Dokdo: Special Envoys to The Hague

About 120 years ago …

Imperialism was sweeping through the world.

The Japanese government was armed with superior military power.

Japan went after Korea’s diplomatic rights.

It began lobbying the Western powers and laying the groundwork.

In 1895, Japan killed Empress Myeongseong.

The queen actively engaged in diplomatic activities to protect Korea.

In 1904, Japan forced Korea to sign a protocol to use Korea as a logistics base.

In the same year, Japan also forced Korea to sign “the Japan-Korea Agreement” to allow Japanese intervention in Korea’s domestic affairs.

Japan took further action to suppress the influence of world opinion on its military campaign against Korea.
Japan waged the Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese War.

With its victory in both wars, Japan increased its influence over Korea.

In 1905, Japan coerced Emperor Gojong and the cabinet into signing the Eulsa Protectorate Treaty.

Japan deprived Korea of its diplomatic rights and recalled Korean diplomats.

Despite Japan’s pressure, Gojong secretly engaged in diplomatic activities.

Have you heard of the Special Korean envoys to The Hague?

Special envoys to The Hague
In 1907, Gojong appointed Yi Jun, Yi Sang-Seol and Yi Wi-Jong to a secret delegation.

The delegation had to bypass Japan’s surveillance.

The mission of the delegation was to attend the Second Hague Peace Conference in the Netherlands.

It was Gojong’s desperate attempt to expose the illegitimacy of the Eulsa Protectorate Treaty to the world.

For the crucial mission, the delegation travelled far to get to the Netherlands.

The Peace Conference was an event for world leaders to gather to discuss peace.

Gojong hoped the delegation would get a chance to appeal to the world.

His goal was to reveal that the Eulsa Protectorate Treaty was forced upon him against his will.

He wanted to invalidate the treaty by exposing the illegitimacy of the process.

The delegation made every effort to attend the conference as representatives of Korea. 

They asked many other national leaders for help.

Japan soon noticed their efforts and began sabotaging the delegation. 

The conference accepted Japan’s position that Korea no longer had diplomatic rights.

The delegation was rejected for admission and the right to speak at the conference.

Following the rejection, they sent letters to the delegates of each nation to prove their position as qualified delegates.

On July 9, they managed to attend a press conference hosted by British journalist William T. Stead.

There they made a speech, “A Plea for Korea.”

They described the wrongdoing of Japan and the situation in Korea, and many foreign media covered their story.

However, world politics was dominated by imperialistic powers.
They failed to gain concrete results.

During their efforts, Yi Jun suddenly died on July 14.

The rest of the delegation grieved the loss.

Their mission ended in failure.

Japan accused Gojong of sending a delegation without their permission.

On July 19, 1907, Japan deposed Gojong.

On August 22, 1910, Japan created the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty, which officially turned Korea into a colony.

Korea became a logistics base to support the Japanese invasion of other Asian countries. 
Special envoys to The Hague
Their failure did not just end with Korea’s loss of sovereignty.

The Manchurian Incident (1931)
The Sino-Japanese War (1937)
The Pacific War (1941)

Japan took the lives of many innocent people in other countries, using Korea as its base.

The efforts of the Hague delegation slowly faded into the shadows of history.

However, there still are 21st century Hague special envoys.

On September 26, 2012, Japanese Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko delivered a speech to the United Nations General Assembly.

In his speech, he attempted to gain international support for their position on Dokdo and the Diaoyu Island.

He argued for the need for cooperation on these territorial issues.

Specifically, he asked to bring the issues to the International Court of Justice.

The Prime Minister, as the representative of Japan, asserted his opinion on its territorial right over Dokdo in an international public sphere.

That is an utter denial of Korea’s complete independence and sovereignty.

Even before the annexation of Korea, Japan took control of Dokdo in 1905.

For Koreans, Dokdo is a symbol of the Japanese colonial rule that soon followed. 

