South Korean President Moon Jae-in meets with South Korean Kim Bok-dong, who was abducted to serve as a "comfort woman" for wartime Japanese soldiers, at a hospital in Seoul on Thursday. Photo: Presidential Blue House/Yonhap via REUTERS
politics

South Korean president meets former 'comfort women'

18 Comments

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday met women who were forced to work in Japanese wartime brothels, days after their plight again cast a shadow over relations with Japan.

A South Korean panel set up to investigate a 2015 agreement with Japan on the thousands of girls and women forced to work in Japan's military brothels, euphemistically termed "comfort women" by Japan, said the deal failed to meet their needs.

Moon said the 2015 deal, under which Japan apologised to victims and provided 1 billion yen ($8.8 million) to a fund to help them, was seriously flawed. Japan said any attempt to revise it could damage relations.

Eight of the women met Moon for lunch at the presidential compound, known as the Blue House, in Seoul, the president's office said in a statement.

"We told you the previous government's agreement was wrong and this issue hasn't been resolved," Moon told one of the women before the lunch. "It's still not an easy situation to handle within our bilateral relationship."

Moon wanted to gauge the women's reaction to his government's position on the deal, the Blue House said.

Moon visited one of the women, Kim Bok-dong, separately in the morning as she was ill and unable to attend the lunch.

"We survived when bullets were raining down and we'll be able to get through this," Kim told Moon, the Blue House said.

The women want Japan to take legal, binding responsibility for its actions and Kim was scornful of the 2015 pay-out.

"The money should be sent back to Japan," she said.

South Korean activists estimate that there may have been as many as 200,000 Korean women forced to work in the brothels.

As of December, there are at least 32 surviving, according to a South Korean civic group set up to look after their rights.

It was the second time former "comfort women" visited the Blue House during Moon's presidency after one was invited to a dinner when U.S. President Donald Trump visited in November.

Moon's announcement on the Japanese deal last week raised consternation in Japan, where media reported said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may decide not to visit South Korea for the Winter Olympics there next month.

South Korea's foreign ministry said on Thursday it would seek final measures on the issue as quickly as possible while one ministry official told Reuters the measures could be finalised as early as next week.

Strained ties come as the U.S. allies are trying to cooperate on security in the face of North Korea's nuclear and missile development.

But their bitter history, including Japanese colonisation of the Korean peninsula and the issue of the women, has regularly been a source of rancour between them.

Moon came to power in May after the removal of his disgraced predecessor, Park Geun-hye, whose conservative government was criticised for failing to fully consult victims over the 2015 settlement.

© Thomson Reuters 2018.

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

18 Comments
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I think the compensation money was small.

-19 ( +3 / -22 )

Adjusted headline...

President Moon will meet alleged former comfort women in an annual media stunt to appeal to his more right wing voters and continue his anti Japan rhetoric.

He will continue his political career, not bettering his nation, but by simply banging the right wing drum that summons support through fear, ignorance, and bitterness, instead of looking toward a better future.

21 ( +27 / -6 )

sex slaves not comfort women

-14 ( +9 / -23 )

Did I read that correctly? She said she wants to return he money? So she's going to "unreceive" the apology? Is that how it works?

You order food, eat it, and then you're like, "Hmmm... that didn't set well with me. I want to renegotiate." Then regurgitate lunch and take it back to the register?

Disgusting.

20 ( +24 / -4 )

Photo opportunity.  Like he really cares......

25 ( +27 / -2 )

"We told you the previous government's agreement was wrong and this issue hasn't been resolved," Moon told one of the women before the lunch.

That reads all wrong. He should be asking not telling.

Moon wanted to gauge the women's reaction to his government's position on the deal, the Blue House said.

He should be consulting the victims about their position, prior to taking any position himself - or at least that is how it would happen if he weren't just treating them as propaganda tools for his own political gain.

These women continue to be used and abused by men in power.

18 ( +20 / -2 )

Was she hospitalized?  She was seen everywhere at anti-Japan demonstrations.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

Shinzo Abe, don't mix the free and neutral will of the olympic spirit with politics and disagreements! To do that, will have a heavy blow to Japan's olympic spirit and reputation.

Especially since you're the one hosting the Olympic Games in 2020, be careful Abe!

-17 ( +2 / -19 )

"We told you the previous government's agreement was wrong and this issue hasn't been resolved,"

Fine, then return all the money as the lady requested. Or was this not quite what you wanted to hear Moon?

This is nothing but a cynical attempt to extort japan for more money and to re open old wounds before the last comfort women dies. It has nothing to do with correct compensation or apologies now, as it is all about the money and is being driven mainly by relatives and human rights campaigner's who have no links what so ever to comfort women debate.

"We survived when bullets were raining down and we'll be able to get through this"

How about when the bullets and nuclear bombs are reigning down on you from your neighbours in the north? Will you still be thinking the same or would you rather your government had concentrated on defense and sorting out the bilateral problem the exist on the peninsular rather than playing the broken record on comfort women.

17 ( +19 / -2 )

I do not know from where their anti-Japan feelings come from. It is rooted deep. Comfort women is just one instance and even if it is solved they will come up with another issue and on and on digging into historical past. When we have a problem with somebody, the best way is to keep distance with the person.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

I do not know from where their anti-Japan feelings come from.

You've got to be kidding...

-15 ( +4 / -19 )

Above.

