Another EPIK-sponsored Dokdo Brainwashing

Tonight, I came across a blog entitled, "Not Another Tourist," which had an interesting post on the blogger's recent trip to Ulleungdo and "Dokdo" (Liancourt Rocks) entitled "16 June 09- Everyone Loves a Field Trip!" It was an EPIK-sponsored trip, which means she and the other foreign English teachers on the trip had to go through the Dokdo brainwashing lectures. Since she has not been in Korea that long and does not seem to know much about the history, she seems to have been an easy victim, which may be one reason why they target the EPIK teachers.

I left a comment on her site with a summary of my views on the subject and an invitation to visit this site, but she moderates her comments section, so I do not know if she will post it or not.
She posted a link to a bunch of pictures of Ulleungdo, but, strangely, there were no pictures of Ulleungdo's neighboring island of Jukdo, which sticks out like a sore thumb if you are on the right side of the island. It makes me wonder if the foreign teachers were intentionally taken only to places where Jukdo was not visible. Jukdo is only about two kilometers off Ulleungdo's east shore and was the island that appeared on old Korean maps as "Usando."
Among the pictures posted was a picture of the infamous replica of the first Korea map to show Ulleungdo and Usando. The original map shows Usando (于山島) to the west of Ulleungdo (鬱陵島) instead of the east, but the Dokdo Museum has switched the locations of the two islands on the replica.
A few years ago, a Japanese newspaper reporter asked the people at the museum why they switched the locations of Ulleungdo and Usando on the replica and suggested that by doing so they were being dishonest. The man at the museum told the reporter that they switched the locations to make it easier for Korean children to understand. In other words, it is more difficult to brainwash Korean children into believing Usando was Dokdo when Korea's old maps show Usando west of Ulleungdo instead of east. When the reporter replied that that would still not justify their falsifying the map, the man at the museum told her that they were planning to correct the mistake; however, two and a half years later, they appear to still be showing the altered replica.
Compare the original map with the altered replica in the Dokdo Museum. Notice that the locations of Ulleungdo (鬱陵島 - 울릉도) and Usando (于山島 - 우산도) are switched and moved farther apart.
The Original Map

The Altered Replica in the Dokdo Museum (Notice that the islands have been switched)


  1. Gerry,

    Thank you for the lengthy comment providing another side of the issue. I didn't want to get into it all on my blog. I was much more interested in Ulleungdo, and wished we could have learned more about its history and cultural nuances as a remote island.

    It's a little unfair to label me brainwashed as I think you misunderstood the tone of my post regarding the Dokdo issue and that you are taking my quote of "the long story short..." out of context. Perhaps I should have written it, "The Korean's long story short..."

    The point of that part of my blog post was to share the Korean side given to us on the trip and what lengths they go to try to convince everyone (due to their painful relationship with Japan) when the rest of the world couldn't care less. I never once stated that Dokdo is definitely historically Korean, all I conveyed was that it's unnecessary for all the Korean hype as currently you can only have access to Dokdo from Korea and that Koreans use this nationalist front to make some pretty absurd claims against Japan.

    Yes, our trip was a propaganda trip sponsored by the government, and everyone who signed up for it knew that going into it. We'd heard that the group who went the year before we required to take a group photo with their respective countries' flags while saying "Dokdo belongs to Korea!" (That part was changed, or it would have been a banner lying on the ground where our group was meant to be).

    We were asked to do some research on the issue beforehand and I am familiar with the argument about the maps Jukdo. I think most foreigners try to look into Dokdo/Takeshima/Liancourt Rocks after being bombarded with Dokdo overload when they first arrive, so it wasn't the first time I tried to make sense of it (I have even seen your site before).

    Also, we were definitely allowed to see Jukdo. We were taken on a hike to the Dodong Lighthouse which has a clear view of Jukdo... I was a little more enamored with the view from the same spot of a little coastal village.

    Last, but not least, I don't appreciate your condescension towards foreigners with Korean heritage (I am of European ancestry in any case), there were Korean- American/Canadian/Australians on our trip, and I can safely say they were able to form their own opinions as well. After living here for nearly 2 years (even in a rural area) I have met ethnic Koreans who roll their eyes when they hear of Dokdo, and I'm surprised that after over 25 years in Korea, you haven't come across the same.

    As bloggers we often use blanket statements about the cultures we encounter to help our readers get a better understanding of some general attitudes and cultural differences we encounter, but you insult the intelligence of everyone (and your own integrity and credibility) when you begin by sharing another side of the story to foster academic debate and then tell the reader to disregard it based on ethnicity.

    As you stated on your blog, you didn't know if I would post your comment. I did post it, so you are welcome to post my comment on yours, or just take this as a personal reply.

    Not Another Tourist.

  2. Not another Tourist,

    I appreciate your comment since it is nice to read how you really feel about the issue.

    Yes, I guess I did misunderstand the tone of your post, but that was partly because you did not use any quotation marks nor precede your statements with "Our guide said" when you wrote the following:
    The long story short is that historically (according to old maps drawn by Koreans and Europeans), the island has always been recorded as a part of Korea. The problem comes in around the time of the Japanese occupation of Korea in the early part of the 20th century, when they first documented that it was a part of Japan (which, at that time, all of Korea belonged to Japan). After WWII, Japan had to give Korea back (and many other areas previously under their control in China and Russia), and they conveniently refused to return these two specks of land out in the middle of nowhere (along with some islands belonging to China and Russia).

