m a r k a n d e y a

Dokdo Riders

Posted by Brian on February 26, 2006

It’s articles in the Korean media like this one that make a joy to be a blogger on Korean issues.

The story: five adventurous young men calling themselves the Dokdo Riders will travel the world spreading the news about Korea’s rightful ownership of Dokdo (aka Dok Island). Here’s the genesis of the trip:

“I first thought up the trip during my military service after I read the book, Success Is A Journey,” said Kang Sang-kyun, the 25-year-old leader of the group. Brain Tracy`s account of a journey taken with friends from the west coast of America to South Africa by car, inspired Kang to design his own journey.He found a friend in the military, Yi Gang-seok, 25, who shared his dream. Yi then persuaded three more friends to join in the plan. Kim Young-been, the third to join the group, offered the idea of a motorcycle trip. The motorcycle was an icon that symbolized romanticized freedom and departure from the confined, strict atmosphere of the military.

When the territorial dispute over the Dokdo islets escalated last March after Japan`s Shimane prefecture declared Feb. 22 as “Takeshima day,” Kang got the idea of adding the “Dokdo cause” to his trip, which brought along the publicity. “Takeshima” is the Japanese name for the islets that Koreans call Dokdo.

The cynic in me thinks that the “Dokdo cause” just might be an easy way to pick up some funding for their journey. Rather than bust their asses trying to fund this trip themselves, they could have figured they could just slap the label “Dokdo” on the trip and – boom – instant publicity. How many Korean companies would love to attach their name to this little stunt in some capacity or another?

How will they go about preaching their message? The story continues:

They will also conduct a street campaign to collect signatures to support Korea`s claim to the Dokdo islets. They will perform “Samulnori,” the Korean traditional dance involving drums and “loud music” to attract people`s attention, mainly on university campuses or public squares. “We`ll hand out pamphlets and souvenirs to people who stop by to watch us,” said Kim.

I’ve grown accustomed to the cacaphony of the streets of Seoul, with every vendor blasting loud music in hopes of attracting customers to their shop. But blaring loud music in American cities seems like a case of Korean people taking Korean cultural trends and applying them in the west, expecting to get the same response. I wonder how Joe Six-pack will respond to the Dokdo Riders polluting the air with loud music in hopes of attracting attention to their cause.

As has been said by other bloggers, these kids need a serious schooling in what the world cares about and what it doesn’t. Genocide in Africa barely registers in the minds of most Americans, so why on earth would ownership of a couple of rocks in the middle of nowhere strike a cord?

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2 Responses to “Dokdo Riders”

  1. I predict most people they meet will kind of be like: “Huh? Where are these rocks?”. Seems kind of amazing to show such passion for Dokdo when their Northern cousins are starving and imprisoning their own people on a daily basis, but then again, when did blind nationalismj ever make sense?

  2. As a good said early one morning back in 1989 as we sat on a Chinhae street corner waiting for our Kuk Sool Won instructor to arrive while listing to the garbage truck blaring its music and the the guy walking ahead of the garbage truck banging on his little handheld gong to alert people of the impending arrival of the garbage truck, “You know…Back home in Phoenix, if someone were to make that loud of noise on the street, it would go something like this: ding-a ding-a ding-a BANG!”

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