Taking Advantage out of Historical Pain

Lee Sooyeon

The matter of comfort woman (people who were forced to be sex slaves by the Imperial Japanese Army) has been a huge historical and ethical issue for years. Recently, a news about Yoon Mi-Hyang (known as a South Korean human rights activist, politician, and author, and at the same time the former head of the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan) has given a big shock to a lot of people. It was about Yoon taking advantage of the donation system and using the donated money for her own.

Lee Yong-soo, 92, also called for due punishment of the group – Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan – and its former President Yoon Mi-hyang over their alleged mishandling of donations. “I was tricked and used. We did the work and only a handful of people took the money,” she said at a press conference held at a hotel in Daegu. “I am saying we should change the way we do protests against the Japanese government, not saying we should end this.” Lee spoke about her experience of being taken to churches, basketball matches and other places to collect donations with Yoon without knowing what the fundraising was for.

Lee also criticized the nongovernmental organization’s failure to distinguish victims of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery from Koreans forced into labor during Japan’s colonization of Korea. The organization’s campaign to seek justice for both sides, which she said is different in nature, led to a failure in resolving the comfort women issue, she said. She also stressed the importance of human exchanges between Korea and Japan, particularly students, to learn about their shared history. “It is our students who can resolve the issue of comfort women, who were unfairly framed, through righteous history education, as they are the owners of the history,” she said.

Photo Credit: SBS News

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