Huh. Five years. Who'da thunk it? We'll see what the next five years holds. And the first post was about the island that shall not be named and territorial claims to it appearing in the Buddha's Birthday parade. Fun times. As Nathan at Korea Beat wrote awhile ago,
I remember back in 2005 suddenly having my afternoon lessons cancelled so that students could be "educated" about Dokdo, which really meant listening to some speeches and then memorizing a Dokdo song.As he notes, that was in middle school, but learning the Dokdo song was something that took place in elementary schools as well. I remember hearing it preceded by, "미국 똥! 외국 똥! 캐나다 똥!" Yup, good times. Ah, let's forget about it and look at these cute stickers!
My friend Andrew found these in a stationery store at the time and gave me one. As Korea Beat notes here (and also in an article here), the curriculum has been altered to allow for more Dokdo education.
Under the new curriculum middle school students will study four areas of history rather than three, and two of the areas will include depictions of Dokdo.I wonder, this administration being what it is, if this will mean dropping that whole useless 'democracy movement' chapter. This was interesting as well:
When data on the agreement regarding the illegal seizure of Dokdo by Japan is investigated, the problems are clear... the need to properly remember history can be clearly seen when one investigates the invasions of Southeast Asian lands, historical troubles, and other longstanding problems."I imagine by "invasions of Southeast Asian lands" they aren't referring to Korean participation in Vietnam.
At any rate, Dokdo education is going strong, it seems, judging by this display I saw in the center of an elementary school in eastern Seoul:
There are maps, more maps, video, models - everything you need to indoctrinate young children. One thing is for sure though - whoever is making those models of the islands must be making a killing. I saw these ones in Gimpo Airport subway station last week:
My two cents: I think Dokdo serves the same purpose in South Korea as Anti-Americanism does in North Korea - it serves to whip elements of the public up into a pavlovian-response nationalist/xenophobic lather at the drop of a hat and distract people from more important issues (or help unpopular politicians raise their approval ratings, much as Roh Moo-hyeon and his 'diplomatic war' of 2005 did). Hence the need to teach this to children at a young age. Korea could solve the 'problem' by pressing their claim, but why would the government want to get rid of such a useful mobilization tool? Similarly, B.R. Myers argues that better relations with the US would deprive the DPRK of its justification for poverty and for the military-first policy that is said to be responsible for it.