachers “to provide a deeper understanding of our nation’s territory” by handling the Takeshima islets “in a manner comparable to that used in dealing with the Northern Territories.” It also suggests that the teachers discuss the conflicting territorial claims between Japan and South Korea.

This is the first mention of the Takeshima issue in the manual. The phrasing in the final version was softened to avoid ruffling Korean feathers by stopping short of calling Takeshima “an integral part of our nation’s territory.” The South Koreans, however, had asked Japan not to mention Takeshima at all.

South Korean Unilateralism

South Korea currently occupies the islets in violation of international law. As part of the San Francisco Peace Treaty at the end of World War II, Japan was forced to relinquish specified territories it seized or colonized in the first half of the 20th century. It was allowed to keep the remaining unspecified territories, Takeshima among them.

But the South Koreans occupied Takeshima on 2 September 1954 using military force. Japan did not resist, and the Koreans knew they would not; the Japanese Constitution relinquishes the right to use military force for national aims. (The Japanese cannot even agree if they have the right to self-defense; the Defense Ministry claims it does because it is not specifically denied in the Constitution. Speaking of this ambiguity, Defense Minister Ishiba said at a press conference, “…if the case occurred tomorrow that a suspicious boat appeared off the coast of the Noto Peninsula, there would arise the question: ‘Shall we chase after it as a violation of the Fisheries Law again?’”

Japan suggested that the two countries submit the case to the International Court of Justice, but the South Koreans refused. For them, it seems, might makes right.

They have been more accommodating at times. Five months before the Japanese and the South Koreans signed the 1965 Treaty of Basic Relations restoring ties between the two countries, the governments reached a secret agreement about Takeshima.

The agreement stipulated that:

  1. Both countries recognized that the other claimed the islets as their own territory, and neither side would object when the other made a counterargument.
  2. They would regard it as a problem that would have to be resolved in the future.
  3. If any fishing territories were demarcated in the future, both countries could use Takeshima as their own territory to mark the boundaries. Those places where the two lines overlapped would be considered joint territory.
  4. The status quo in which South Korea occupied the islets would be maintained, but the Koreans would not increase their police presence or build new facilities.
  5. Both countries were to uphold that agreement.

Rather than abide by the agreement, however, South Korea stationed security guards on Takeshima and increased its presence, adding lodgings, a lighthouse, a monitoring facility and an antenna. In November 1997, despite repeated protests by Japan, they built a docking facility to enable use by a 500-ton supply ship. They built a manned lighthouse in December 1998.

The secret agreement was reported by the South Korean monthly magazine Joongang last year. The magazine also reported that the only copy of this agreement was burnt when it was discovered among President Park Chung-hee’s papers after his assassination.

In contrast to the bellicosity and lack of respect for diplomatic convention demonstrated by the South Koreans over the years, Japan’s approach has been markedly benign. To have teachers simply bring up the Japanese claim in the school curriculum—starting four years from now—while also mentioning the Korean claim, is neither belligerent nor an insult to Korean statehood.

The Takeshima Choice

South Korea stands to reap substantial benefits from continuing to strengthen ties with Japan, yet their response to the mild revisions of the instruction manual–none of their business to begin with–could be characterized by calling it the Takeshima paradigm. Their actions in the week since then resemble nothing so much as a group of high school students restaging the Marx Brothers’ political satire Duck Soup, this time as a soap opera.

In his role as Rufus T. Firefly, the ruler of the mythical Freedonia, Groucho Marx created a running gag by reacting to anything and everything with the statement, “Of course you realize this means war!” Now consider the South Korean reaction.

  • Their first step was to recall their ambassador to Japan, Kwon Chul-hyun, back to Seoul.
  • The Japanese suggested that the foreign ministers of the two countries meet to discuss the issue. The South Koreans wouldn’t hear of it.
  • In an astonishingly incongruous step, Seoul beefed up security around the islets, even though Japan has never used, or threatened to use, military force since the end of the war.
  • Prime Minister Han Seung-soo went so far as to accuse Japan of risking regional peace over the issue.

“This is not only damaging the amicable South Korea-Japan relationship… but also undermining peace in Northeast Asia by letting the future generations repeat the distorted history,” Han said.

Rufus T. Firefly: “Of course you realize this means war!”

  • The South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry postponed indefinitely the discussions on a bilateral free trade agreement. President Lee and Prime Minister Fukuda agreed during an April summit to find a way to resume negotiations over an economic partnership agreement. That likely includes the economic zone in the south.
  • South Korea’s ruling party now wants to build a hotel on the islets to show they aren’t really uninhabited. Unassisted survival is impossible there—no arable land, no water—but the Korean government foots the bill for keeping two people in residence.

Other Reactions

The Koreans have let the issue affect other aspects of the bilateral relationship.

  • The cities of Kitakyushu and Incheon were going to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their sister city ties this summer. Not any more, they’re not. Incheon notified Kitakyushu that it would be unable to participate.

They sent a fax to the Kitakyushu municipal offices.

  • Bucheon suspended its friendship activities with Okayama City. The two municipalities have sent delegations to each other since 2002. A 60-person group from Bucheon was scheduled to visit Okayama for three days in August. Not any more, they’re not.

The Okayama City mayor says the decision was regrettable, but hopes that the activities can resume in the future.

