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China and Taiwan Clash over Land in Myeongdong, Seoul

Posted April. 10, 2005 23:15,   


China and Taiwan are engaged in a “territorial dispute” in the heart of Myeongdong, Seoul.

Taiwan has even filed a lawsuit against China, which may escalate into a diplomatic issue between Korea, China, and Taiwan.

“The Embassy of People’s Republic of China in Korea unfairly transferred Taiwan’s land title of 83-6, Myeongdong 2-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul,” the Taiwanese Mission in Korea said on April 8, and it was found on April 10 to have filed a lawsuit with a Korean court that demanded the “Chinese government restore the state as it was.”

The disputed land, about 227.4 m² (68.8 pyeong), is attached to the fence of the Chinese Embassy building (83-7, Myeongdong 2-ga), and is currently used as a passage for the public.

“After our suspended diplomatic relationship with the establishment of Korea-Chinese diplomatic ties in August 1992, Taiwan and Korea signed a memorandum in July 1993 that said, ‘The Korean government will take no action on Taiwanese ownership of non-diplomatic properties,’” the Taiwanese Mission claimed in the written complaint. “The ‘disputed land’ outside the Chinese Embassy is clearly not diplomatic property, so China’s unfair transfer of title runs counter to the memorandum.”

“We have expressed our strong objection through an official letter in October last year to the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade regarding how and why the title of the ‘disputed land,’ a non-diplomatic parcel of property, was transferred from Taiwanese to Chinese ownership on June 16, 1995, but the Korean government has not given any answer,” the complaint added.

China contacted the Jungbu Registry Office in Seoul in 1995, requesting “the title transfer of the disputed land on the grounds that the titles of foreign compounds such as the embassy and consulate had been converted from Taiwan to China since the forging of diplomatic ties between Korea and China in 1992,” and the registry office accepted the demand.

During its review process of land ownership in January last year, the Taiwanese mission belatedly found out that their ownership of the “disputed land” had been transferred to China in 1995, and protested to the registry office and the Foreign Ministry. With no progress, however, it sued the “Chinese Government.”

“We understand that China and Taiwan are in a conflict over the title of ‘disputed land,’” a Korean government official said. “However, the Korean government need not directly engage in the lawsuit between the two sides, but will just take action after the legal judgment is made.”

Hyong-gwon Pu bookum90@donga.com zsh75@donga.com