New Statues Stoke Sensitivity Between South Korea, JapanBreaking News
tags: Japan, Korea, comfort women, memorials, human rights, World War 2
A pair of new statues in South Korea of a man kneeling in front of a girl symbolizing a victim of sexual slavery by Japan's wartime military is the latest subject of diplomatic sensitivity between the countries, with Tokyo's government spokesperson questioning whether the male figure represents the Japanese prime minister.
Kim Chang-ryeol, owner of a botanic garden in the mountain town of Pyeongchang, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he canceled an unveiling ceremony for the bronze statues that was to take place on Aug. 10 because of what he described as unwanted controversy.
Kim said the statues were his idea, but that he didn't specifically intend the male figure to be Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Since his inauguration in 2012, Abe has stoked anger among South Koreans over his nationalistic stance on Japan's wartime past and his demands that South Korea remove similar statues symbolizing sexual slavery victims in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul and other sites.
But the statues at Kim's garden also drew criticism among some South Koreans, who described them as tacky or excessively provocative on social media. Kim defended the statues, saying they reflect his wish for the countries to resolve their conflicts over history. He didn't expect the statues to trigger political debates.
"The man could be Abe and also couldn't be Abe," said Kim, who will keep the statues at his garden. "The man represents anyone in a position of responsibility who could sincerely apologize to the victims of sexual slavery, now or in the future. It could even be the girl's father. ... That's why the statues were named 'Eternal Atonement.'''
Relations between South Korea and Japan sank to their lowest point in decades last year as they allowed their decades-long disputes over wartime history to spill over into issues related to trade and military cooperation.
comments powered by Disqus
- It Really Is Time to Get Rid of the Filibuster
- A Tale of Atomic Bombs and Paper Cranes: Harry Truman's Grandson Pursues Reconciliation
- The Real Reason the American Economy Boomed After World War II
- Florence Revives Medieval Plague-Era ‘Wine Windows’ for Contactless Service
- Tulane Canceled a Talk by the Author of an Acclaimed Anti-Racism Book After Students Said the Event Was 'Violent'
- Experiencing War Far From the Battlefield
- Isabel Wilkerson’s World-Historical Theory of Race and Caste
- Queens Powhatan and Pocahontas Democratic Club Considers Name Change
- Eminent Scholar of Early U.S., Bernard Bailyn, Dies at 97
- Manhattan Beach to Present Bruce's Beach History, Community Awaits Historians' Voices