Jeopardy! category: THE FAR EAST (15-04-2014)
$1600 clue: The lowest point for North & South Korea is at this “national” body of water
The gist: Even though it’borders five countries, it almost always goes by the name of just one of them. The Sea of Japan also borders North and South Korea, Russia, and China, and predictably, its name has raised the ire of some. Located to the northwest of the Japanese archipelago, both Koreas have taken umbrage with its common appellation – South Korea would like it to be known as the “East Sea” while North Korea prefers the more nationalistic “East Sea of Korea.” Of course, even without the North’s addition, the name is clearly meant to claim the body of water for mainland Asia as opposed to Japan, since the only thing that could be the “East Sea” to Japan is the Pacific Ocean.
The Sea of Japan is noted for its very high levels of dissolved oxygen which allows it to support a lot of life, which in turn supports a fishing industry for all five of its bordering countries, including a Vladivostok-based Russian whaling crew. The Sea also prevented Japan from falling to Mongol invasion in 1274 and 1281, when typhoons devastated Kublai Khan’s fleets en route. These typhoons were dubbed kamikaze, or “divine wind” – and they later lent their name to the Japanese suicide pilots of World War II.
The clue: Contestants aren’t very likely to know the lowest point of either of the Koreas, but also don’t need to. This clue is really asking for a body of water that borders both North and South Korea, and, to distinguish it from the Yellow Sea on the other side of Korean Peninsula, is named for a country. It could be a bit tricky to guess, however, since the East China Sea is also “nationally” named, but only borders South Korea, and the South China Sea is nearby as well. None of the contestants went for a guess, however, and this clue went as a triple stumper.
In Jeopardy!: The Sea of Japan appears in only twelve clues in the J!Archive, which is not that many for a sea that borders five well-known countries. Korea (the countries and the peninsula) appears in fiveof the clues, and cities both Japanese and Russian (Vlaidvostok) appear in two each. The Yellow Sea is mentioned in three clues as being on the other side of the Koreas. One sad clue mentions Lt. Col. Henry Blake of TV show M*A*S*H, whose plane was reported shot down over the Sea of Japan on his final episode.