  • The city of Tsushima in Nagasaki has held the Arirang Festival every year since 1980 to stage a recreation of the dispatch of Korean envoys to Japan. (Arirang is the name of a Korean folk song.) Representatives from their sister city, the district of Yeondo in Busan, were to participate, as they have every year. Not any more, they’re not.

Event organizers said they thought it was unfortunate that the South Koreans weren’t coming, but said they thought it was a temporary phenomenon and would wait until the fuss blows over.

  • Tottori City has been conducting an exchange program for junior high school students with the city of Cheongju. This year, a group of South Korean junior high school students were scheduled to visit. Not any more, they’re not. Cheongju notified Tottori it would be unable to participate for the foreseeable future.

They sent a fax to the Tottori City municipal offices.

Said the Tottori mayor: “It’s regrettable that a political problem should interfere with the exchange of junior high school students.”

Said a Metro spokesman:

“Having condom ads in a public space might not be acceptable for some people. Secondly, there is an anti-Japanese sentiment brewing among citizens over the Dokdo issue.”

Rufus T. Firefly: “Of course you realize this means war!”

  • Before Ambassador Kwon returned to Seoul, he visited the Japanese Foreign Ministry offices in Tokyo.

He told reporters:

“I lodged a strong protest and called for a prompt correction. I pointed out what was wrong and what Japan loses from this.”

Well, what does Japan lose from this? Closer ties were supposed to be a win-win situation, according to President Lee. Doesn’t the Korean response make this a lose-lose situation?

Except that South Korea loses much more than Japan does. It no longer has the opportunity to benefit from preferential economic ties with a nation that has more than twice as many people, and which also happens to be the world’s second-largest economy.

The creation of a super-regional economic zone would boost Busan’s domestic competitiveness as well as that of the two regions in East Asia.

On the other hand, Japan loses condom advertising in Seoul subways.

Perhaps the greatest loss suffered by South Korea is the loss of its credibility. Here’s a Korean Times article describing what’s happening around the world:

The U.S. Library of Congress, the largest library in the world that also serves as a research division for Congress, has been mulling over whether it should stop using the name Dokdo in its authoritative guidelines distributed to libraries around the country. (It is considering using) the name Liancourt Rocks (which) comes from French travelers who first introduced the East Sea islets to Europe…

Even in the online world, an increasing number of web sites are embracing the English name Liancourt Rocks over Dokdo….

Yonhap reported that as “a result of Japanese lobbying,” a growing number of Web sites and online references around the world are deciding to stop using the Korean name Dokdo when referring to the islets.”

Some of the major online dictionary sites and Internet portals that stopped using the name Dokdo include,, and, Yonhap reported.

Yonhap of course did not report that South Korean lobbying was the reason those sites used the Dokto name to begin with. They also did not report that people around the world have grown so tired of bogus Duck Soup claims about Takeshima, the real name of the Sea of Japan (supposedly the East Sea), and the English spelling of Korea (supposedly Corea, thereby gaining an alphabetical edge), that Koreans are increasingly being tuned out.

Just imagine what would happen if the rest of the world found out the Koreans think the real name of the East China Sea is the West Sea.

Some sympathy must be extended to South Korean President Lee. His election represented a return of adult leadership to the Blue House and a mature approach to bilateral relations with Japan. But he likely feels compelled to shore up his popular support, which pancaked when his countrymen were infuriated by his decision to resume the import of American beef.

Clearly, he has to deal with a national polity that is immature and prone to tantrums, which limits his opportunities for statesmanship. He has warned politicians in the National Assembly not to use the issue for personal political advantage, but there’s not much he can do in the face of popular delusion.

His preference in bilateral relations with Japan must almost certainly be that of choosing the adult option of the Busan paradigm. How can he be held responsible for those of his countrymen who prefer the childish option of the Takeshima paradigm?

All he–and Japan–can do now is wait for the rest of South Korea to grow up and allow the natural trend for closer Busan-Kyushu ties to reassert itself on a larger scale.

However long that will take.

75 Responses to “Seoul’s choice: Busan or Takeshima”

  1. kimchi2000 said

    poor japan! only if they could develop some sort of technology to fullfill their wet dream of moving their island right next to blue eye and blonde hair folks in europe.

  2. Bender said

    Wait for toadface/frogmouth to come here again and paste his queer theory and start insulting people.

  3. Ken said

    Another Korean reaction: the boycotting goods for consumption made in Japan as follows;
    As far as they boycott, they should do to all products including goods for production.

    Korea is going to be net debtor country in a few months and will face econmony crisis.§code=300
    Only Japan helped Korea at the last crisis but even she shall not this time.

  4. Aceface said

    Check this Bender.

  5. Lana said

    Well foreign investment is leaving Korea at rapid speed because of their childish policies and attitude. Why put up with all of that mess when you can go to China, India, Vietnam, Taiwan or….Japan?

    There’s just too many options for investors to put up with that foolish behavior, attitudes, society, trade practices and government that is S.Korea.

    They’d be okay if they’d give up living in the days of the ‘hermit kingdom’.

  6. Shamalamadingdong said

    Koreans make me laugh. They behave like spoiled brats who need a good spanking. What’s really funny is that every time someone points out that plain fact, they get upset and throw a tantrum, thus proving that they are, in fact, spoiled brats who need a good spanking.

