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The Adoption of the Name “East Sea”
East Sea is a separated-from-the-ocean marginal sea being bordered by the northeastern area of the Asian mainland, the Korean Peninsula, Primorsky Kray, the Japanese archipelago, and the island of Sakhalin. The Japanese archipelago separates the sea from the Pacific Ocean. The sea has a surface area of about 1,007,300 ㎢ and measures approximately 1,110 km across, east to west, and 1,700 km from north to south.
The name “East Sea” was recorded on the Stele of King Gwanggaeto the Great of the Goguryeo Kingdom – erected in 414 by King Jangsu of Goguryeo as a memorial to his deceased father – which stands near the tomb of King Gwanggaeto in what is today the city of Jian along the Yalu River in present-day northeast China, which was the capital of Goguryeo at that time. Meanwhile, the name of “the Sea of Japan” was mentioned for the first time in A Map of the Myriad Countries of the World (坤輿萬國全圖; Kunyu Wanguo Quantu in Chinese) – or Mappamondo – produced in 1602 by the Italian Catholic missionary Matteo Ricci. This shows that the name of “the Sea of Japan” was created 1,600 years after the Korean people called the sea East Sea.
The Stele of King Gwanggaeto the Great
The name “East Sea” was recorded on the Stele of King Gwanggaeto the Great which stands near the tomb of King Gwanggaeto in what is today the city of Jian along the Yalu River in present-day northeast China, which was the capital of Goguryeo at that time. The stele was erected in 414 by King Jangsu of Goguryeo as a memorial to his deceased father.
The name “East Sea” can be easily found in the old maps of Korea that were produced after the 16thcentury. It was clearly found in “The Eight Provinces of Korea (Paldo Chongdo)” – the first map introduced in Augmented Survey of the Geography of Korea (新增東國輿地勝覽; Sinjeung-donggukyeojiseungnam) made in 1531. The world’s geography community is generally of the opinion that the criterion of the deciding the geographical names should reflect the “historicity” and “representability.” From this perspective, the sea bordered by the Korean Peninsula and Japan should be called “East Sea.” It is because, unlike the name of “the Sea of Japan” used only for more or less 200 years, the name “East Sea” has been used for more than 2,000 years and thus has “historicity” and “representability.”
“The Entire Provinces of Josun” in Augmented Survey of the Geography of Korea
The name “East Sea” can be easily found in the old maps of Korea that were produced after the 16th century. It was clearly found in “The Eight Provinces of Korea (Paldo Chongdo)” – the first map introduced in Augmented Survey of the Geography of Korea (Sinjeung-donggukyeojiseungnam) made in 1531.