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Tell It to the World: Dokdo Is Korean

Posted January. 26, 2006 03:03,   


Five college students will travel around the world by motorcycle to publicize Korea’s sovereignty over Dokdo later this year. The five students are Kang Sang-kyun (25, sophomore at Yonsei University), Yi Gang-seok (25, junior at the School of Architecture at Ajou University), Kim Young-bin (23, sophomore at the School of Economics at Seoul National University), Kim Sang-kyun (25, senior at the Division of Computer Science at KAIST) and Hong Seung-il (21, sophomore at the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Seoul National University).

After leaving Korea on March 1, they will traverse the U.S. and Canada, cross the Atlantic to Europe, and then travel through the Middle East, Southeast Asia and China. Their 34,000 kilometer around-the-world trip will cover 23 countries.

“Whenever Japan lays claim to Dokdo, I want to inform the world about the Dokdo issue in person,” team leader Kang Sang-kyun said. “If we drive around the world on motorcycles, perhaps more people will take interest in the issue.”

The students will travel to Los Angeles first. After working to raise the awareness of the Dokdo issue among Koreans living there, they will meet the mayor of Los Angeles to ask for his support. They will then visit San Francisco, the official departure point for their journey. San Francisco was chosen because the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty between the U.S. and Japan omitted a specific resolution to the Dokdo sovereignty issue.

While traveling, they will visit prestigious universities around the world, such as Harvard, and hold seminars and mock trials to reveal the falsity of Japan’s claims to the islets. They will visit leading foreign media outlets such as CNN and the BBC, and mapmakers, such as World Map, to inform them about the Dokdo issue and to call on them to correct popular fallacies related to it. They also plan to inform people around the world about Dokdo through Samulnori performances, signature-collecting campaigns, and distributing pamphlets.

The five, who met each other in 2003 while serving in the army, created a group called “The Dokdo Riders” last March. To pay for the trip, they earned and saved money through private tutoring and other part time jobs. They fell far short of the expected expenses of the trip, 130 million won, however. People close to them also tried to talk them out of the plan, saying, “Your intentions are good, but it is a reckless plan.”

Their “reckless” plan became a reality, thanks to help from some patrons. Last December, the Seoul Young Korean Academy participated in their plan as a co-sponsor after hearing about it from Shin Yong-ha, the chairman of the Hansung University board of directors, who leads an academic society on Dokdo. On January 24, GS Caltex decided to provide them with 50 million won.

They said in unison, “Though our travel around the world won’t lead to a full resolution of the Dokdo issue, we hope that this will make many people take interest in it.”

For those who want to donate, the trip’s account number at the Industrial Bank of Korea is 277-028253-01-025 (the depositor is the Seoul Young Korean Academy). For more information, call 02-3672-6262.

Jae-Young Kim redfoot@donga.com