A campaign to bring the issue of Dokdo to the public’s attention took place last July 16 at Jeju City Hall organized by the Jeju Foreign Language High School (JFLH) history club called “Laonhaje” (which means “blissful tomorrow” in pure Korean).
Laonhaje is made up of 11 students, including myself, from the English, Chinese and Japanese departments. Its goal is to help correct distortions in Korean history, mainly through public awareness. Last year the issue of the Japanese army’s brutal treatment of Korean women (known as “comfort women”) during World War II and how modern Japan has a right-wing political slant, among other topics, were taken up by the club.
This year, JFLH was designated a “base school for the protection of Dokdo” by the Northeast Asian History Foundation. Laonhaje has taken a leading role in related activities. On the afternoon of the 16th the club displayed 10 information panels in City Hall’s Eoullim Square, highlighting the history of Dokdo and the reasons why it is Korean territory. Each panel, which was in Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese, provided viewers with substantial and accurate information. They also included information about Japan's claim to give context to the territorial dispute.
We worked hard for weeks to prepare for the campaign. Many citizens read the panels, participated in the survey and watched the videos we made available on laptops. Yet a considerable number of people just walked by and declined to answer the survey.
It is our strong belief that public concern and involvement is key to garnering acknowledgement from the international community that Dokdo is Korean territory. Our club and others around the nation will continue to reach out to students, the public and travelers to Korea to raise awareness about the facts surrounding the Dokdo territorial dispute. However, it is clear that more campaigns by the government and private organizations are also needed.
Lee Yuh Jun is a first-year high school student on Jeju.
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