The body of water east of Korea was described as the "Sea of Corea" in a world gazetteer published in the U.K. in the mid-18th century, it emerged for the first time. This gives more international credibility to the neutral name that Korea demands the area be recognized by, the "East Sea," while diminishing Japan's claim that the "Sea of Japan" is the only acceptable reference.
The East Sea was described as the "Sea of Corea" in a map of the world published by "The Universal Gazetteer," which was first released in London in 1760. In a separate chapter that introduces the major seas and gulfs of Asia, the gazetteer specifies that the "Corean Sea" lies between "Corea" and the Japanese islands.
The 530-page gazetteer, which includes seven maps of the world, accurately describes Korea's geographical location. It states that the country lies at between 35 degrees and 43 degrees north latitude, and between 126 degrees and 136 degrees east longitude.
"In the past, some ancient Western maps were found to designate the body of the water as the 'Corean Sea' or the 'East Sea,'" said Prof. Kim Shin of Kyunghee University.
"But this was the first time we have found the authoritative Universal Gazetteer of the U.K. to give the East Sea a clear geographic designation as the Corean Sea while displaying its exact location."
Chang Dong-hee, who works as an ambassador for international geographical nomenclature, said, "This gazetteer carries significance because it backs up the legitimacy of the 'East Sea' name, as the body of water was described as the 'Corean Sea' in most documents published before the 19th century."
The archaic document will be made public at an exhibition at the National Library of Korea from Aug. 10-17. It will feature alongside 100 ancient maps and books that also support the East Sea designation, including the first edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica published in Scotland in 1768.
The archaic encyclopedia has been considered a trustworthy trove of knowledge in Western society since around the time of Britain's industrial revolution. It also describes the East Sea as the "Sea of Corea."