South Korean schools to teach about Dokdo islands dispute
South Korean children will be taught about Dokdo chain, which is also claimed by Japan
South Korean schoolchildren will receive mandatory classes explaining the nation's claims to ownership of a set of islands that are also claimed by Japan, the education ministry says.
Beginning this year, all schools will be required to provide a minimum of 10 hours of classes annually on "the importance of Dokdo", a ministry spokesman said.
The South Korea-controlled islets in the Sea of Japan, known to Koreans as the East Sea, are called Takeshima in Japan and are the subject of a decades-old territorial dispute.
Japan held an annual rally last week to promote its claim to the island chain. Hundreds of people attended, including the highest-ranking Japanese government official ever sent to the event.
South Korea, which had urged Tokyo to cancel Friday's rally, reacted angrily and hundreds of activists staged a protest outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul.
An association of South Korean shop owners has urged millions of its members to boycott Japanese goods, including cigarettes and beer.
The education ministry said the Dokdo classes were aimed at countering what it saw as a growing disinformation campaign by Tokyo.
"Some schools have already offered such Dokdo-related classes, but we viewed it necessary to set specific hours," the spokesman said.
Tomorrow, a state-funded education centre, known as the "Dokdo School" will be officially dedicated in the city of Cheonan, providing historical background on the islets.
Relations between South Korea and Japan have been strained by the dispute and other contentious issues arising from Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule over the Korean peninsula.