East Sea or Sea of Japan: Online Battle With Japan Intensifies

An age-old debate between Korea and Japan to do with naming the sea between the two countries has been intensifying on the internet this week following an online Korean-based petition to rename the sea to the ‘East Sea’

The sea is commonly referred to as The Sea of Japan by most countries but is strictly referred to as the East Sea in both North and South Korea. The issue, along with the dispute over the Lioncourt Rocks (aka ‘Dokdo” in Korea and ‘Takeshima’ in Japan; a small set of islets between Korea and Japan –– as covered in this koreaBANG article.) is highly contentious and often gives rise to minor outbursts of nationalist sentiment in Japan and Korea.

From Newsis:

Online war on East Sea – Japanese netizens argue that East Sea was originally a Japanese territory

Protests for Sea of Japan Naming

Korea and Japan have been on a battle on the petition board [We the People] of the White House website regarding the issue of naming the East Sea, on the 21st of April. The battle has sparked criticism from Japanese netizens against the marking of East Sea, which has since spread rapidly online.

 There is a continuous stream of posts on the website 2ch (www.2ch.net) reproaching the petition from Korea to mark the Sea as the East Sea. This website is an anonymous online community with the largest number of simultaneous log-ins in the world.

 A Japanese netizen claimed that ‘it is dogmatic of Korea to mark the sea as East Sea, as nowhere else in the East Asia – including Japan, Taiwan and China – refer to it as the East Sea.’

 Another netizen rolled out some raw insults, saying that Korea has little influence on the international community, and the East Sea would have been called the Pacific Ocean if Japan didn’t exist.

 There were also posts against the name East Sea that instead suggested using the name ‘Gyeong-Hae’, one of the archaic names for the East Sea.

 The writer explained that Gyeong-Hae would be suitable, because Japan can accept it as an old name and Korea could approve it since the name doesn’t include the word ‘Japan.’

 Japanese netizens are generating a similar stream of criticism on SNS in the country.

 A picture file explaining how to sign up on the petition opposing East Sea mark is spreading rapidly on Twitter, and the message encouraging participation in the petition is getting retweeted constantly.

 ‘Koreans argue that they have called it East Sea since before Christ, but I don’t think they could have grasped the shape of Sea of Japan. Even if they did know [what it looked like], they would have merely called it East Sea only up to the boundary visible to them, not too far from the shore,’ a Japanese Twitter user argued.

 Another Twitter user made an absurd comment, saying ‘I don’t know my geography very well, but wasn’t the East Sea originally part of Japanese territory?’

Comments from Naver:


The island of Japan would soon become inhospitable for the Great Apes [referring to the Japanese] anyway, due to earthquakes and tsunamis, so it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea to lock the Japanese monkeys in Dok-do and raise them, as they are an endangered species.


Ridiculous jerks… The land you guys are living in was originally Korean. We sympathetic Koreans lent the land to you out of pity for your homeless situation, and now you say something is yours when it is not? Vulgar and ignorant people, if you keep insisting, we will bury you at sea. We don’t need the island you guys live in. It’s a piece of land that will be gone anyway without leaving a mark when an earthquake strikes it… It’s easier for us, as things are done without our input. Don’t ask us to forgive and help you out when that happens. Your species should be exterminated completely! It delights me just to think about it. Goodbye, Japs.


Ah, aren’t they the people living on our breakwater…?


Hey, look, it dumbfounds me to listen to you… Let me summarise this. What does ‘originally’ mean in history, anyway? Does it then make sense [for us] to say, ‘Give us back that land because it was conquered by the King Gwang-gae-to, so it belongs to South Korea,’ huh? Should I blame the sheer nonsense that you are spitting out to the radioactivity or what… I am Korean, but Korean netizens shouldn’t just swear [at the Japanese]. We don’t have to lower ourselves to their standards! Let’s criticize them intelligently. It’s not difficult to beat the Japanese monkeys without swearing at them.


Dear patriotic people of Korea, why don’t you complain about marking the South Sea as East China Sea, according to international law? If Korea has more of the sea including Dok-do and the territorial sea, as you say, then shouldn’t you push for the name Sea of Korea rather than East Sea? Don’t you see this? No-one other than the country directly involved uses the directional sign like East Sea. It would surely be more valid to demand they change it to the Sea of Korea instead.


