The issue of Comfort Women remains a thorn in the side of East Asian politics. The guilty verdict against Dr. Park Yu-ha in October of 2017 further reiterates the fact that the Korean government is set on their “correct view” of the issue. The high court judged that Dr. Park gave false statements, as they do not align with the typical Korean narrative. More complex yet, this issue seems to undermine the sense of true democracy within the country.
The verdict of the case might have consequences for Japanese-South Korean relations. During World War 2, the Imperial Army made use of a series of brothels called “comfort stations” dotted across multiple countries under Japanese wartime occupation. In collusion with local brokers referred to as middlemen, women were made to serve as prostitutes for soldiers in places such as Korea and the Philippines.
Park’s book criticized the conventional understandings of the matter, discovering that the women’s lives were much more nuanced than what was originally believed in South Korea. In her research, Park discovered instances of feelings of partnership and even volunteering themselves for the role. In addition, the book criticizes those who disseminate a narrative of victimhood. Park believes that this is an unnecessary perpetuation between emotional tensions regarding Japan-South Korea relations.
The political environment between the two has been in turmoil since the Japanese occupation. Although a series of treaties, official announcements and apologies have been conducted between the two, issues such as the academic freedom of Dr. Park show that the government is still unwilling to move on from the matter.