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Calls grow in S. Korea for Olympic boycott over Dokdo

Government to continue to demand corrections on map but not considering boycott

Above Shimane Prefecture, Dokdo is marked as Japanese territory (Yonhap)
Above Shimane Prefecture, Dokdo is marked as Japanese territory (Yonhap)


Calls are growing for Seoul to boycott the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics in protest against the Japanese government’s marking of Dokdo as its territory on its Olympics website.

The Korean government recently found that Dokdo remains on the Japanese territorial map on its Olympics website as a faint dot when the screen is zoomed in. Earlier, Japan had made the island unseen on the map after Korea’s protest. The Korean government recently protested again to remove the island, but the claim was not accepted by Japan.

As the spat over the island continues, calls grow among Koreans that the Olympics should be boycotted if the request is not accepted.

When North and South Korea had marked Dokdo on the Korean Unification Flag for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, the IOC received protests from Japan and recommended that Dokdo be deleted. Accordingly, the two Koreas decided to remove Dokdo from the flag.

This month, more than 200 lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties have proposed resolutions condemning the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee.

On Wednesday, Rep. Choo Kyung-ho, senior deputy floor leader of main opposition People Power Party, has submitted a resolution to the Tokyo committee, saying, the committee has “committed an unacceptable, violent attack that undermines the spirit of international sports.”

This is in line with the resolution that 132 lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea proposed earlier on June 3.

Rep. Baek Hye-ryeon of Democratic Party said on that day, “Marking Dokdo in Japanese territory is an act that infringes on the territorial sovereignty of Korea and will negatively affect the relationship between the two countries.”

Dozens of politicians from regional assemblies nationwide, including Gyeonggi Province, North Gyeongsang Province and South Gyeongsang Province, have also raised their voices by physically protesting and proposing resolutions.

Gyeonggi Provincial Assembly said Tuesday it was a clear act of negligence by the International Olympic Committee to take no action against Japan’s marking of Dokdo on the Olympic map.

According to a recent nationwide survey of 1,009 adults by the Korea Institute of Social Opinion, 67.6 percent of the respondents said they were in favor of a boycott. Among them, “strongly agree” was 50.6 percent and “generally agree” was 17 percent.

As of Wednesday, more than 67,000 people signed up the petition on the website of presidential Blue House with a title of “(We) should boycott the Olympics if Japan insists on marking Dokdo as Japanese territory.”

The petitioner said, “During the PyeongChang Olympics, we gave up the Dokdo flag to preserve the Olympic spirit. Such an act is nothing more than a declaration of war by using the Olympic Games to expose international ambitions for Dokdo. Our government must respond more decisively than ever.”

As calls for a boycott of the Tokyo Olympics grew, the Korean government expressed its stance on Tuesday, saying, it is currently “not considering not attending the Tokyo Olympics” due to this marking issue.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ spokesperson Choi Young-sam said the ministry would continue to demand corrections on the map, adding, “Dokdo is historically, geographically and internationally clear territory of the Republic of Korea.”

The ministry also delivered a letter to the International Olympic Committee asking for active arbitration early this month, but the IOC has yet to make any announcement.

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)

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