  7. […] looks into the Japan and South Korea relation and summarizes it into two paradigms: Busan or Takeshima (or Dukto). Posted by Oiwan Lam Share […]

  8. Topcat said

    Koreans are the people who make the worst choice at the worst time. Sigh …..

    Why don’t they worry about the economic situation of their country instead of slaughtering phesants (Japan’s national bird) in front of Embassy of Japan in Seoul?

    Korea’s economy on the edge of the p …..

  9. RYO said

    Topcat: “Koreans are the people who make the worst choice at the worst time.”

    I wouldn’t go that far. Palestinians are quite famous for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

  10. Joyfulnotreally said

    Japan needs to get rid of its conservative assholes still in government. Always getting on people’s nerves.

    You may be right that Korea wouldn’t have the same economic opportunities with the strained relations, but what nation would sacrifice respect/pride over economic development? Once you lose your respect, then you lose everything. Get that? You become a pushover, a pussy.

    You don’t need to write some long-ass article about politics, economy, and all that other stuff to prove that you’re educated and well-informed. Stop thinking in such a complicated way. Use your brain to think about a simple concept: No nation wants to be a pushover.

  11. Bender said

    but what nation would sacrifice respect/pride over economic development?

    All nations but the overly nationalistic ones. Korea, for one.

  12. Blink said

    Commenters like #3-6,11 are 50% of the reason that Japan-Korea relations are so poor. Commenters like #1 make up the other 50%.

    Act snooty, stuck up, and vastly superior if you will but in a relationship it takes 2 to tango and Japan is hardly any more mature than Korea (or any other nation for that matter), simply more experienced on modulating its global image (which it ought to be for all the experience Japan gathered loudly romping around the Asian continent from the 1920-1940s, then getting publicly slapped by the US armies, then having to spend the next few decades looking contrite since Western powers were looming over its shoulder).

    It’s amusing to see so many oh-so-superior Japanese nationalists snubbing Korea’s nationalism – pot kettle black anyone?

    As an afterthought to #11: I personally don’t think and am saddened that you think Japan would be pathetic enough to choose economic development over national pride. If Japan did – it would called SELLING OUT and I dunno, giving up their culture, being pushovers, being pussies, take your pick. Japan isn’t any of those.

    After all, national pride was the driving force behind the success of the Japanese military in the Pacific War. Japan’s national pride is also what drew Japan together to achieve the vast technological achievements it made pre-1920s and what brought Japan together again post-WWII. Just as national pride kept Korea a country even after 30+ yrs of annexation and what turned Korea from a war razed country to a modern one in less than 60 years. National pride is what keeps countries together and gives countries strength in times of trouble, when their cultural identity is at the risk of being wiped out.

    “Overly” nationalistic? That’s the only reason Japan and Korea exist on the map today.

  13. Bender said

    The likes of you who can’t distinguish “national pride” with “blind nationalism” amazes me. I wonder how Nazi Germany fell, as well as the Japanese Empire.

  14. Baltimoron said

    All I would add to Ampontan’s account are the funds and FDI commitments successive ROK governments have received from Japan-usually in separate unpublicized agreements (1965: $500 million; 1981: $6 billion; 1983: #4 billion in ODA commitments)-and the huge trade deficits ROK continues to pile up with Japan. The only question now is, what is Seoul’s price in 2008? ROK wants respect for its “economic miracle”, which seems only to have benefited a few at the expense of the overworked many, according to the OECD, but if that’s the case, it should never have whored for US and Japanese aid.

    I also find it ironic, that following the end of WW2 and the American Occupation in Japan, there has always been a prominent peace faction in Japan, that wanted to put Japanese imperialism aside, while conservatives also perceived economic relations and the fostering of international organizations, like the UN and development organizations, as a way to improve Japan’s image. However, ROK’s saber-rattling only excites the conservative, unilateral faction to remilitarize and forgo transnationalism. Japan shows restraint to underscore ROK’s irresponsibility and ROK just keeps milking its tantrums for handouts and its own domestic political consumption. ROK’s febrile nationalism just fulfills its own nightmare.

    I would also point out that ROK’s nationalistic response to the possible existence of hydrocarbon assets in the disputed zone contributes to a prevalent opinion in many capitals, including Washington, thwarting consensus about the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas. South Korean neanderthals take it that might makes right, and they are also Bush-lite.

    Thanks, Ampontan, for the work on a subject that’s clearly exasperating to have to revisit.

  15. […] weighs in on the Liancourt Rocks issue with an excellent post offering a solution to the Japan-ROK impasse between the Busan or Takeshima […]

  16. King Baeksu said

    “No nation wants to be a pushover.”

    Except, of course, when one of its tourists is murdered by the state of a neighboring country, which is then perfectly happy to blame the homeland of the murdered tourist for her death!

  17. Topcat said

    To Blink

    “After all, national pride was the driving force behind the success of the Japanese military in the Pacific War.”

    “Just as national pride kept Korea a country even after 30+ yrs of annexation and what turned Korea from a war razed country to a modern one in less than 60 years. ”

    You seem to know only little about the modern history of East Asia. Who do you think banned the export of oil to Japan just before Pacific War? Don’t you know how America and Japan have been supporting South Korea until today?