I’m not on the side of Japan, but everyone is just swearing at them. I think we need some evidence why Dok-do is our territory if we are going to beat Japanese… Of course I don’t have any knowledge on that either ㅠ_ㅠ


Give me just one reason why Japan shouldn’t be treated like a dog.


Our position is to have dual/parallel marks of the East Sea and Sea of Japan, following international law, and not to mark it only as the East Sea. The UN Treaty on the Standardization of Geograghical Names endows no validity to the general marking with the name used by one nation only, unless both countries agree on it.


Animals are known to respond when they feel a natural disaster coming.


They say the Japs changed ‘Corea’, which was the original name of our country in English, into ‘Korea’ to place it behind their name ‘Japan’ [alphabetically]… Monkey bitches, if you keep insisting on your absurdity, your name ‘Japan’ might be changed into ‘Zapan’, which is behind us ‘Korea’.

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  • Genxi

    “They say the Japs changed ‘Corea’, which was the original name of our country in English, into ‘Korea’ to place it behind their name ‘Japan’ [alphabetically]… Monkey bitches, if you keep insisting on your absurdity, your name ‘Japan’ might be changed into ‘Zapan’, which is behind us ‘Korea’.”

    ^ That’s funny shit.

    • Ami

      I thought that was hilarious too!

    • lonetrey

      Lmaoo, oh man they are so ridiculous

      • onoda

        that is based on their Anti-Japanese Education, which continues since Korea is built.

    • disqus_aR7UURFstf

      Whatever… it’s just a conjecture. Nothing can support that opinion.

  • Ami

    Can anyone recommend some books to read about Korean history? Preferably one that includes history about their relations with Japan.

    If you don’t know any can you summarize their rivalry? I know Japan has committed some war atrocities against Korea in the past and never apologized but what about vice versa

    • James

      Bruce Cumings’ Korea’s Place in the Sun is a fantastically accessible account of Korean history from the colonial period, through the Korean War and division.

    • Jess

      Most of it stems from Japanese annexation and occupation of Korea, and the accompanying war crimes. Korean “comfort women” forced into sex slavery, and the like. Japan had also invaded Korea twice before, during the Joseon Dynasty, which fuels the perception of Japan as an aggressive and belligerent nation/people. Territorial disputes over the Liancourt Rocks are also important to note. This is the general sentiment as far as public awareness goes. More nationalistic groups accuse Japan of “stealing” Korean culture and claiming it as its own, escalating from there, but much of that is contained to the Internet.

      Japan has apologised “officially” many times for its imperial history. But it’s difficult to accept those apologies as genuine when Japan continually and regularly elects politicians into government who deny that the very same wartime atrocities even occurred. These are not just a minor local offices, either, but the prime ministership and other major cabinet positions.

    • All the truth available in 4 volumes, don’t get fooled by those xenophobic koreans, know the truth NOW!!


      • Wang that!

        You’re pretty funny…

        Xenophobia also exists in Japan and every other country. Please try to reference OTHER historical records to cross verify anything.

        Japan only has less than 3000 years worth of history and was bitch ass poor due to constant in fighting until it opened up for trade.

        Korea took the path of China and ended up like then at the turn of the century… Out gunned and invaded by the Japanese that were never able to do it successfully in the past.

        Look it up its recorded in historical records… including Japan

    • Ami

      Thanks for your input everyone

  • Koreans are forever trying to overcompensate for the history of Korea under Japanese rule: 1905 to 1945.

    Notable for the fact that many Korean supported, aided, and abetted Japanese rule.

    Rewriting and inventing history is a national pastime:


  • Brett Sanbon

    I find it ironic that the extreme nationalism which was ‘absorbed’ from Japan, is mostly directed at Japan.

  • EmPn

    Since when do “netizens” are consider important enough to based on article on?
    These comments could be from 12, 15, 8 years old xenophobic kids.
    Articles should be based on facts, not anonymous OPINIONS.
    This is poor journalism.

    • James

      Are you referring to koreaBANG or the article referenced in this article that we’ve translated? If it’s the former, you’re missing the point of this website. If it’s the latter, you’re probably right!

