Sunday, April 25, 2004

East Sea, West Sea

I read this in the Korea Times today and came home ready to Blog-slap it, but a certain Kanadian beat me to the bitch-slappin. If you have not already read his piece, do so now (you'll need to scroll down a bit) because I am just going to add to what he already said.

Some relevant samples of the article that need to be pooped upon.

‘Sea of Korea’ preferred on Old Western Maps

By Yoo Ddong-ho

Seven out of 10 old western maps use alternative names to refer to the body of water between South Korea and Japan in lieu of the ``Sea of Japan,” the Government Information Agency (GIA) announced on Tuesday.

According to a survey conducted by the Korean Information Service under GIA wing, 420 or 71 percent of 594 timeworn maps at the libraries in the United States and other European countries designated the disputed area as the ``Sea of Korea,” the ``East Sea,” the ``Gulf of Korea” or the “The Oriental Sea”

Those maps that depicted the area as the Sea of Japan accounted for only 12 percent, the survey said.

Ok, so now we see that the title of this piece was misleading as hell. The big 70% is now cut up into smaller percentages.

What’s even more telling is that along with 3 names that are very agenda-friendly for the Korean team, they lump in the very neutral “Oriental Sea.” Why would they try to squeeze this one in that list? Could it possibly be that WITHOUT the Oriental Sea percentage the combined percentage of the other “Korea friendly” statistics is somewhat pathetic?

Might the numbers look something like this?

Sea of Korea 10%
East Sea 10%
Gulf of Korea 10%
Oriental Sea 41%

Of course, I am just pulling numbers out of my ass here, but presenting this information in the way the author chose to just raises too many red flags to anyone who knows how easy it is play with statistics. If the statistics were more favorable to the East Sea or one of the Korean sea variants, you know damn well that statistic would be prominently placed.

Some mo'

``A considerable number of maps made by knowledgeable mapmakers in the 17th and 18th centuries used East Sea or Sea of Korea for the sea area,” a GIA official said.

What does “Considerable” mean exactly? 5%? 50%? Why no specific numbers? My God, there was a three fucking year study on the issue; they can’t report an exact percentage? The fact that they choose not to give a number again makes me quite suspicious.

Ah“knowledgeable mapmakers." I'm sure these research experts have a good, unbiased reason to give them this title. And can we guess that the "unkowledgeable" mapmakers were the ones who mistakenly put "Sea of Japan?" Did the Korean research team decide to exclude findings of mapmakers they deemed "unknowedgeable" for some reason?

And most importantly, did the "knowledgeable" mapmakers spell it 'Corea’ or ‘Korea’? I mean, if they are so knowledgeable and authoritative and all, perhaps that should put an end to that controversy as well.

As Rathbone points out well, the “study” actually reveals that Korea has no case here. They show that there was no consensus on what to name the sea. If “Sea of Japan” had only 12% and the other 4 mentioned added up to 71%, that means…wait…let me get a calculator…ah..there is still 17% unaccounted for so who knows how many more names were flying around back then. Apparently all of these “knowledgeable” mapmakers were pretty much making it up as they went along if the lack of agreement is that huge.

Now, if they could show that BEFORE Japanese domination in the later 19th and 20th century that the sea had one established name with which an exceeding majority agreed, but then those bloody Japanese forced a change for their own ethnocentric whims, the Koreans would have a case. But they can’t, so they don’t.

As Rathbone notes, the term East Sea is not neutral. It brings up the obvious question: East of whom? It is certainly not East of Japan. Is Korea the center of the world? I mean...we all know they want to be the hub of Asia and all, but still...

Let’s put the silliness of all this in perspective a little. Imagine a group of Amerikkkans decided that they hated that beautiful body of water to the south of us being called the Gulf of Mexico. They made a big-ass fuss to get it changed to a “neutral” term: the South Gulf.

Mexicans would rightly say, “South of who, Gringo?? Now you want us to call the Gulf that is very much to the east of us the “South Gulf?” You think the sun rises and sets on your pasty potato and hot dog eaten asses??

EVERYONE in the world would call the US on the carpet for this completely unnecessary display of nationalism, and they would be right.

There is no difference here.

Hey, I just thought of something. Why doesn’t Russia ask the Koreas to change their names? North Korea should now be called South Korea, and what is now South Korea should be changed to “Really-Fucking-South Korea.” I mean, from a Russian perspective, it certainly makes a lot of sense "North" Korea is certainly not North to Russia). I mean come on, these are just neutral terms anyway, right?

Anyway, in the spirit of fair compromise, I suggest that Japan allow the name to be changed.
Naturally, if the Koreans think “East Sea” is neutral, they should have no problem agreeing to call it the equally neutral term, “West Sea.” I am sure the Japanese would be willing to go along. Case solved.

Shall we start a petition going?

Suggest it to your Korean acquaintances the next time the opportunity arises and be sure to let me know how they respond.

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