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2011 Dokdo Festival Updated: 2011-03-04 00:00:00 KST

Seoul Plaza is unusually crowded for this early hour, filled with some 300 people including members from a civilian diplomatic group called VANK, volunteers, experts on Dokdo, and a horde of reporters.

[Interview : ] "VANK! V-Squad!"

[Interview : ] "Bus No. 9! Bus No. 9!"

[Interview : Im Na-yeon, Member
V-Squad ] "Singer Kim Jang-hoon invited V-Squad to the Dokdo Festival. So our members from Gwangju, Daegu, Busan, and Daejeon have gathered here to go to the Dokdo Islets."

[Interview : Kim Seok-jae, Member
VANK ] "Thanks to the Dokdo Festival I finally have a chance to visit the Dokdo Islets. I find it very meaningful that I get to see Dokdo, which is our territory, with my own eyes."

[Interview : ] "V-Squad!"

[Interview : ] "Dokdo belongs to Korea!"

[Interview : Seo Kyoung-duk, Korea PR Expert] "We've planned the Dokdo Festival with singer Kim Jang-hoon. We wanted to take the focus away from territorial disputes and create an event that would promote the islets to the world in the context of culture and tourism. That's why we ran a full-page ad in the New York
Times a few days ago under the themes "Visit Korea" and "Visit Dokdo." So the Dokdo Festival is a performance that introduces the islets to the international community as a tourist destination."

The Islets of Dokdo have emerged as an international issue when Japan began to claim sovereignty over them, despite clear evidence that they are part of Korea's territory. To help fix the problem, professor and PR expert Seo Kyoung-duk, and singer Kim Jang-hoon have run several ads in well-known foreign media outlets.

And now, they are about to host an exciting festival in Dokdo. On February 28th, the participants set off together for Gangneung Port.

Alas, it has begun to snow along the eastern coast. Greeting the Dokdo expedition team with startling reddish orange hair is none other than Kim Jang-hoon. Having come to Gangneung earlier, he is busily untangling the schedule that has been affected by the bad weather.

[Interview : Kim Jang-hoon, Singer] "Would somebody please tell me what I should do in this situation[Interview : ] "Our Dokdo teams will never give up.
They're willing to go all the way."

[Interview : ] "We will go to Dokdo!"

[Interview : ] "Rain and snow cannot stop the V-Squad!"

[Interview : Kim Jang-hoon, Singer] "A high sea warning has been issued today for the East Sea, so the boat cannot set sail. We're thinking about heading to Dokdo at 8 AM tomorrow."

The reporters are busy relaying the news that all will go as planned.

[Interview : Kim Jang-hoon, Singer] "As bad as the weather may be, I will perform passionately for 30 minutes on the makeshift stage set up here."

To the astonishment of everyone, a surprise concert is held at Gangneung Port to encourage the determined expedition team. Kim Jang-hoon's signature kicking performance seems even more energetic and lively than usual.

[Interview : Choi Jeong-hui, Member
V-Squad ] "I had such a good time today. Although we couldn't visit the Dokdo Islets today and we may not be able to go tomorrow, the surprise concert made the experience very enjoyable. Hurrah for the V-Squad!
Hurrah for the Dokdo Concert!"

[Interview : Kang Dae-yeop, Member
V-Squad ] "After watching the surprise concert, I felt an even stronger desire to see and visit the Dokdo Islets. I really want to go."

[Interview : ] "Hurrah for Kim Jang-hoon's Dokdo Festival!"

To everyone's delight, the boat is finally cleared to set sail the next morning.

[Interview : Kim Jang-hoon, Singer] "We are about to set sail, and this weak applause is all you've got[Interview : Yun Jun-sik, Member
V-Squad ] "My heart is brimming with hope at the thought of finally going to Dokdo and seeing it with my own eyes."

[Interview : An Hong-gi, Member
V-Squad ] "Although we have set sail, due to the weather it's still unclear as to whether we'll be able to land or not. But I am positive that we'll make it."

#. 떠나는 배 5“ /

[Interview : ] "Due to the high sea, the boat is experiencing a lot of disturbance. We ask the passengers to remain seated and refrain from moving about. Thank you."

Withstanding strong winds and waves, the boat heads toward Dokdo, a 3 hour ride from Gangneung Port.

[Interview : Lee Hyeon-gyeong, Member
V-Squad ] "Oh gosh! In 2007 Kim Jang-hoon's fans volunteered at the oil spill site on the West Coast of Korea. But I think this journey to Dokdo is
our toughest challenge to date. I am frightened, but I don't regret having come here. Oh gosh."

The black-tailed gulls and the coast guards greet the Dokdo expedition team. As the members pile out of the boat, the stunning scenery that meets their eyes make them forget about their seasickness and the rain.

[Interview : ] "Let's embrace Dokdo and promote Korea to the globe!"

[Interview : Jeong Yu-shin, Member
VANK ] "Despite the inclement weather, I am very happy to be standing on the Dokdo Islets."

[Interview : Park Jeong-hun, Member
VANK ] "They say Dokdo is the home of birds. Although it's a sparsely settled area, the beautiful Dokdo with its birds and breathtaking nature is a priceless gem of Korea."

This moment is especially thrilling for Kim Jang-hoon, who devoted two long years to prepare for the Dokdo Festival and even paid for the travel expenses of 300 participants out of his own pocket. The coast guards are equally happy to see the singer.

[Interview : Song Jae-cheon, Coast guard] "I am moved to see such a large crowd coming all the way to Dokdo to show their support for the islets. On behalf of the Dokdo coast guards, I want to express our gratitude. Thank you."

Professor Seo, who also made this feat possible, gives a lecture to his eager audience.

[Interview : Seo Kyoung-duk, Korea PR Expert] "What really matters is our continued interest in and affection for the Dokdo Islets. I believe it is important for us to show our unwavering love for Dokdo at all times, and not just burst into short-lived fits of rage whenever a Japanese politician claims that Dokdo belongs to Japan."

[Interview : ] "Hurrah for Korea!"

[Interview : ] "I can't hear you!"

[Interview : ] "Hurrah for Dokdo!"

[Interview : Sim Sang-hyeok, Member
VANK ] "What had started out as a one-day event lasted for two days due to delays. But after setting both my feet on Dokdo I came to realize just how many Koreans care about and protect Dokdo."

[Interview : Lee Yu-jin, Member
V-Squad ] "By overcoming the impossible and making the Dokdo Festival come true, singer Kim Jang-hoon has taught me a valuable life lesson that will help me a lot in the future."

The exciting concert on the Dokdo Islets slowly comes to an end. Although they are still in Korean territory, just by being able to stand and sing on the Dokdo Islets brings tears to everyone's eyes. In the future, this event will grow into the "East Sea in Korea" Festival. We cannot wait to see the day when Dokdo will be the center of festivity for the entire globe.
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