South Korea is a nation with land mines all along its northern border. CCP is finding out, though, that there’s a few offshore as well. When responding to a flurry of complaint tickets, GMs inadvertently stepped into the middle of an international dispute going back at least seventy years.
On September 5, Circus of Midnight [CCOMN], a Japanese player corporation, hosted a T1 frigate free-for-all. Planned out in advance to take place in the low-sec system of Rakapas in Black Rise, the event was organized by CCOMN CEO, sytaqe violacea. Sytaqe posted the information in both Japanese and English on event channels just after downtime, allowing news to spread through out the AUTZ community. Ships were made available in the space around a POS owned CCOMN, along with its location and the force field password. In short order, pilots had gathered in the POS, grabbed their ships, and were enjoying shooting one another.
However, the public announcements also tipped off Goonswarm Fleet Commander and CEO of I’m Fine and You [DOKDO], Lemba, who organized a HarpyFleet to go and intervene. According to sytaqe, “My intels notified me that Harpy fleet was heading to Rakapas. It was no surprise for me. There are fleets in Black Rise everyday everyhour. I expected someone make up fleet to disturb the event. I sit on POS and grab POS guns and wait for goons.”
According to both Lemba and sytaqe, once the Harpies arrived, things became chaotic and disorganized, with many pilots either taking their own small fights to Novice Faction Warfare Complexes – which the T2 Harpies cannot enter – or simply leaving the FFA completely. However, the Novice Plexes soon came under fire, as the Imperium pilots simply docked up, warped their capsules to the tower, and took their own T1 frigates from the 500 stockpiled inside the force field.
Through to this point, with the Imperium’s numbers easily allowing them to overwhelm the smaller, less-organized locals, the story is largely a normal one for EVE; Group A arranges an event, Group B decides to crash it, people get upset. What followed continued the normal pattern, but with a twist.
With the FFA successfully smashed, many of the members of Lemba’s majority-Korean corp began putting ‘DOKDO Supremacy’ in local and, according to sytaqe, into the event channel. In Lemba’s words, this is “the battlecry of the Korean corporation DOKDO in GSF,” and “is equivalent to the battle cries ‘Karmafleet best fleet’ or SMA chanting ‘ook ook’.” This provoked a significant amount of ire among the Japanese players present. Although this sort rallying cry may seem innocuous to those not from South Korea or Japan, the word Dokdo and its connotations are a crystallization of the tensions and history between the two East Asian nations.
Dokdo is the Korean name a set of islands that are in a state of territorial dispute between South Korea and Japan. Known to the Japanese as Takeshima, the islands (hereafter referred to as the Liancourt Rocks) have been a symbolic point of contention between the two nations since the end of World War II. To many Koreans, the Liancourt Rocks represent both a point of nationalistic pride and lingering resentment over the crimes committed by the Japanese during its occupation of Korea in the first half of the 20th century, including forced conscription of Korean men into the Imperial Japanese army and the women being forced into sexual slavery for the same army. To acknowledge Japan’s claim to the Liancourt Rocks would be the same to many Koreans as a post-facto legitimization of Japan’s colonial rule.
Along with Korean Eve players shouting “DOKDO Supremacy” in local during an event organized by a Japanese player, according to at least one source, Lemba himself was quoted as posting, “JAPAN RECOGNIZE DOKDO AND THE PAIN WILL STOP… Until they accept Dokdo as the correct name for our island we will stay.”
The resulting outrage sparked a number of petitions, including some claiming ‘DOKDO Supremacy’ translated as ‘Dokdo is our land’, or accusations of racism. In responding to these petitions, CCP GMs sent ‘cease and desist or be banned’ warnings to over a dozen Goonswarm pilots. In these warnings, CCP stated that by mentioning Dokdo, the pilots in question had breached [EULA 6C-2]. which is actually Item 2 of the Terms of Service (EULA Section 6, Part C, essentially states that the user agrees to follow the ToS).
That particular section of the Terms of Service states:
“You may not use any abusive, defamatory, ethnically or racially offensive, harassing, harmful, hateful, obscene, offensive, sexually explicit, threatening or vulgar language. (Alternate spelling or partial masking of such words will be reprimanded in the same manner as the actual use of such words.)”
The implication is that by simply referring to the Liancourt Rocks by their Korean name, to Japanese players, the Korean players were engaging in ethnically offensive or harassing language. Korean players filed petitions of their own, but were told that players are not to engage in political discussions in EVE. That, however, is not an explicit part of the Terms of Services, either in Item 2 or elsewhere in the ToS. In addition, while the Korean players have acknowledged that the email warning is only a slap on the wrist, the incident has apparently exploded on Korean game forums. Many South Korean gamers see this as a sign that CCP is siding with Japan on an international territory dispute. Others have simply taken it as a sign of CCP’s unwillingness to communicate with their player base and take disciplinary action without actually understanding the events in question.
TMC would like to thank both Lemba and sytaqe violacea for their assistance in understanding events as they unfolded, and the issues involved. At the time of this writing, CCP has not responded to requests for comment.