    Koreans pride has always been opium to hinder them from seeing things practically. Is there any other country in Asia than South Korea who has been given various aid by America and Japan for decades and is going broke again due to her too strong (or ridiculous) pride?

    1st – At the end of Lee Dynasty
    (Japan took over all the debts of Lee Dynasty b e f o r e the annexation)
    2nd – After Korean War
    3rd – 1997
    4th – 2008?

  18. Ken said

    I wonder which the commenter 12 is, brain-washed by Korean invented (hi)story or ignorant of history around Japan and Korea.

    Korean-Americans set up ‘Takeshima Preservation Committee’ to provide info about Japanese action for Americans.

    Asahi Shimbun, the most left newspaper in Japan, had shown sympathy for Korea compared with Sankei and Yomiuri as follows.
    But Korea dispatched veterans protesters to Tsushima of Japan to declare Tsushima is Korean territory.
    Then, even the magazine of Asahi cannot but say, “Enough of your childish behaviors”, as follows.

  19. Joyfulnotreally said


    So now you’re comparing the ROK with Nazi Germany and the Japanese Empire? That made my day. Hoo hoo. Hee hee. Funny.

  20. Bender said

    Well, the reason why other countries should pay heed to Korean pride while Koreans can vent their nationalistic steam unrestrained is beyond me. Are you guys Übermenschen of some sort?

  21. Samalamadingdong said

    Blink: you need to wake up to the fact that this isn’t “Korean nationalism vs. Japanese nationalism.” The whole world regards both Koreas as volatile, unpredictable, proud beyond all reason, overly sensitive, etc. North Korea is regarded to exhibit these qualities only a little more than South Korea.

    Also: um, national pride led to the economic development of South Korea?? Really? Maybe it was the US and Japan supporting an anti-communist South Korean government that had something to do with it? Just maybe? You think that a small country with a relatively small population and few natural resources could have developed the kind of economy it now has without massive assistance from powerful players? You really do? Read a few history books that weren’t written by Koreans.

    Oh, and I’m not a “Japanese nationalist.” I’m not Japanese and have never been to Japan.

  22. mac said

    > Oh, and I’m not a “Japanese nationalist.” I’m not Japanese and have never been to Japan.

    It does not matter. If you are not Korean and don’t agree with them … you are a still Japanese nationalist.

    Ever tried editing a Wikipedia article on anything remotely to do with Korea or Korean-Japanese issues? Ha! The Korean Americans must be the most whacked editors on that website … As for the Dildo Islands … the Wiki calls them Liancourt Rocks.

    Did I miss a review of this … Korean protests escalate to new levels as A NEW THREAT TO NATIONAL SECURITY IS DISCOVERED!!!!

    … Pheasants.

    So they hammered to death nine pheasants (the green pheasant is the national bird of Japan) then bombed the Japanese embassy grounds with the bird bodies. After cutting off the birds heads, protesters dripped the birds’ blood onto Japanese flags and pictures of Japanese politicians then chewed their guts. The birds’ that it, not the politician (… well, not yet anyway).

    The sick joke is that our poor feathered friends were obviously Korean pheasants in the first place. I suppose it make a change in the menu from the dog heads they had out on the street in March last year;

    … or the live two-month-old piglet.

    I only hope the Korean chapter of PETA is going to be equally rabid in their defence of animal rights.

  23. toranosuke said

    Thanks, ampontan, for this very detailed, professional-sounding, post.

  24. […] Ampontan had some excellent commentary on the Dokdo mess and why Korea has a choice between mutually beneficial relations and shooting itself in the […]

  25. ChoSeungHui said

    “poor japan! only if they could develop some sort of technology to fullfill their wet dream of moving their island right next to blue eye and blonde hair folks in europe.”

    Totally agree. I mean, can you really blame Japan? Jesus, if I had to live next to a peninsular nation full of beings who scream like retarded chimps every time someone says that kimchi smells, I would definitely want to get away as far as possible. Hell, I don’t think they really care if it is next to blue eyed/blonde hair folk in Europe…I think Japanese wouldn’t mind being moved next to Somalia or Antarctica…as long as it is on the opposite end of the earth from the rabid chimps on the peninsula.


    Why does Japan have earthquakes while Korea has Koreans?


    Japan had first pick. LOL

  26. ChoSeungHui said

    On the racism, bigotry, and barbarism scale:

    Average Korean on the street >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> German Neo Nazi, Uyoku Nationalist, Ku Klux Klan member combined.

  27. Joyfulnotreally said

    I love this debate.

    It brings all the racists together.

  28. Joyfulnotreally said

    To ChoSeungHui,

    Grow up.

    In fact, grow the fuck up.

  29. ChoSeungHui said

    If Takeshima didn’t exist the South Koreans would eventually invent it. They can’t stand not being able to vent their inferiority complex ridden hatred of others. I’m convinced that it’s pretty much part of their intrinsic genetic character. Probably handed down from 5000 years ago from that bear from whom they claim to be descended. LOL

  30. chris said

    The author to this article missed a good article in the Korean Herald the other week which gave a good summary of Dokdo. Japan had admitted that it was Korea’s in the past and annexed it around 1905. In the first drafts of the peace accord Dokdo was to be given back to Korea. Due to Japanese lobbying Dokdo was left out of the treaty. A more balanced article would have given a little more historical information. The author failed to convey why Koreans get so upset over this issue.
    What a lot of people here do not seem to realize is that whenever Japan makes a claim on Dokdo Korean’s can’t help but remember what happened the last time Japan annexed Dokdo. If Japan had any sense of shame it would give up its claims on Dokdo since their only claim to it was that they annexed it at the beginning of the last century.
    By the way I really do believe that Koreans over react whenever Japan brings up the issue of Dokdo.

