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North East Asia: A Region Filled with Animosity

I could hear the protesters walking out of the Seoul subway station. Rounding the corner,
I saw the familiar spread of flyers claiming South Koreas ownership of the Dokdo Islands, or, to
the Japanese, the Takeshima Islands. I felt puzzled, as I had witnessed these same protests a year
prior. Upon my return to the United States, I began to research the Dokdo controversy and its
importance. Unintentionally, I discovered that it is one of a number of issues creating hostility in
North East Asia.
South Korea, China, and Japan, three economic dragons, have been locked in political
struggles since Japans colonization efforts over them in the early 1900s. During this period
Japan claimed several islands, originally belonging South Korea and China, as their own. This
colonization created much of the animosity that permeates the region today. Currently, China and
Japan both claim ownership of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands and South Korea and Japan of the
Dokdo/Takeshima Islands. China and South Korea also request that the Sea of Japan, which
reminds them of Japans colonial rule, be renamed to the East Sea, against Japans wishes.
South Korea and China also call for Japan as a whole to sincerely apologize for the forced
prostitution of over two hundred thousand girls and women (comfort women) during their
colonization periods. Both countries felt jilted by Japans previous retracted apologies and
antagonistic statements.
Nations worldwide have begun to see the consequences of China, Japan, and South
Koreas animosity, making this a slowly growing international issue that has the potential to
explode exponentially. In late October 2014, China announced that it would equip some sixty
submarines with long range nuclear missiles. Nations around the world fear that China will
occupy the Sea of Japan in the future, to claim the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. This past year, Japan
scrambled over three hundred Chinese jets that have flown close to these islands, causing an
international aviation safety concern. Protests for South Koreas issues have breached local
governments abroad, threatening nations like the United States official stances on these issues.
Should all three nations be left to quarrel, military action could ensue, potentially affecting
commerce and security worldwide. Resolving these issues now will prevent future escalations.
To resolve these disputes, a delicate balance of agreements between all three nations must
be achieved. This way, they can start to rebuild their political relationship, restoring a level of
peace in East Asia. All three nations should attend a conference in Geneva, with Switzerland as
the moderator. Switzerland is a neutral country with nothing to gain from any agreements these
countries make. In regards to the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, Japan should accept Chinas previous
offer of co-ownership. Both countries will share the expenses and profits of oil drilling in that
area. For the Dokdo/Takeshima Islands, sovereignty will go to South Korea since the islands
only inhabitants are Korean. Japan and South Korea will discuss terms for natural gas drilling,
giving Japan a small percentage of the profits indefinitely.
For the longstanding issue of the comfort women, during this conference, Japan should
agree to formally submit a final apology for the treatment of Chinese and Korean females during
their colonization periods. South Korea and China should formally accept this apology and

recognize that Japan cannot suppress the voices of the people and politicians who disagree with
their apology. Japan will also be asked to host a human rights conference in the next four years to
reflect on all injustices, past and present. Japan will also continue to support the Asian Womens
The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) previously recognized the Sea of
Japan naming in 2012, and will review it again in 2017. China, South Korea and Japan should
attend this review and make their case for their preferred naming. Since the IHO is the
international governing body for the naming of all bodies of water, their decision will be final.
All three nations should agree to halt all international lobbying on the issue so that no nation is
forced to choose a stance. Japan, China, and South Korea, with all issues resolved, would then be
able to start focusing on building strong political relationships with each other.

Activity Essay:
Freshman year I noticed an underlying problem in our school culture; the treatment of
special education students. They went through their days in the shadows, constantly being
reminded of their disabilities. They never fought back and simply kept on walking. This
reminded me so much of what I had to go through in middle school; the stares, the mocking; and
I wanted to try to help those classmates so they would not have to suffer every day like I did. I
suggested that the Friends Club should be revived and with the help of a few interested upper
classmen and faculty, we were up and running.
We started off with only four general education students, but the number of students
involved did not matter, only our wish to help. The first year started off slowly as we recruited
members and planned our first group outings to sports games and the movies. Presently, we have
over ninety members and are the largest club in my school. Ive found it heartwarming to see
how close both the general education and special education students have grown over the years. I
hear from my classmates daily that they are having their first sleepover or sitting with their new
friend at lunch.The looks of joy on their face would warm anyones hearts. It pained me that
several classmates had not gone to the movies with friends before we planned a trip there, but
now things have changed. Our school is now a community where everyone is treated with
respect and no one is looked down upon because of a disability. Through my groups efforts we
have managed to break down this social barrier existing in the school, and have helped students
make the most out of their high school experience.
Bio Essay

Mianhaeyo, naneun mulayo. I said.

My friend looks at me confused. I think she did not hear me and I repeated it again.
Me lo siento. Yo no s.
My friend still stared at me blankly. Is she having hearing problems? I thought.
What language are you speaking? She asked me. I do not understand what you just said.
The realization of what I just did hit me in an instant. Was I really not speaking English? I
guess it had become difficult for me to differentiate between English, Korean, and Spanish now;
the words simply flowed out. I apologized and said the same thing again, only this time I made
sure I said it in English. Thinking in three different languages proved a challenge; I had to
constantly be aware of what language I should be speaking versus what language I am thinking
in. When I said that I wanted to learn seven more languages, some people called me crazy. I
almost wanted to agree with them because I cannot imagine how difficult it will be to keep my
thoughts and words in sync then.
Everyday people bombard me with questions; why do you speak Korean when you do not
look Korean? Are you adopted? Why would a Hispanic person study Korean? Why do you want
to learn any language at all besides English; and in response I can't help but, give a sad smile.
Was it really so strange for me to embrace other languages and cultures? Would I no longer be
me if I strayed outside of my family's culture? I dont think that either of these are true. I see the
world as an interconnected society, made up of numerous cultures and peoples. Those around me
did not share this viewpoint. They felt uncomfortable with everything "not American", favoring
the apple pies, Sunday football, and English that they knew and loved. Strangely, I think people
seldom remember that the United States is a nation of immigrants, of foreigners they were
uncomfortable with.
I still don't understand why I became so different from those around me. I grew up in a
sheltered Spanish family, barely able to name the states, let alone other countries. My family and
town were all that I knew. I think the day I first heard about Korea something in me was ignited;
a burning passion to understand everything foreign to me. I relish the feeling of discovering
something new because by learning about other cultures, I also learnt more about myself; my
values, my goals. I understood that I am not defined by my race, but by my actions and beliefs. I

realized that I am a global citizen, one that believes mutual understanding between people can
pave the way for world peace. This cannot happen if others do not see the interconnectedness of
the world around them; that understanding other cultures does not mean they sacrifice their own.
As a living example of this, I can confidently say that I am myself, my love of Korean included.