  • lonetrey

    Clearly, they have their seas mixed up. Can’t they see that it’s the Far West American Sea?!

    Come, let me show you and draw on a map America’s boundaries. >_>;

  • Listen, if you can read japanese (or find an english translated version) everybody should take a look at least ONCE at this ilustrated truth about Koreans and their shitty-pride/arrogance/everlasting VICTIMISM.


    It’s not comics, it’s HISTORY folks, with all sources available.

      • bigwin80

        Not history, but a comic book for virgins. Read the wiki link you uploaded, it lists several historical inaccuracies in the book.

        Historical inaccuracies

        P.26 states Keijō Imperial University, founded in Seoul by Japan in 1924, had about the same number of Japanese and Korean students.[clarification needed] The university had 31% of Korean students in 1926 and 35% in 1941.[16][citation needed]

        P.53 suggests the economic growth of South Korea was due to Japanese grants ($0.5 billion) based on Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea of 1965.[17] Between 1945 and 1960, the United States provided South Korea 6 times more fund than Japan did in foreign assistance ($3 billion) and continued aid till 1970.[18]

        p. 77 states South Korea only received 1 vote in an election for non-permanent members for United Nations Security Council in 2003 and claims it is an evidence Korea is not trusted by other countries. In fact, South Korea has been already elected as a member for 1996–1997 with over 2/3 of valid ballots. Ban Ki-moon, current Secretary-General of UN is a South Korean.[19]

        p. 163 states the Japanese colonial government published the first Korean dictionary in 1920. In fact, the dictionary was a Korean-Japanese dictionary as entry meanings were in Japanese. The first Korean language dictionary was published by Shim Ui Rin (심의린), a Korean teacher in 1930.[20] Koreans’ efforts to publish more complete Korean dictionary was severely oppressed by Japanese General Government. In 1942, the government arrested 33 Korean scholars of Korean language for organizing the Joseon Language Society and attempting to publish a Korean language dictionary. 11 scholars were found guilty, and 5 were put to prison. The Japanese Colonial Court found them guilty because “behaviors such as publishing of a Korean language dictionary is a form of nationality movement to maintain the spirit of Joseon.”[21]

        P.165 states Korean language education was never banned under Japanese rule, but only became an elective course in 1938 by the “Decree on Education in Joseon”. However, another decree in 1943 completely banned education of Korean language.[22]

        p. 210 states Koreans wanted annexation with Japan, saying Iljinhoe, the biggest political party in Korea at the time argued for annexation. A hardcore pro-Japanese faction, the group had about 90,000 members according to a survey by Resident-General of Korea right before the annexation and was not legitimately or quantitatively representative of Korean population.[23] There had been nation-wide protests and armed resistance by Koreans against the annexation, and March 1st Movement, an anti-Japan protest in 1919 had about 2 million participants.[24]

        p. 211 states An Jung-Geun’s assassination of Ito Hirobumi accelerated Japan–Korea annexation, However, this alternative history argument has been long disputed among historians.[25]

        p. 214 states Japan abolished slavery in colonial Korea. In fact, slavery was officially abolished in 1894 by Korean government.[26]

  • JapanAsCoool

    Korean history education is so ethnocentric and biased.
    Japan has at least 15 history textbooks written by scholars, just like in the United States. History is openly debated in public, in schools, on TV, on magazines, etc., just like in the United States and other truly free nation,including western nations who wrote your honorable western text books. That’s why we Japanese have a spectrum of text books ranging from conservative to liberal.

    On the other hand, look at Korea. They only had one history book that is written by their government institution, and they do not acknowledge nor allow any other “editions” of history. Their history book reflect the views of the government, just like Chinese textbooks which are written by their communist government institution. Korean history books never mention the fact that their own army killed millions of their own people nor their aggression toward Vietnam.

    In Korea, if you challenge what’s written on the textbook, you risk your life.
    My point?  Korean don’t tolerate facts that may damage their pride.  They don’t allow different views.  Their views are often very, very ethnocentric, yet do not tolerate challenges.  Same goes for this absurd demand: East Sea.
    I mean, if you truly do a research, you’ll find that Korean argument on this dispute is hollow and with no grounds what so ever. 

