Apple Maps reference of Korean Dokdo islets 'unacceptable'

Apple Maps reference of Korean Dokdo islets 'unacceptable'

Summary: South Korea has protested against Apple's much-criticized map service for indicating both Korean and Japanese names for Dokdo islets, which ownership has caused tensions between both countries.


South Korea has voiced its displeasure over Apple's map service for the iPhone indicating both the Korean and Japanese names in reference to the Dokdo islets, which ownership has led to tensions between both Asian countries.

Citing a foreign ministry official, a report by Yonhap News on Wednesday said Apple's Korean unit notified the local government its new English map service under the iOS6 mobile operating software simultaneously uses Korean, Japanese and Franco-English names--"the Liancourt Rocks"--to describe Dokdo, which is also claimed by Japan.

The Korean-language version of the map service retains the Korean name, Dokdo, while the Japanese-language service uses the Japanese name, the government official said. In previous versions of the English map service, the Korean name had been used to describe the islets, which lie closer to South Korea in the body of water between the Korean peninsula and Japan. 

The Korean official said Dokdo is an integral part of South Korea's territory, so the new reference is "unacceptable" and should be marked as the Korean name of Dokdo wherever it is searched for. "Although Apple is a private organization, this is an issue that our government cannot concede on. So, we will continue reiterating our stance and requesting Apple to accept our demand," the official said.

While Apple's Korean unit could not be reached for comment, the Japanese government told the news site it recently changed to an aggressive mode from a defensive mode regarding the naming issue. 

Tensions have been high between Seoul and Tokyo over the Dokdo islets in the East Sea, after the South Korean president Lee Myung-bak visited the islets and cited Tokyo's unrepentant attitude over its colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula as a key reason for his trip. His comments angered the Japanese, according to a separate report by The New York Times.

Apple Maps, available on iPhone 5 and iOS6, was involved in another territorial dispute between China and Japan, over a group of uninhabited islands known as the Diaoyu Islands. The map had referenced the islands to both countries, depending on the keyword used.

It also came under fire in Taiwan last month as satellite images of sensitive military installations on Apple maps surfaced, prompting the government to call for the Cupertino-based company to blur the images. 

Consumers also have complained about Apple's maps inaccurate indication of places since its launch. The widespread criticisms prompted Apple CEO Tim Cook to issue an apology, even recommending other map services as alternatives including those from its rivals Microsoft and Google. 

Topics: Mobility, Apple, Government Asia, Smartphones

Ellyne Phneah

About Ellyne Phneah

Elly grew up on the adrenaline of crime fiction and it spurred her interest in cybercrime, privacy and the terror on the dark side of IT. At ZDNet Asia, she has made it her mission to warn readers of upcoming security threats, while also covering other tech issues.

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  • All that hoopla over 46 acres and 8 tons/day of raw sewage in the ocean.

    Almost amazing. Guess South Korea should lodge complaints on Wikipedia and Google maps as well...

    Bet they won't. No headlines.
    • Wow

      Love my job, since I've been bringing in $5600… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I'm making it online(Click on menu Home)
    • Sea

      Sea territory! By owning a small Island you can get access to a huge sea territory that may contain oil and fishing resources. Another reason to fight over small Island is to take the heat away from local problems in your country. Like Argentina fighting over the Falklands Island to draw attention away from failed government policies and hyper inflation.
  • Ya. Whatever.

    Korea is practically unrealistic as many of the posters around here.

    You may want things to happen. You may beleive in your own mind that you have good reason to beleive your wants to be perfectly rational, you may even think your right.

    But ignoring realities, while the norm for posters around here, even some writers, dosnt mean that Apple, Intel, Microsooft, Google or any other company is about to go down the drain, nor is the world so sure that Korea is in the right on this issue.

    Screaming and swearing dosnt prove your right, no matter how much you want the thing to happen and it dosnt mean anyone is going to listen to you.

    Haters of all kinds would do well to get real and that means entire governments of many countries as well.
    • Not the first time this sort of thing has happened

      I know that there have been other "territorial disputes" in software, albeit not always with map software (I think one such incident actually had the delineation of time zones as the source of contention), so this isn't the first time this sort of thing has happened. Time will tell as to whether it is the last.

      See for further details on the time zone thing.
      Third of Five
  • Google Maps

    Apple.... Please..... Bring back the Google Maps app back!!!!
    We've sufferer enough!
    Your Maps app is miles away from even being acceptable.
    Yea we get it you wanna make money.
    But letting your customers suffer won't benefit in the long run.
    I didn't switch back from Android for this!
    • You show your ignorance

      Google Maps on iOS was crap. So bringing back crap to replace new crap is not an improvement.
      • something missing

        Google Maps was by no means perfect, but it did a lot of stuff that Apple's Maps app did not, particularly for those who rely on their phone to use public transportation.

        I've had mostly good results with the new Maps app, though it mistakenly sent me to the mountains for a nearby address on a main thoroughfare here in Honolulu, but I know several people who were left in the lurch when the bus routes were yanked out from under them. Apple should not have released their app while yanking the Google Maps app without having public transport information available.
    • Don't worry, "flawless" Google maps has the same "error"

      Searching for "Takeshima" will give you the "Liancourt Rocks" on Google as well.

      And yes, Google has tons and tons of errors and mis-spelled names of streets as well.

      Heck, it even has a road under the Golden Gate Bridge floating on the water. And it will route you to take it.

      So yes, all maps systems have issues and none are perfect.
    • count me out

      Oh please don't send us back to the dark ages before Apple Maps.

      Anyone who thinks the handful of errors (many of which are already fixed) is reason to go back to the limited functionality in Google Maps for iOS is out of their mind.

      If Google wants to give us the full version of Google maps, then we can start to talk but I think the core tech in Apple's vector based maps might win the day even then.
  • Nice beautifull

    Oh yeah. Thanks you share info nice.!
  • Another Apple bashing.....

    Another day another Apple bashing write.

    Kind of wonder what will these people do without Apple.

    Do they really need to bash Apple to put some meaning in their sad life.
    • Don't take it so personally

      and stop whining because your precious apple is shown to be anything but perfect.

      Seriously, this whole site is dedicated to knocking google/apple/msoft - what makes you think your whiney little comment will change the clickbait regime? Such a sad life you lead if you get hurt by articles on zdnet.
      Little Old Man
  • What is Apple supposed to do

    The status of Dokdo is in dispute and that dispute is best resolved by diplomats, lawyers, and/or arbiters, not by foreign corporate executives. Apple should be neutral and appears to have done what a neutral cartographer should do.

    Nor is it wrong for a place to have different names in different languages. Indeed the United States of America is routinely referred to in Korean as Miguk ("beautiful country"). Such practices are normal and should be non-controversial.

    It is the South Korean government that is in the wrong here, not Apple.
    John L. Ries