Japan’s claim over Dokdo is not a simple denial of Korea’s full sovereignty.

It also means the revival of Japan’s imperialism in the 21st century.

Please help us inform the world that Dokdo is a symbol of Japanese imperialism.

You can be a 21st century Hague special envoy.  

Do you know there are 21st century Hague special envoys even in Japan?

Nobel literature laureate Kenzaburo Oe and 1,270 Japanese intellectuals

On September 28, 2012, they made a civic statement.

“To the Korean people, Dokdo is a symbol of Japanese aggression and colonial rule … Japan should reflect on its historical issues.”

“Japan annexed Dokdo at a time when Korea was the weakest and had no way to make a diplomatic demand.”

“The people of Japan must understand that Dokdo is not simply an island to Korea, but a starting point and symbol for invasion and colonial rule.”

They called on the Japanese government to seriously reflect on its annexation of Dokdo.

Japanese novelist Murakami Haruki also made a public remark on September 28 in the Asahi Newspaper.

“In the 1930s, Adolf Hitler solidified the basis for his power by trumpeting the recovery of lost territory.”

“We are aware what outcome this brought about.”

“We should not let territorial issues block people’s interaction.”

Murakami recognizes that Japan’s claim of sovereignty over Dokdo dampens its cultural exchanges with other Asian countries.

As these examples indicate, there are Japanese people who understand the importance of Japan’s self-reflection on history.

Like the Korean special envoys to The Hague in the 1900s, they are trying to remind the Japanese people of Japan’s past aggression toward Asia.

There are 21st century Hague special envoys even in Europe, opposing the revival of Japanese imperialism.

“Japan’s claim over Dokdo can only be seen as a form of expansionism.”
- El Mundo, a leading Spanish daily newspaper (September 25, 2012)

“Conflict over Dokdo is rooted in deeper issues.”

“Japan has never fully taken responsibility for its wrongdoings against Korea.”
- L’Express, French weekly news magazine

“Japan’s reluctance to reflect on history plays an important role in its territorial disputes with China and Korea.”

“Japan, like Germany, was the aggressor in the Second World War. It should carefully reflect on its war history.”
- Deutschlandradio, a German public radio broadcaster

“There is a real reason behind Japan’s repeated conflicts with its neighbors.”

“Japan has never made an effort to face up to its wartime crimes.”
- Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), a German center-left newspaper

“Japan has shown no leadership in Asia.”

“It has also been seen to behave with a stunning lack of conscience of its past atrocities.”
- A letter to Financial Times (UK) by Dr. Jean-Pierre Lehmann

Many major media outlets are speaking up like 21st century Hague special envoys.

They all criticize the revival of Japanese imperialism.

Of course, there are 21st century Hague special envoys in Korea.

As in October 2012, VANK has 100 thousand Korean members.

Our mission is to train them to be 21st century Hague special envoys to stop the revival of Japanese imperialism.

We hope they will act as peacemakers and lead historical reconciliation in Asia.

Exploitation of resources
Slaughter of civilians
Forced conscriptions
Military sex slaves (“comfort women”)
Torture and abuse

The incorporation of Dokdo was only the beginning of many other tragedies.

We should stop the revival of Japanese imperialism that has already taken numerous innocent lives.

Our primary goal is to lead reconciliation and keep the peace in Asia. 

Here, VANK speaks to the 7 billion people of the world.

Dokdo is a symbol of Japanese imperialism.

We will work hard to prevent the repeat of such tragedies in the world.

We will promote the fact that Dokdo is not just a small part of Korean territory, but also a symbol of our national pride. 

It will take time to fully recover from the damage that was caused during the Japanese occupation, but we will succeed.

Many Asian countries, like Korea, are still suffering from the lingering legacy of imperialism.

The history of imperialism is the deep root of many territorial and historical conflicts in Asia.

Young Koreans pursue becoming peacemakers for peace in Asia.

We will lead Asia to the path of peace.

Together, we will build lasting peace in the world. 


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