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원본 :' http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2009/01/10/asia/AS-SKorea-Japan-Relations.php

South Koreans seek new relationship with Japan



SEOUL, South Korea :Oh Yeh-sol loves watching Japanese cartoons, eating sushi and drinkingsake. She believes that Tokyo's 1910-1945 colonial rule of Korea shouldbe a thing of the past.

"I think it's better to get along with them and pursue exchanges,"said Oh, 26, who recently started offering a language exchange programfor Korean and Japanese speakers in her Seoul cafe.

With Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso arriving in Seoul on Sunday,many South Koreans, including President Lee Myung-bak, say it's time tolook beyond the troubled past and build closer ties with Japan.

People "say Korea and Japan are 'close yet distant countries' but weshould be 'close and close' countries," the Japan-born Lee told Asoduring a private meeting on the sidelines of a first-ever three-waymeeting with China's leader last month. "And Korea is ready tobecome so."

Lee has pledged not to seek a new apology from Japan for the use offorced labor and sex slaves during colonial rule. He also resumedtop-level visits, which had been suspended since 2005 to protest formerJapanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to a Tokyowar shrine.


The past, however, has a way of bubbling up.

Lee's overtures took a serious hit in July when Tokyo announced itwould recommend that a government teaching manual include Japan's claimto uninhabited islets claimed by both countries.

South Korea recalled its ambassador in Tokyo for three weeks andheightened security near the islets. Activists staged near-dailyprotests in front of the Japanese Embassy. Many scholars and newspapereditorials demanded Lee toughen policy on Japan.

"Koreans view Japan's claim to (the islets) as its historicaggression," said Jin Chang-soo, a Japan expert at South Korea's SejongInstitute, a policy think tank.

On Tuesday, the dispute threatened to flare up again.

Japan's Yomiuri newspaper reported that Tokyo planned to conduct amaritime research survey in waters between the two countries. TheJapanese government denied the report, but South Korea still warnedTokyo against the plan amid media speculation that such a survey couldinclude waters near the islets.

Despite such hiccups, growing economic ties are bringing the two countries closer.

The countries are major commercial partners, with two-way tradereaching $82.6 billion in 2007. About 2.6 million South Koreanstraveled to Japan in 2007, while 2.2 million Japanese visitedSouth Korea.

The global financial crisis has bolstered cooperation, with the twocountries increasing a bilateral currency swap facility to about$20 billion.

Lee meets Aso on Monday, his sixth meeting with a Japanese leadersince taking office 11 months ago. South Korean officials say themeeting will focus on economic cooperation and efforts to stop NorthKorea's nuclear program. The islets are not on the agenda.

Among Koreans who still harbor strong resentment against Japan arethose who were sex slaves for Japanese troops during World War II. Manyfeel that earlier apologies by Japanese leaders have been insincere andare demanding a fresh one.

"They punched, kicked and beat me when I cried and refused to takeoff my clothes though I was only a 13-year-old girl at the time," said82-year-old Gil Won-ok. "We don't have many years to live. If we alldie, to whom will Japan apologize?"


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