SEOUL--The war of words between Japan and South Korea over the disputed Takeshima islets intensified after a Japanese official criticized a Korean actor on a TV program broadcast Aug. 24.
“I’m sorry for Song. It will become difficult for him to visit Japan," said Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi, senior vice foreign minister. "That is the public's feeling.”
Yamaguchi's comments were directed at Song Il-gook, who starred in the South Korean TV drama "Jumong," for taking part in a relay swim to the Takeshima islets on Gwangbokjeol (Restoration of Light Day) on Aug. 15, which celebrates the country's liberation from Japanese rule in 1945.
In response, the South Korean actor posted tweets that said, “I’m at a loss for words,” and “Hail the Republic of Korea.”
Those drew a number of supportive reactions, one of which said, “Japan’s got rows even with an actor.”
The Kukmin Daily said in its Aug. 25 edition: “It was extremely rare for a high-ranking government official to make a retaliatory remark against an act by an individual.”
Known as Dokdo in Korean, the islets in the Sea of Japan have long been a point of heated contention between the two Asian neighbors.
Relations became frostier on Aug. 10 when South Korean President Lee Myung-bak visited the islands. Japan responded by asking South Korea to take the dispute to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, which only drew further ire from Seoul.
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