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East Sea in Virginia gubernatorial race

2013/10/08 04:48

By Lee Chi-dong

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7 (Yonhap) -- An unusual issue has cropped up in the gubernatorial race of the U.S. state of Virginia -- what to call the body of water between Korea and Japan.

Terry McAuliffe, a Democratic candidate, on Monday threw his weight behind a grass-roots campaign to have the name "East Sea" used in the textbooks of public schools in the state just south of Washington, D.C.

"The body of water known, alternately, as the East Sea or the Sea of Japan, should be properly labeled with both names," McAuliffe told reporters after a meeting with the Voice of Korean Americans (VoKA). VoKA was launched in January to promote the use of "the East Sea."

   If elected, he said, he would put a priority on educational system reform, which includes ensuring students have accurate understanding of the world.

McAuliffe, a businessman known as a close aide to Hillary Clinton, also vowed to improve ties between South Korea and Virginia.

He held the press conference for Korean reporters at a restaurant in Annandale, a town in northern Virginia.

His move is apparently part of efforts to reach out to Korean-American voters with the election only three weeks away.

More than 2.5 million Korean Americans reside in the U.S. and around 150,000 of them are in Virginia.

Koreans believe the original and proper name of the body of water is the East Sea. They say the Sea of Japan, which is still more popular in the international community, is a legacy of Japan's imperialistic past.

McAuliffe's Republican rival, Ken Cuccinelli, also sent a letter to the VoKA last month.

"I give my full support to the use of the dual name of the East Sea/Sea of Japan in Virginia's school test books," said the attorney general of the state. "I understand the concerns of our Korean American community and the importance of this issue."

   lcd@yna.co.kr

leechidong@gmail.com

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