  31. Mat said

    Koreans are their worst ennemy.
    @Kimchi2000: blue eye, blonde hair folks in Europe? Europe is a big place with people from various ethnic backgrounds, just so you know.

  32. ampontan said

    The author to this article missed a good article in the Korean Herald the other week which gave a good summary of Dokdo. Japan had admitted that it was Korea’s in the past and annexed it around 1905.

    And you missed the chance to give us a link!

    The problem with Korean sources–and I really hate to say this–is that far too many of them are just too full of it. Making stuff up, deliberately modifying or leaving out information to suit their purposes.

    Unfortunately, that also includes articles written by university professors.

    Someone takes the time to figure out that it’s half-baked, but by then half of the peninsula is awash in the false information.

    I’d read it and consider it, but South Korean sources have a long way to go to recover their credibility on this particular issue.

    NOTE TO POSTERS: I delete ad hominem directed toward other posters. Otherwise, my policy is to let other people say what they want, including vile stuff, on the theory that it’s best to get that stuff out in the open where it can be cauterized. But I will also delete posts on an ad hoc basis too.

  33. Really good article, but just wanted to say that Tottori City was planning an exchange with their sister city Cheongju , not Cheju. As a person who lives and works in Cheongju, this news greatly disappointed me.

  34. chris said

    The Korean Herald blocks linking. There is a way around it but I don’t know how to do that. I tried looking for the article but I couldn’t find it. For some reason their search function doesn’t work with firefox.
    I know anything from a korean source would be biased towards Korea. Same as with Japan I would imagine. However this article seemed more even handed than most and had some fairly specific information. Also it mentioned that fact that korea signed the treaty with Japan which did not give Korea ownership over Dokdo. Most Korean news articles don’t mention that. In fact I think that is only about the second time I have read about that fact in a Korean newspaper.

  35. fromTokyo said

    Writing from Tokyo Japan. I am just an average Japanese male in early 30s. Please keep in mind that this is only my opinion and I am not speaking for the rest of Japanese.

    No one here in Japan (or at least people around me) really care about Takeshima Island. If Koreans want it, then I would say Go-ahead and take that stupid island. I mean, c’mon the place has been already invaded by Korean military and/or police forces. We understand that Korea has already brainwashed their people that Takeshima belongs to them and can’t back down. But the reality doesn’t work that way, right? If Japan gives Korea that piece of land, and then Koreans will be claiming more islands. Who’s next? Russian has already occupied four northern islands already. China has already shown interest in southern islands. After all, our constitution clearly sates that we can’t use military force to defend our country, so we are trying to resolve this issue by political talks. I don’t know if this is true, but my government tells me that we are ready to talk, but Korea is procrastinating (Sorry, I only read Japanese newspapers).

    One thing that my grand parents (war criminals) taught my generation was to never shed any more blood over conflict on islands. We’ve done that enough in the past.

    Thanks for your time to read my rusty English.

  36. Bender said

    I found the article. It can be sent to an email address, so maybe the link appears if you do so.

  37. Aceface said

    “I know anything from a korean source would be biased towards Korea. Same as with Japan I would imagine. ”

    The second largest paper in the country, Asahi, actually had an op-ed by the head of commentary department mentioning handing the island over to Korea in 2005.

  38. chris said

    @37 perhaps I should have phrased my sentences a bit different. Most sources from a Korean would be biased as well as most sources from a Japanese would be biased. Every country has it’s bias when it comes to writing its own history. I know that some Japanese agree that Dokdo is Korea’s. A few years back a couple of Japanese University professors agreed that Dokdo is Korea’s. At least that is what a few Korean papers claimed.

  39. […] Seoul’s choice: Busan or Takeshima – Ampontan examines two trends in South Korea’s relationship with Japan. […]

  40. orton said

    I have no knewledge over this island business of theirs. But after reading the full article, I can’t help but get the impression it’s written by someone who only reads Japanese newspapers, for it looks like every article combined from those.

    Since I don’t know what’s ‘really’ going on, I wouldn’t dare call it ‘biased’ but he/she should have also looked at it from a diffrent angle. Everytime something happens between two (any) nations, oh well, you know how it goes.

    Having only been to this site for a day, it seems to me the authors here have something ‘personal’ against Korea and its people.

    Just my two cents.

  41. AmPontan,

    Great post.

    Chris (#30),

    I have studied the history related to the Dokdo/Takeshima dispute for the past few years and have come to the conclusion that Korea has absolutely no historical claim to Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo/Takeshima). In fact, their claims border on the ridiculous. They have no maps to show that they even knew of the rocks before the Japanese incorporated them in 1905, and there are no Korean or Japanese documents to show that they ever visited them before the Japanese started taking them there on Japanese fishing boats in the early 1900s. That means they must rely heavily on misinterpreting Japanese maps and documents to make their claims.