    You are surprised? I am surprised to hear that you have met Koreans "who roll their eyes when they hear of Dokdo" because in my twenty-five years in Korea, I have not met any Koreans like that. I have met Koreans who have said that Korea's colonial period was not as bad as it is reported, but no one has ever "rolled their eyes" when it came to Dokdo.

    I apologize for sounding condecending towards foreigners with Korean heritage because I have also met some who would rather not talk about Dokdo and some of Korea's other historical claims. However, I have never met any foreigners with Korean heritage who have disagreed with Korean claims on Dokdo.

    To tell you the truth, the reason I wrote "If you are of Korean ancestry, then you can just ignore everything I have written" at the end of my comment was to try to egg you into posting the comment. I did not know if your comments were screened or not, but since you seemed to be parroting the Korean claims on Dokdo, I thought there was a possibility you would not allow the comment.

    Anyway, I apologize for that part of the comment.

    By the way, the comments on this blog are not screened.

    You may not believe me, but I actually like Korea and Koreans. One of the few things I do not like is the way they deal with their history with Japan.

    Enjoy your stay in Korea.

  3. Dear Not Another Tourist,

    Please forgive me if I'm intervening the conversation between Gerry and you.

    But I hope you, as a supporter of EPIK and as a foreginer from the western world, can understand the history concerning Dokdo - especially what happened in 1952:

    and what the US mission (Van Fleet) reported to the President of USA:

    Also I would like to add that I am a Korea lover as well as Gerry. I keep enjoying Korean culture including Korean food a few times a year - actually I went to Seoul twice this year (third times last year) and I know Korean people are generally good people. I hope you will keep loving Korea, enjoy it!

  4. Gerry,

    Blogs tones are hard to understand sometime. Mine is for my friends and family who know me, but if you just came across it randomly, you don't know my voice. Even so, I can easily see where omitting that "our guides said..." part could be misleading.

    I can't name names of course, but recently there was a big Dokdo push in the elementary schools (full of "I love Dokdo" shirts and pamphlets and maybe some presentations on it, I am not sure what it entailed entirely). People were very excited about our chance to go. When my colleagues asked me about the trip and I told them about all the "evidence" along with the biased claims, they could clearly distinguish what appears to be historical evidence and what is just sensationalism (i.e., Japan might INVADE again!) They unanimously agreed (along with our lecturers) that it is mainly an emotional issue over their independence from Japan.

    Several times on the trip they would say, "We want you to be objective and look at the unbiased evidence (which was only presented from a Korean perspective). You don't have to pick sides, but we think you will see it's ours, especially once you visit the island for yourself." As anyone who takes themselves seriously, trying to put in a disclaimer doesn't actually make it unbiased in reality.

    What blows my mind is that for as much as Koreans cry out about the issue, they are not willing to take action that would have a real consequence that might not be in their favor and they have many excuses for why they haven't taken more action other than lip service.

    In my mind, there are a few resolutions: One: Fight for it. But I am not sure many Koreans would be willing to actually die over the issue. Two: Take it to the ICJ (they claim it's currently too biased with the Japanese president- even though his vote would be balanced out by law with the implementation of a Korean rep). Three: Go the King Solomon route and split it (only one island has valuable resources below it, so this would show everyone's true colors over the power struggle for resources). Four: Use Dokdo-Takeshima as a symbolic bridge to be proactive and begin a better relationship as a model of peace for the world.

    It is quite likely that if any of those were to happen, the feelings from the "losing" side would not change, and hence the status quo.

    Hope that clarifies things for you. Korea is an amazing place and I really enjoy living and working here, too. It is hard to blame Koreans for having such strong feelings about their history, especially in light of their recent history with Japan. Most countries teach history the way they prefer it to be told. Just think of the Conquistadors, Christopher Columbus, or Cpt. James Cook (to name the more famous examples). They are each hailed as heroes or murderers depending on who's telling the story.

    Lastly, I moderate my comments so I don't get spammed. Apology accepted... for all I know (or the readers reading the comments on my blog- which is probably none), ethnocentric comments like that do not remove you far from the "Ugly American" stereotype of expats in the world, so it's not doing you favors in the blogosphere.

    PS- Thanks for the clarification on my flickr set of the ancient map of japan.. I couldn't figure out what it was because I had the shot upside down!

  5. I think this is a good example why we need communication. And I'm really glad to know at least EPIK teachers know it is a Korean propaganda funded by Korean government.

    Anyway, nice blog, Not Another Tourist. I've read about your trip to Hakata. next time you have a chance to come to Tokyo, let me know. I'll show you and your lovely husband round the city. (I didn't comment on your blog since it seems personally one.)

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  7. Just a question,
    I heard that Dokdo Propagand Museum stopped to display the distorted Paldo-Jido which Usando is distorted on East of Ulluengdo by museum ??

    I saw Distorted Paldo Jido in Dokdo Propaganda Museum on 14th of August which Usando is located on East of Ulluengdo (true Paldo jido八道総圖 Usando于山島 is west of Ulluengdo ofcourse everyone knows)

  8. According to the news, Dokdo Propagand Museum refer to stop the distorted Paldo jido panel (here)

    But the panel was still there and still distorted panel.

  9. Also, still they abusively display refuted propaganda which Korean government distort to insist about Liancourtr Rocks.


    Im surprized that SAMSUNG support those brainwashed propaganda aimed for anti-Japan trends. They support Korea's fascism and Militarism.


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