• Alexander Han

Comfort Women of the Empire” by Park Yu-ha

“Comfort Women of the Empire” by Park Yu-ha: “The courts, who released a decision on the ‘Comfort Women’ demand for compensation, has a problem in its understanding of history”



Park Yu-ha, professor at Sejong University, has released an opinion criticizing the Korean courts’ decision to rule in favor of the 12 plaintiffs who claimed to have been victims of the Japanese military’s “Comfort Women” program, ruling that the Japanese government has the responsibility to pay the victims.


On the 8th, Professor Park, on her Facebook page, posted a long text titled “In response to the Comfort Women Compensation Judgment on January 8th, 2021”.


“The core conflict in this lawsuit is whether or not the Korean judicial branch has the right to pass judgment on Japan, a sovereign nation - the issue of ‘Sovereign Immunity’,” writes Professor Park, in the post. “Japan has maintained a consistent position, stating that it is in fact covered by ‘Sovereign Immunity’. It also claimed that, quoting the agreement between Korea and Japan (in 2015, regarding the Comfort Women issue), the lawsuit itself is null and void. However, through these arguments, they seemed to completely stay away from the content of the lawsuit itself.”


Professor Park went on to argue against the judgment. The judgment stated that “the Japanese government, during the process of recruiting “Comfort Women”, abducted or kidnapped the victims who lived in the Korean Peninsula which had been occupied as a colony at the time, transporting them outside the Korean Peninsula forcefully, confining them inside the comfort houses and applying constant violence, torture, and sexual abuse on them”. Professor Park, however, rebutted, saying that “abductions and kidnappings were done by criminals and businesses. The Japanese government outlawed these activities and actively arrested the perpetrators.” Additionally, Professor Park explained that the severe activities such as “confining” and “torture” were actually mostly committed by these businesses. She claimed that “as a general rule, violence by soldiers was prohibited”, and stated that soldiers who committed violent acts were punished.


Against the courts’ claim that “the plaintiffs’ rights to seek reparations for damages were not included in the 1965 treaty between Korea and Japan or the 2015 agreement about the victims of the Japanese army’s Comfort Women program, and thus, it cannot be said that these rights have been voided”, Professor Park responded that “the only reason that the 2015 agreement is ignored is because Yoon Mee-hyang, the former head of the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance, did not share the content of the agreement with the actual surviving victims of the Comfort Women program, despite knowing the content beforehand. Also, of the 12 plaintiffs, I have heard that six of them received the 100 million Won paid by Japan through the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation, which was created through the 2015 agreement. There is no way to know if and how much the six overlap with the 5 remaining survivors.”


Professor Park, who wrote these things, has been sued in the past for defamation due to the content of her book, “Comfort Women of the Empire”.

On January 25th, 2017, the 1st judicial branch, which took on the case against Professor Park, stated that the freedom of study is a fundamental human right protected by the constitution, and that the claims made by Professor Park cannot be said to have had a serious negative impact on the social standing of the surviving comfort women, and acquitted Professor Park.


However, on October 27th of the same year, the appeals court determined that “11 of the 35 statements that were raised as having issues in Professor Park’s book are stated in the book as facts, not opinions.” It determined that the comfort women victims’ value and assessment in society are based on the fact that they were forcibly taken and received sexual abuse, and that “the problematic portions of the book did state facts that do have the function of lowering these valuations.” It found Professor Park guilty, and sentenced her to a 10 million Won fine.


 

Pennmike Article (January 8th, 2021)

http://www.pennmike.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=39779 (Korean original)

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