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Panel calls for boosting sovereignty over Dokdo

The Korean government should focus on reinforcing its social and legal influence over Dokdo, lawmakers and experts said in a parliamentary forum.

A seminar was held at the National Assembly on Wednesday by the parliamentary Dokdo Guardians, a group of lawmakers that was launched last month.

The discussion was attended by Reps. Suh Sang-kee, Won Hye-young and Park Sun-young and a number of local experts on the Dokdo issue.

“The Korean government often underlines an ‘effective occupation’ but this term is an outdated and limited expression, referring to a mere physical rule over the island,” said Chong Jae-min, judge at the Daegu Family Court.

“It is more vital for us to display orgoing and peaceful sovereignty by legislating corresponding laws and exercising jurisdiction.”

Also, despite the government’s “silent diplomacy” policy, the Dokdo dilemma should be approached more as a legal issue than diplomatic, he said.

Chong is the author of “Dokdo in The Hague,” a legal novel dealing with a fictional court dispute between Korea and Japan over the islet.

Lawmaker Park Sun-young, who chaired the debates, also agreed. “The term ‘occupation’ indicates taking over a territory which is either unattended or legally owned by another country,” said Park.

“Government officials and Dokdo experts first need to properly understand the legal terms and principles to stand a chance regarding international disputes.”

Yuji Hosaka, Japanese-turned-Korean professor and head of the Dokdo research center at Sejong University in Seoul, emphasized that “effective occupation” alone is insufficient to confirm Korean sovereignty over Dokdo.

Though the assembly’s special committee on Dokdo is to end its term this month, the parliamentary Dokdo Guardians is to continue its academic and legislative activities as a permanent group, lawmaker Park said.

By Bae Hyun-jung (tellme@heraldcorp.com)
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