Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Korean on NPR, and "East Sea/Sea of Japan"

The Korean appeared on NPR's Kojo Nnamdi show to discuss the pending bill on Sea of Japan/East Sea for Virginia's textbooks. You can listen to the show here. (Click "Listen" on the top left.)

A note on the Sea of Japan/East Sea issue: personally, I am agnostic about this issue. At the end of the day, I don't think it matters all that much no matter what the outcome. If we are dealing with issues of Japan's colonialism, I think the effort would be better served focusing on the issue of Comfort Women, as those women represent the most direct victims of Japanese imperialism who is being denied justice. In fact, when it comes to addressing the dark legacy of Japan's colonialism, there are several more issues that I would devote my energy before I get to the Sea of Japan/East Sea issue.

But then again, people have different priorities than the Korean's. And that's fine, as long as those priorities are within reasonable boundaries. And there should be no question that the attempt to list both "Sea of Japan" and "East Sea" is a reasonable effort to address the stain of Japan's imperialism. As I said in the broadcast, it is an American tradition for immigrant communities to express their views on world history, and ensure their children and other children who study with them are introduced to such perspectives. This is such a natural desire that even the representative of the Japanese Embassy tripped up and said he would prefer his children to learn about all sides of the issue, even as he was claiming that there was only one correct name for the sea.

Indeed, the makeup of the show's guests was telling. "Korean side" had a local small businessman and a blogger; "Japanese side" had the embassy representative. If you ever thought Koreans were the ones who were too sensitive to the historical issues, think again.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at


  1. I must have missed that episode - but I listen to Kojo almost every day at lunch. He's always so well prepared and on point. He came to the US from Guyana when he was 22 and has a fascinating sounding voice (at least ... to me it is).

    1. I am in love with Kojo's voice. I also love the way he says his last name, like: "Kojo Nnaaaaaaaamdi show."

  2. Lol, for a second there, I thought the host screwed up and said your real name when he said "Peter- I mean, T.K. of..."


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