    You cannot trust what is printed in Korea about “Dokdo” because it would be economic and professional suicide for a Korean newspaper or academic to even hint that “Dokdo” (Liancourt Rocks) might not belong to Korea. I only know a couple of Koreans who have dared to suggest it, and I think one was fired from his post at a university and the other is now essentially living in exile. From what I understand, Japanese society allows different viewpoints on the Dokdo/Takeshima issue, but not Korean society.

  42. Ken said


    Have you seen the textbook of Korean Empire in 1899 (before annexation), which clearly states Korean eastern point is 130 degrees 35 minutes of east longitude in following site?
    Even the book of commonsense of Korea in 1948 (after the WW2) in above site plainly states Korean eastern most point is Long.130″ 56′ E though Takeshima is located at Long.131″ 52′.
    There is included the documents of the US to have settled the matter with Korean ambassador.

  43. marson33233 said

    “All he–and Japan–can do now is wait for the rest of South Korea to grow up”

    i wonder where the poster is from? i’m sure i can find a bunch of immature beep going on in there and generalize its whole population.

  44. chris said

    @41 Gerry I have a couple of questions. Why would Korea take such in interest in Dokdo if they never knew about them before hand? Are you suggesting that Korea has completely fabricated all the evidence supports Dokdo’s is Korea? Also I would find it rather surprising the neither countries fishermen didn’t have knowledge of Dokdo until the 1900’s.

  45. nigelboy said


    You’re misunderstanding part of Gerry’s post.

    He stated that “They(Korea) have no maps to show that they even knew of the rocks before the Japanese incorporated them in 1905, and there are no Korean or Japanese documents to show that they(Korea) ever visited them before the Japanese started taking them there on Japanese fishing boats in the early 1900s.”

    And this is true as of today. Every now and then, Korean newspaper will publish this so-called Korean “maps” or “documents” to show that they (Korea) knew of Liancourt but it turns out to be Ulleungdo and/or her nearby islands such as Jukdo.

  46. chris said

    I’m not doubting what he is saying. I know a little bit about his work on this. I think I will look up his site and see what he has to say about this issue. One question that begs to be answered is where did this all come from. If Korea had no previous claims to Dokdo why did they start trying to claim it after the end of the war?

  47. nigelboy said


    Well. Russia had not previous claim to the Northern Territories but did so at and after Japan’s surrender.
    It’s like asking why people loot stores during the large demonstrations.

  48. chris said

    Michael Breen just penned another excellent article in the Korean times. In it he points out that ownership over Dokdo doesn’t extend the economic zone of either country.

    Also on a side note. Not to long ago China, Korea and Japan jointly produced a history book dealing with their countries interactions. Was it ever translated into English?

  49. Jadeite said

    Actually, My Engilish is very short…but..

    I want to say about this exorbitant statement.

    It’s very very valueless opinion to read.
    Koreans need not choice options you force,
    because Busan and Dokdo are our territory.
    And the distance of Dokdo and Ulleung island is only
    90km. Whereas Oki island and Dokdo’s is 157km.

    Therefore, Koreans need not be forced to choice these options.

  50. umakk69 said


    thanx for the link to an interesting article.

    a question to those who have followed the dokdo/takeshima
    dispute over the last decades:

    is this time any different from previous flare-ups in terms of intensity and / or consequences? do you expect that (hopefully)
    soon economic and cultural exchange resumes?

    it is astonishing to see how the Korean public allows nationalist elements to carry out protests in a way that embarrasses the whole nation and for sure will not help their case.
    the fact that a civilized discussion of different opinions not even among Korean scholars is possible, will be interpreted by outside observers as a weakness. What are Koreans afraid of?

  51. Bender said

    Oh, so if Tsushima is closer to the Korean peninsula than Kyushu, which I believe might be the case, it belongs to Korea? I think Tsushima can be seen from Busan, too.

  52. Ken said

    “He envisions a super-regional economic zone contributing to the growth of venture capital-funded firms and technology transfer centers.”

    Many scholars predicted;
    Main industry transits from agriculture, mining, etc to mfg to software & financing in each country.
    Leading country of each industry by development step transits from advanced country to developing one.
    But broadly in my opinion;
    The US invented basic patents or products and is leading financial technique now and maybe on.
    Japan brushed up each product to the highest reliability and the most functions with application or peripheral patents.
    Labor-intensive process in production is subcontracted from Japan to developing countries of cheaper labor cost.
    These roles are fixed.
    (Korea took technology transfer for granted and paid neither royalty nor even respect.
    There are some episodes that Japan thought evil was returned for good beginning with famous one of HONDA.)
    Korea aimed to replace above Japanese position transfer but will not be able to do so from some objective and subjective factors.
    Above all, technology transfer waiting (copying) country can never exceed the original.
    On the other hand, developing countries such as China, which are a little more logical and practical, are gaining on.
    Here is another choice for Korea to survive, to become knowledge-intensive country like the US or to compete with developing countries.

  53. Fucking Japanese reactionaries’ wrong decision drives Korea crazy..

    Why don’t they just shut the hell up and make some porno tapes, which is ther forte~.

