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KOREA: Yahoo under fire for flawed data

Yahoo heavily criticized in Korea for alleged erroneous geographical terminology in its map services

Korea Times
Sunday, May 21, 2006

By Kim Tae-gyu

Yahoo!, one of the world's biggest Web portal sites, erroneously describes the "South Sea" as the "Japan Sea," according to a local non-governmental organization on Sunday.

The Voluntary Agency Network of Korea (VANK) found that Yahoo! offers maps that have mistakes, even for inshore areas of the country's south.

For example, Masan, the port city in South Kyongsang Province, is situated adjoining the Japan Sea on the Yahoo! Map here.

The U.S.-based portal also adopted the term Japan Sea to refer to the waters separating the Korean Peninsula and Japan instead of the "East Sea," as it is called here.

The map at issue does not label Korea's Dokdo islets in the East Sea that Tokyo claims and just names the surrounding sea as the Japan Sea.

VANK contends the misnomers demonstrate that Yahoo! is tilting toward Japan in the standoff between Korea and Japan on Dokdo as the site's encyclopedia also dubs the islets "Liancourt Rocks."

"Yahoo! is one of the most influential Web sites in the world and its map services are introduced as a major service at the start-up page," a VANK official said.

"But Yahoo! does not deal with the historic background of Dokdo and regards it just as a disputed area, calling it as Liancourt Rocks," he said.

Tokyo once tried to spread the name of Liancourt Rocks to make the world recognize the islets as a disputed area. Le Liancourt, a French whaler, thought he first found the islets in 1849 and named them after himself.

Japan's rationale was that the islands belonged to no state before then, according to VANK. Later, Tokyo launched a campaign to have them called Takeshima and claimed sovereignty over them.

VANK is a non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting a positive image of Korea, mainly by requiring foreign Web sites to correct false information about the nation.

Date Posted: 5/21/2006

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