Thursday, August 7, 2008

Korea on the rocks part II

Winds have been blowing in many directions over Dokdo since our last visit*.

Japanese hardliners could almost claim victory after getting from the US Board of Geographic Names to obliterate Dokdo and to promote the Japanese-leaning "Liancourt Rocks" and "Sea of Japan" labels.

But then LEE Myung-bak and George W. Bush met, sat down, prayed for a while, and voila Dokdo back on the maps.

Yasuo Fukuda, the Japanese Prime Minister who obviously switched to nationalist mode only to prepare his cabinet reshuffle, will probably have to visit Yasukuni shrine a few times and ignite a few controversies in order to remain in power. I don't wish him good luck.

And now China is claiming Ieodo (Parangdo until 2001 - Suyan Rock for China and Socotra Rocks for the ROTW), a rock located between Jeju-do and China**. I'm not familiar with this issue but if the closest uncontested territories are Korean, then Chinese, then Japanese, Korea's claim seems less evident than for Dokdo.

As an underwater body, the rock cannot be claimed by anyone, but Korea built the Ieodo Ocean Research Station (along with a helipad) on its top during the 90s.

On that one, China's move seems rather defensive...
But ever the best strategists, the Chinese pick the best timing to position themselves : Bush is leaving Taiwan today for Beijing in order to attend the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games.

Speaking of games... this looks like chess : will Korea declare pat with China (OK for the neutrality of this area as an act of goodwill, but you stop claiming the Goguryeo heritage) ? or will Korea cling to this Ieodo pawn to the risk of threatening his Dokdo royal couple ?

* see "
Claiming Dokdo as Takeshima equals claiming Seoul as Gyeongseong" (20080518), and the following blogules in French : "Le Japon décide de recoloniser Dokdo" (20080714) and "Néofascisme et racisme au programme" (20080719)
** see "
China Promotes Claims over Korean Island" (20080808 Chosun Ilbo)

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