The Issue Of South Korean Comfort Women: Where Are We Now

The political and historical issue of South Korean comfort women is more in the news as of late than it has been in some time. New developments on the story continue to arise, and this means that is will likely remain in the headlines for some time to come.

An Agreement On Principle

One might hear more coverage of comfort women stories because Japanese and South Korean leaders met with each other back in 2015 to hash out a plan. They wanted to come to an agreement on the history of Korean comfort women in World War II. It has been an issue that has been around since back in the days when that war was still going on. Since it remains a hot button issue, it would have been great if both sides could have come to a complete and full agreement about the issue. That did not happen.

The Agreement And What Happened Next

The agreement appeared to be a strong one in principle. Both sides agreed that comfort women were in fact a real thing. The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to set up a fund even for the women in South Korea who were former comfort women. That fund was going to have been used to help those people recover from the massive damages they sustained as a result of the war.

There was plenty of pomp and circumstance that followed the signing of the agreement, but things were far from over. Even with all of the comfort women testimonies out there, plenty of people in Japan do not believe the South Korean version of this history. They think that a lot of it is made up to make the Japanese appear barbaric and to foster the sense of victimhood that many South Koreans feel about the war.

Prime Minister Abe went back to the government of his home country and told the upper chamber of the Diet that he did not accept the South Korean version of history on the issue of Korean comfort women. Naturally, that created a domino effect that left many South Koreans even more angry with the situation than they were before.

Some South Koreans Stand Up To The Official Storyline

The history of South Korean comfort women is pretty straightforward if you are a South Korean. The history they proclaim is that as many as two-hundred thousand South Korean women were kidnapped and forced into sex slavery by the Japanese military during World War II. The comfort women testimonies they have on their side of the story are gruesome and horrifying.

Despite all of this, even some in Korea do not buy all of the official story line of the Korean government. Park Yu-ha, a South Korean scholar and author, wrote a book in 2013 that challenged many of the claims of Korean comfort women. In her book, she examines many historical documents in an attempt to get a more complete picture of what really happened.

She says that at least some of the Korean women went willing to work for the Japanese. There were others who may not have gone willingly, but they were in fact sold to the Japanese by their fellow countrymen. She does still go on to say that in fact some really were kidnapped by the Japanese for terrible purposes. However, she wants it to be clear that the story that all of them went this way is simply not accurate. Numbers are often overstated, and Park believes that the real history is clouded by the dogma on both sides of the issue.