S. Koreans Claim Islands— by Swimming to Them

Japan also claims disputed Dokdo/Takeshima islands
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 13, 2012 9:15 AM CDT
S. Koreans Claim Islands— by Swimming to Them
South Korean students hold a national flag while swimming in the waters off the port city of Uljin, South Korea, Monday, Aug. 13, 2012.   (AP Photo/Yonhap, Han Jong-chan)

South Korea is reasserting its control over disputed islands in a rather creative fashion: A singer and a team of students will swim a 144-mile, 55-hour relay to the site, arriving on Wednesday. That just so happens to be Liberation Day, which marks the country's independence from Japan. Tokyo has also claimed sovereignty over what Koreans call the Dokdo islands; to the Japanese, they're the Takeshima islands, the AFP reports. In the US, they're called Liancourt Rocks. The swim comes as tensions grow over the islands.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak visited the islands on Friday and called them "worthy of sacrificing our lives." That same day, Koreans held up signs declaring their claim at the Olympics; one winning soccer player who did so was barred from attending his medals ceremony. The next day, the Japanese foreign minister threatened an International Court of Justice lawsuit over the island dispute. In the past, both countries have shied away from international arbitration, since both fear losing, the Wall Street Journal notes. Japan says it took the islands during a century-old colonial expansion, but South Korean police have patrolled them since 1954. (More South Korea stories.)

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