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S. Korea renames peaks of Dokdo to symbolize sovereignty

All Headlines 11:18 October 28, 2012

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Sunday that it has selected new official names for peaks on Dokdo, a group of its easternmost islets in the East Sea, in an apparent bid to better symbolize its sovereignty over the territory frequently claimed by its neighbor Japan.

Dokdo, which lies closer to South Korea in the body of water between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, has long been a thorn in relations between the two countries. South Korea keeps a small police detachment on the islets -- consisting mainly of Dongdo and Seodo -- effectively controlling them.

According to the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, the government has decided to rename Dongdo "Usanbong" and Seodo "Daehanbong," and use the new names starting Monday in the country's official maps, textbooks and Internet portals.

The reason why the government selected "Usanbong" as the official name for Dongdo is based on historical records. Dokdo itself used to be called "Usando" during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).

The name "Daehanbong" for Seodo, meanwhile, is based on the country's name in Korean, emphasizing that Dokdo is part of South Korean territory, the ministry said.

The move comes amid lingering tension over Dokdo since President Lee Myung-bak made a surprise and unprecedented trip to the islets in August, touching off a diplomatic feud between the two neighboring countries.

South Korea regained independence after Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule and reclaimed sovereignty over its territory. Japan's territorial claim to Dokdo is viewed by Koreans as a sign Tokyo has not fully repented for its imperialist past.

The renaming also came days after South Korea demanded Google Inc. restore the name of Dokdo on its English-language Web mapping service. Google recently updated Google Maps and replaced the name of Dokdo with its Franco-English name, the Liancourt Rocks, while removing the Korean address of Dokdo.

Last week, a deteriorated map created by the imperial Japanese government has been restored in South Korea to show Dokdo as Korean territory. The back of the map, printed on both sides of the paper in 1936, was unreadable because it had been pasted over with a sheet of thick paper. After five months of efforts, the National Archives of Korea, an agency charged with preserving government records, restored the original version of the map.

The map is one of few copies in existence that played an important role for Allied forces to recognize Dokdo as Korean territory shortly after Japan's World War II surrender, scholars said.


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