    Japanese people is mocking at you, and you deserve that :)

    • bigwin80

      Is this comedy? Japanese history is far more biased and ethnocentric then Korean textbooks. Why is it that Japanese history books are always mocked and ricidculed by scholars for being inaccurate but never Korean textbooks?


      Not to mention Japanese archaeologists were caught fabricating findings and claiming that Japanese were a unique breed of people-


      You also claim that there is only one Korean textbook written by scholars. ROFLMAO. I went to amazon and typed in “Korean history” into the search engine. +7000 results.


      No one other then japan criticizes Korean textbooks. The result of the world does however mock Japanese textbooks for telling nothing but lies.

      • Brett Sanbon

        I dont really think anyone took this guy seriously anyways…

      • Portlandic

        Actually…Korean textbooks are also known for their hilarious versions of history. Every country likes to teach kids a colorful, distilled version of history that shows their own country in a good light.

        I live in a part of the US that started to teach a more objective US history that shows the English settlers for what they were in all the unflattering glory they deserve. Of course, our board of education is super liberal, while on the other end of the spectrum there are parts of the US in which they are erasing some of the more atrocious aspects of our history (including and especially slavery) because slavery is unpleasant. It’s shameful, but people are just embarrassed by the truth and nobody likes to be painted as the bad guy.

        Also, please don’t bring up “fabricating findings” in defense of Korea. That conversation would get…messy.

    • Wang that!

      LOL, give the guy a break… he is obviously one of the mentally challenged Japanese youth that the Japanese government purposefully changed their text books for…

    • Su8

      Why are all these Wapanese and nationalistic Japanese posting on this site? Look at this “JapanAsCool” hikikimori – “their aggression toward Vietnam” – conveniently leaving out the fact that your master (USA) started the war and killed millions (SK was dragged into it out of a feeling of debt towards the US because of the Korean War). Plus who are the Japanese to talk about war atrocities, when your own list of war atrocities is so long, it would make its own textbook? I don’t personally care about the East Sea issue, but I laugh at the fact that Japan wants and needs so desperately for a sea to be named after them. When two countries border a sea, it’s best to come to a neutral name similar to “Yellow Sea” that is neutral (neither of the two current names are okay, in my opinion, since one is named after a country and one is directional). Look at how nationalistic these Japanese are – that comic book link posted twice by a nationalistic Japanese is a perfect example – a best seller in a country that pretends like they’re always the victims of its neighbors and angels. No one cares whether Japanese or Wapanese mock us – their opinions are irrelevant. Realize that in Asia, only China matters.

    • Guest

      Now, Korea, there’s editions of history, not from the government. It has quitted about 2 or 3 years ago.

    • guest

      rediculous man!!

  • Stories of butts

    Holy hell man, I bet they would fight to even the smallest fish that inhabits that body of water just for the hell of it. Cant make shit like this up.

  • 404namenotfound

    FUCK YOU ALL its Great Briton’s :)

  • DigitalSoju

    The alphabetical order theory is just ridiculous.

    So let’s see:
    Afghanistan > Canada > France > Germany > Japan > Korea > United Kingdom > United States

  • onoda

    This is how “Sea of Japan” is consist.
    Of course,Korean can call that “East Sea” or “Corean Sea” in domestic.
    However they must not do that in overseas.

  • Cleo

    Japan is seriously a dagger aimed at Shanghai’s heart whilst they accuse the Corean peninsula as being aimed at Japan’s “heart” so what’s Russia conveniently with a piece of coastal real estate finally that happens to be looking right over the top of the Japanese archipelago?

    China’s Fisherman’s Wharf is between China and the Pacific Ocean. Japan doesn’t even need it since their entire Eastern Coast borders the Pacific Ocean. Think of what they will do to China if they successfully cut off that gateway.

    Let’s just go to the United Nations and get a ruling. Either way, Japan will do as it pleases but let’s get that ruling.

  • Bill in Seoul

    Of course Sea of Japan – remember they OWNED you for 35 years. Go ahead and kick the US out, then you can deal with Japan, China, and the Norks yourselves – oh wait – YOU CAN’T!

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