The East Sea (Sea of Japan), viewed from the highway (late winter 2000).
(Please read this before you copy our photos or text.)

When Margaret had her phone interview with Mrs. Kim, the director of Best Language Institute, Mrs. Kim told her that Kangnung (Gangneung) is a resort city. This is true. Kangnung and its province, Kangwon-Do, (Gangwon) are very much tourist destinations -- maybe better described as getaways (see the 1998 film The Power of Kangwon Province for a sometimes fairly gritty look at how Koreans view Kangwon-Do).

In olden times, Kangnung was a fishing village. It's right on the Eastern coast, so the ocean is still very much a part of Kangnung's life. The beaches are a short bus ride from downtown. When you're sweltering in a steamy Korean July, you'll want to hit the beach. It's usually a good 10 degrees cooler.

And there you will find what the rest of the world calls the Sea of Japan. But with Japan's history of invading and dominating Korea (including the now-infamous "comfort women" of the Second World War), that name makes Koreans see red. They put truly astounding amounts of effort into trying to convince everybody else in the world -- especially the mapmakers -- to call it the East Sea. It's mostly hopeless. So far about as far as they've gotten is persuading a few to add their name for it in (parentheses) below "Sea of Japan."

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