More U.S. states are seeking to refer to the body of water between Korea and Japan as both "East Sea" and "Sea of Japan" in future school textbooks.
Last Thursday, a Virginia House of Delegates panel passed a bill authorizing the unusual use of both names, which goes against federal practice of settling for just one. On Friday, lawmakers in the states of New York and New Jersey proposed similar bills.
On Jan. 28, the Georgia state senate also unanimously passed a resolution to use the two names.
Korean residents' groups in California, which is home to the biggest population of Koreans in the U.S. with 500,000 people, are pushing for the name "East Sea" to be used there as well, as do Korean residents' groups in other states like Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Texas.
The swift passage of the bills in Virginia attests to the growing clout of Korean Americans in the U.S., who have grown from a mere 100 in 1903.
According to 2010 U.S. census data, 1.7 million Korean Americans live in the U.S., a rise of 39 percent over the last decade alone. But some estimates put the Korean-American population in the U.S. at more than 2 million if non-resident aliens and illegal immigrants are counted.
The number of Japanese Americans stands at 1.3 million.