Wow.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Abe himself has issued a Prime Ministerial apology. Japan has fulfilled it's part of the 2015 Agreement. 36 out of the 47 surviving Comfort Women have accepted the apology and the compensation. That's 74%.

Is it the norm in South Korea to allow the minority to destroy the will of the majority? Clearly this is a political circus show designed to break the US-SK-JPN alliance. The surviving Comfort Women themselves are not the issue at all.

It's really about time the world woke up to this scam.

www.atimes.com/article/probe-casts-shadow-comfort-women-deal/

16 ( +17 / -1 )

macvToday 02:57 pm JST

sex slaves not comfort women

Military prostitutes, not sex slaves. These women were on the military payroll. Both Germany and France had

military prostitutes during WWII. South Korea had them to service US troops.

19 ( +20 / -1 )

There is no anti-Japanese sentiment in South Korea, there is extremely severe, bordering fanatical anti-Korean sentiment in Japan.

Is that why there are no phrases like Jjokbari (쪽바리)?

Politicians, Ministers, Mayors routinely deny their war crimes, whitewash their history, and make antagonizing and insulting remarks against the Korean victims, including humiliating them by worshiping the very same criminals who wronged them.

There have been some that do deny history, and say stupid things, and yes, anti-Korean sentiment in Japan is a thing... that doesn't mean it doesn't happen in Korea too, and at a much larger and violent extent, and that doesn't mean that the Japanese government is the one that has been trying to improve the relations while the Korean government uses Japan each time they need to distract their population from their own corruption and problems.

Anti-Korean books are becoming best sellers in the entire nation. There are special anti-Korean sections in many book stores.

That's just plain false. Anti-Korean books are popular among a small fraction of the population, and most book stores do not have any "Anti-Korean" section. You are basically picking a small group of people and pointing as if anything they do reflect somehow in the Japanese population in general.

Little schoolgirls shouting for the massacre of Koreans in daylight downtown Osaka.

Once again, look at my previous point.

Anti-Korean protests calling for ''Good and Bad'' Koreans to be killed.

Once again, look at my previous point.

Anti-Korean posters can be seen everywhere in big cities.

That's weird, because I lived in Tokyo for more than 6 years, and never saw any of those. I saw Uyoku-dantai cars, but for the most part they talked about the emperor. Now I live in Sapporo, and I haven't seen any of those. Meanwhile I've seen many anti-nuclear, and left leaning protests.

Anti-Korean channels on YouTube with hundreds of thousands of subscribers and views post regularly anti-Korean content.

Let me guess, you are talking about the only one channel and talking as if those were many, the Japanese Net-Uyo and Nationalist darling of Kazuya Kyōmoto. He's an uneducated guy who started to be popular among those circles, and that's why he became big. It's just like the Japanese Alex Jones, but some times even more stupid (Like when he says that there is no such thing as discrimination, but just "differentiation")

Online news websites are filled with anti-Korean articles and made up stories.

On-line news world-wide are filled with a lot of made up stories about any kind of subject they want to push for or against. Do you not remember the whole controversy with Facebook and fake news? In fact, you are doing just that in this post.

Searching ''Korea' in Japan's Google will give you only anti-Korean images.

I just did it, and no, I just got the South-Korean flag, a map with the Korean peninsula, the Korean president, landscapes of Korea... In fact, I thought there were going to be a lot of images about North Korea, but there were just like 4 in about 60

11 ( +11 / -0 )

The comment by "IloveCoffee" above illustrates the failure of the internet. Personally, I know well-traveled ethnic Koreans who have found living in and/or visiting Japan to be a pleasant experience. And unfortunately, South Korea is a country where politicians resorted to hatred of Japan as one way of facilitating nation-building after 1945. This sort of thing was all too common in former colonial holdings after the imperial powers departed. South Korean society is still very bitterly divided along regional and ideological lines, more so than Japan and a lot of other countries. Democratically elected politicians in that country are therefore frequently tempted to demonize Japan as a way of shoring up support.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

It is comforting to see the picture of the South Korean President talking with a former comfort woman, rather than shunning her.

IMO, part of the problem is that Japanese behavior during its Imperial stage was so extremely brutal and cruel. Nothing will ever erase that. Time will help, but it would also help if the Japanese themselves would stop denying their own history.

Relating a personal story, as a youth I dated a young Korean immigrant to the US. She told me how her father had been working in Hiroshima when the Atomic Bomb went off. He survived, and eventually made his way back home to his wife and family in Korea, who were thrilled but amazed that he had survived. They did not know that he was alive, and then one night, after everyone was asleep, he arrived home. He went to sleep without waking anyone up, and in the morning they found him in their midst.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

War sex slave or doll dream sex

Japan just need to recognize, they were sex slave and not prostitute. But they won't because this is recognizing geisha is a prostitute. Japan have many word for their their sex and sexdream dolls. But, in the universal world standard and posterity they will be sex slave. They won't be prostitute. They will not be confort woman because they were a replacement for the wife at home missing only for men. The victims says nor confort woman nor prostitute.

Japaneese men have to understand that those women did not choose to be their wife replacement. The victime were true war sex slave.

That is not the will or intend of the man in charge that matter but what the victim felt about it. This is a universal truth. The future justice for the world and the next japaneese generation are on the victim side.

That is an immortal matter. This was sex war crime in denial.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

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