Now 'East Sea' Has Sunk, Can 'Sea of Korea' Swim?

The naming of the bodies of water surrounding the country looks set to become even more confusing amid strong indications that a campaign to use "East Sea" on international maps for the more common "Sea of Japan" has failed. Instead, Korea is now minded to promote the old name "Sea of Korea" from international maps or nautical charts predating the 20th century.

When asked in a press briefing if the country would consider yet another name for the East Sea, Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said, "We can think of various ways, for example retrieving the lost historical name 'Sea of Corea' if that is helpful."

The government has been criticized for failing to persuade the international community that "East Sea" is such a crucial name for the body of water between Korea and Japan that it should exceptionally be given two designations in IHO guidelines.

"Our efforts to change the designation since 1992 have produced no tangible results," another government official said. "Some people say we'd gain no practical benefit even if we did persuade the international community to use both 'East Sea' and 'Sea of Japan,' whereas it'll be much easier to understand why we might want to use 'Sea of Korea,' instead of 'Sea of Japan.'"

"The new proposal could help resolve the issue before the IHO officially rejects 'East Sea' as an alternative and thereby ices the entire idea of dual naming for the body of water," a third government official said.

Some pundits claim "Sea of Korea" would have been a better name in the first place. Expert Lee Don-soo in an article said, "The name 'East Sea' was used briefly on ancient Western maps but fell into disuse after 'Sea of Corea' became common."

englishnews@chosun.com / Aug. 15, 2011 09:33 KST