SEOUL, April 5 (Korea Bizwire) – Shortly after North Korea’s ballistic missile launch on Wednesday, the U.S. military issued a statement that may add to the anger of Koreans over the naming of the waters between the peninsula and Japan.
In a five-paragraph document posted on its website, the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), headquartered in Hawaii, confirmed the North’s firing of a missile, saying it flew nine minutes before falling into the “Sea of Japan.”
Almost simultaneously, the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) here uploaded a statement on its own homepage with mostly the same content.
The only differences were the time, as PACOM’s version is based on Hawaii time and the USFK’s notes Korean standard time, and the name of the waters, which Koreans call the East Sea.
The USFK’s statement said the missile landed in “waters East of the Korean Peninsula.”
Some South Korean journalists stationed at the defense ministry’s press room complained about PACOM’s use of the Sea of Japan alone in the official document directly involving Korea and read by many people in the key regional ally.
They stressed the U.S. military should have used the East Sea name as well, as the international name of the body of water also bordered by Russia is disputed.
Koreans point out that Japan’s naming dates back to its 1910-45 colonial rule of the peninsula and it’s unfair to use it only.
A USFK official told Yonhap News Agency that his office modified PACOM’s version.
“We are aware of the issue, which is not new,” he said, requesting anonymity. “PACOM is just following the U.S. government position on the geographical name decided by its maritime-boundary agency.”