KOREA: Google Earth criticized over geographical names
Korean netizens critize Google's map search program for what they say is the misnaming of an island
The Korea Herald
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
By Kim Yoon mi
Google Earth, a virtual program showing maps and the geography of the earth with satellite images, is facing criticism from Korean netizens for what they claim is the "wrong" use of Korea's geographical names.
The issue at the center is Dokdo, islets located in the East Sea, and Mount Baekdu, located on the border of North Korea and China.
For example, even if a user types Dokdo in the search box, the island is shown with several names such as "Takeshima, Japanese Island," which is the name claimed by Japan, and "Liancourt Rocks," which was named after a French whaling ship that went to the small islands in the 1800s.
When clicking on the takeshima icon, it appears that the name was given by users of the photo sharing website, Panoramio, one of the self updating information providers for Google Earth.
Dokdo is a sensitive issue for Korean people because it symbolizes the nation's liberation from 35 years of Japanese colonial rule in 1945. The Korean government has been strongly promoting Korea's claim to Dokdo overseas, as well, citing the long history of Korea's control of Dokdo. However, Japan also claims that the islets are its territory, citing its own history.
The islets are currently under the control of Korea.
The issue is getting more attention in Korea as the nation marks Liberation Day today.
Another controversial place is Mount Baekdu, which is given the Chinese name Chanbai by Google Earth.
When clicking on the Chanbai icon, the texts reads, "Chanbai mountain, China," as it is also named by Panoramio users.
In particular, Cheonji Lake at the peak inaccurately appears as fully included in the Chinese territory in the Google Earth image.
However, North Korea and China agreed in the 1960s to share the mountain and the lake at the peak, with Korea controlling 54.5 percent of it.
An online user named Darkpret from the Naver website expressed anger over these names, and said the Korean government should exert its full diplomatic efforts to clarify the nation's territory in the program.
This is not the first time Google Earth has been criticized. In January, the South Korean government expressed concerns that satellite images of the presidential office and military facilities on the Google Earth program could be used by North Korea.
Meanwhile, as Google Korea is expected to launch its Korean version of Google Earth within the year, company spokesperson Kim Kyeong suk said that "much attention from Korean netizens will help us prepare for better service, and their advice will be reflected in the launching preparations."
Date Posted: 8/15/2007