  54. James Kim said


    They would shut up and would rather make porno tapes…however, the stupid Korean idiots won’t let them b/c they are too obsessed with them. However, the Koreans are doing will and teaching them the Korean forte of beating up women and eating dogs while cheating on their taxes..and masturbating to the pornography of other countries.

    Gotta love daehanmingook power.

  55. bender said

    Interesting that the use of profanities are pretty much confined to your ethnicity. I scorn stereotyping on racial/ethnic lines and think Wiesunjua’s comments are way too harsh, but I gotta admit, there must be something going on.

  56. James Kim said

    I have noticed that in reference to civilized first world countries like America, China or Japan, rankings always say “America (or Japan, China, etc.) is or has been ranked the highest…”

    With Korea, it’s always “In a couple of years from now…Korea should surpass..” LOL

    I remember Koreans saying about 20 years ago that Hyundai would surpass and blow away Toyota, Honda and GM in the world automobile market within 10 years….

    I guess 10 years turned into 15…which then turned to 20..LOL

  57. Busan or Takeshima ? The die hard activists leading the Showa revival in Japan want both and even more : claiming Dokdo is the same as claiming Seoul again.

    “Takeshima” means “bamboo island” because it was the first outgrowth of the Empire on Korean soil. Have you ever seen a bamboo grow on these islets ? We all know what bamboo represents : once it reaches a new territory it is almost impossible to unroot.

    The actual choice for Japan is this one : letting warmongers take over Japan once more or keeping the peaceful stance that followed WWII.

    It is time for the moderates in Japan to wake up and speak for the sake of a silent majority which has been, unlike in Germany, kept in the dark regarding the country’s darkest moments. I love both Korea and Japan and this sick ultranationalistic race enrages me.

  58. bender said

    I love both Korea and Japan and this sick ultranationalistic race enrages me.

    Then tell that to the Koreans instead of envisioning a phantom menace from Japan.

  59. Aceface said

    “It is time for the moderates in Japan to wake up and speak for the sake of a silent majority which has been, unlike in Germany, kept in the dark regarding the country’s darkest moments.”

    I advice you to check more facts than hypes.

    “I love both Korea and Japan and this sick ultranationalistic race enrages me.”

    Funny you can still live in Korea without being immune to “ultranationalistic race”.

  60. RTMak said

    As a non-Japanese, non-Korean American, it all sounds like un-informed racist ego flinging to me. There’s a lot more race-baiting than trying to understand the Other’s POV – obviously an anomaly on this blog at least.

    It’s pretty amazing how everyone falls into 2 categories
    a.) praising Japan for maintaining such a balance of nationalism and openmindedness yet in the VERY NEXT BREATH call other human beings dogs, children, etc.
    b.) saying Korea is not immature then proceed to rant like 12 year old. Though I’d venture to say the poster “C.S.Hui” is probably not Korean b/c a Korean would hardly want to remind the world of VAtech. That’d be like a German using the nickname Adolf Hitler in a Jewish forum. Troll anybody?

    Lots of hypocrisy going on here. If everyone took little time to self-reflect (instead of refusing to do so cuz THEY don’t/can’t self-reflect) and have a little compassion (obviously a foreign word here aha) and respect for other’s accomplishments and history….there’d be a lot more progress on the diplomatic front both here and on the global stage. But since the OTHER country should apologize/beg for forgiveness/grow/get off their high horse FIRST…everyone can just go back to writing angry comments and editing their history books.

    And Japanese and Koreans bitch and moan about Westerners being SO MEAN and stuck-up for saying things like “Koreans eat cute dogs with spicy foods, like to shoot people up at school or threaten to shoot people up overseas, think Starcraft is a sport, and really oughta thank America for saving it from Chinese communism” and “Japanese eat toxic puffer fish (weird!) and endangered whales (omg!), make lots o’ video games, tentacle porn and anime, have guys that look like girls and girls who are easy like geishas, and were really~ oughta thank America for bombing some sense into them after wrecking havoc across Asia.”

    Woot! Now I await to witness the profound understanding and compassion of the Eastern world towards the ignorant Westerner! Surely, they can take as well as they can dish out to everybody else except themselves!

  61. Aceface said

    “There’s a lot more race-baiting than trying to understand the Other’s POV – obviously an anomaly on this blog at least. ”

    Well,I’ll be glad if you could enlighten us with what made some Koreans beaten pheasant to death and flung it on the fense of Jaoanese embassy.RTMak.

    “If everyone took little time to self-reflect (instead of refusing to do so cuz THEY don’t/can’t self-reflect) and have a little compassion (obviously a foreign word here aha) and respect for other’s accomplishments and history….”

    I’d say you follow your own advice,AFTER reading the past posts on this blog or just go straight to Marmot hole and post exactly the samething as you’ve said here.

  62. wiesunja said

    No, Aceface…don’t be too harsh on RTMak. He doesn’t know any better. However, I don’t think your suggestion to him to go post on the Marmot’s Hole would be very beneficial to him unless of course he goes and spews rabid anti-Japan comments and uses racial epithets about Japanese. As long as he does that, he would be welcome on the Marmot’s Hole b/c it is essentially a playground for Cockorean trolls to go an masturbate in orgasmic frenzy by allowing them to fantasize that their scrawny, short legged, Korean bodies are actually the reincarnation of the Ming Emperor. Of course this fantasy ends the moment their internet connection ceases and then they have to face reality when they step outside of the PC Bang and they realize they are 20 minutes late for their shift at their parents laundromat or mini-mart store in K-town.

