|Rep. Park Myung-jae of the Liberty Korea Party displays a Dokdo commemorative coin, which is rumored to have been issued by the Bank of Tanzania in July, during the National Assembly audit of the Bank of Korea, Tuesday. / Yonhap|
By Park Jae-hyuk
The chief of the nation's central bank has pledged to consider issuing "Dokdo commemorative coins," amid increasing public demand for the issuance of such coins in a pre-emptive move to increase awareness among the international community that the eastern islets are Korean territory.
Bank of Korea (BOK) Governor Lee Ju-yeol made the promise during a National Assembly audit of the bank, Tuesday, in response to Rep. Park Myung-jae of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, who asked whether the issuance of Dokdo commemorative coins is still difficult for the central bank.
In a report given to Rep. Kim Du-kwan of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) ahead of the audit, the BOK also said: "If the government asks us to issue Dokdo commemorative coins, we will consider the issuance, after taking its appropriateness and ripple effects into account."
Lee, however, maintained his cautious stance on the matter over concerns of triggering a possible diplomatic feud with Japan.
"We may miss some important things if we make a decision using only our own judgment," he said. "Regarding this matter, there are a few more things to take into account."
Over the past few years, there have been calls from lawmakers and some members of the public for the BOK to issue Dokdo commemorative coins as legal tender.
The demand increased further after KBS reported Sept. 14 that in July the Bank of Tanzania (BOT) had minted such coins.
The Tanzanian central bank and the Japanese government denied the report, and the BOK and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are conducting a fact check.
In 2005, the Ugandan central bank released Dokdo commemorative coins with a face value of 2,000 Ugandan shillings ($0.50). In 2004, North Korea also issued eight types of Dokdo commemorative coins made of silver, copper and aluminum.
Although the Korea Minting, Security Printing and ID Card Operating Corporation released Dokdo commemorative medals in 2015 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the nation's independence from Japanese colonial rule, they are considered to have a lower value as they are not legal tender.