South Korea erects monument on Dokdo to mark presidential visit

Kyodo

South Korea on Sunday unveiled a monument on Dokdo to commemorate President Lee Myung Bak’s visit there last week, prompting a protest from Japan, which claims the rocky islets as Takeshima.

Lee’s unprecedented visit last Friday triggered a diplomatic storm with Japan, which recalled its ambassador to Seoul in protest. Exchange programs between the two countries have since been suspended.

The disputed islets lie roughly halfway between South Korea and Japan.

The monument “will become a symbol of Korean sovereignty and the spirit of defending Dokdo,” South Korea’s Public Administration and Security Minister Maeng Hyung Kyu said at the ceremony, according to officials of North Gyeongsang Province, which oversees the islets.

The 1.2-meter tall stone monument was erected in front of a building that houses a South Korean security garrison stationed on the island.

The Japanese Embassy in Seoul lodged a protest with South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade over the monument, Japanese embassy officials said.