    On the other hand, if they even show one inkling of sympathy for anything Japanese, Marmot will ban them into oblivion so it’s pretty much a moot point.

    Good luck, RTMak..may the force be with you.

  63. […] Seoul’s choice: Busan or Takeshima « AMPONTAN […]

  64. kazam said

    IMO, “Ampontan’s” posts on the issue don’t really hold water because similar choices confront Japan. Japan can either

    1. Accept the present territorial status quo like most nations in the world, and understand that it has very little to gain from continuing irredentist claims against its neighbors. The past century has seen the borders of Poland and Germany move back and forth a few times, but everybody now accepts that fair or not, the present borders are the permanent borders, and nothing will be gained by raising the issue. Poland and Germany have not been at each other’s throats for many decades and Poland now gets lots of German investment. In cases where nations do not accept their present borders, e.g. Cyprus or Palestine or Kashimir, violent conflict has continued for decades.


    2. Continue to engage in current day Marco Polo Bridge incidents purely for symbolic value when it has no standing army, ability, intention, or public will to back up its provocations. This isn’t really a bad plan and works as long as the US army functions as a security blanket and babysitter, but I think overall it’s unwise considering that the day will eventually come when Japan will have to revise its constitution, maintain its own army, grow up, and leave the nest. All those territorial claims and the decades of inept diplomacy with its Asian neighbors are probably going to make things harder rather than easier then.

    So, the choice for Japan is almost the same, forget about some tiny islands of very little consequence and prepare for a future when Japan will be able to stand on its own, or be ready to deal with a significantly more tense and unpleasant situation when the US finally decides that it has no business stationing troops in a peaceful, wealthy, and technologically sophisticated country that should by all rights be perfectly capable of defending itself. Let’s face it, Japan can only afford to engage in the provocations because the US babysitter can protect it from the other kids, and Japanese diplomacy would be highly different if the US wasn’t still there 60 years after hostilities had ceased.

  65. ampontan said

    Continue to engage in current day Marco Polo Bridge incidents

    Say goodbye to your credibility.

  66. Topcat said

    To Kazam

    I wonder if you understand what kind of an incident Marco Polo Incident was.

  67. ilovedokdo said

    일본인들은 말합니다. 세계의 97%의 지도가 ‘일본해’라고 표기하니 포기하라고. 그러나 한국인들은 말합니다. 세계의 3% 지도가 ‘동해’라고 표기하니까 이제 시작이라고. 이런 거 돌리는 거 20초도 안 걸립니다. 아주 잠깐만 시간을 투자하세요. 일본에게 한국 네티즌의 힘을 보여 줍시다 The Japanese people say, 97% of the world map marks’ Sea of Japan ‘ so give up. But Korean people say, 3% of the world map marks ‘ East Sea’so we will start fighting. It doesn’t take even 20 seconds to turn this. Just sacrifice a little time. Let’s show the power of the Korean netizen to Japan. 日本の人々は話す。世界の97% の地図はそれに印を付けて断念すると同時に’ 日本海’ 。しかし韓国の人々は話す。示す世界の開始’ 東海’ の3% の地図はこれをよく好むこと! それは回り、湧き出る! 20 初めてそれはつかまえられない。時ただ時間は日本にショーを韓国のnetizen の力かなり投資する

    I’m Korean, of course I love Dokdo. Dokdo is definnetly a part of Korea, and if Japanese require me Busan or Dokdo, I’ll choice Dokdo. Japanese loves Tokyo than Dokdo!!!

  68. bender said

    I think there’s a correlation between extreme nationalism and IQ. The higher the former, the lower the latter.

  69. Xendra Kaigh said

    SOOOO not true!!

    Dokdo is South Korea’s property.

    In the 19th century, there was a huge map that a Japanese made, and it did not consist Dokdo in it!

    So how can you, the Japanese government say that Dokdo is yours?

    We knew of Dokdo’s presence since Silla, which was more than a thousand years ago!

    I demand that you edit this article or erase it.

  70. Some of the wonderful toys manufactured are; picnic baskets (complete with play bread, cheese, lettuce, hot dog and bun,
    ketchup, corn on the cob etc. If you’re going to invest, you might as well get something worthwhile. If you noise problem is lower frequency like trucks and doof doof music then you need a product which blocks more noise at lower frequencies eg between 50Hz and about 500Hz.

  71. Good day! I simply would like to give an enormous thumbs
    up for the nice data you’ve gotten here on this post. I will probably
    be coming again to your weblog for more soon.

  72. I read this post fully on the topic of the resemblance of most recent and earlier technologies, it’s remarkable article.

  73. AFB said

    RIP Ampontan

  74. The bird feeders must be tight to be able to hold grains and other dry food items.
    So, if you are into bird watching, it is always good to have a basic knowledge
    of bird’s mannerisms and watch them closely. Therefore, if there is an excess of seeds around, they have to figure out a way to store it.

  75. You are aware of thus considerably with regards to this condition, developed me for my part consider it coming from quite a few several attitudes. It is like individuals are not interested with the exception of it’s something to attain by using Person gaga! Your individual products superb. At all times maintain it up!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: