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28 Nov 2014 11:09

October 31, 2014

"Comfort Women of Empire" Reviewed by Professor Jun BongGwan

The following is a summary English translation of Professor Jun BongGwan's review of the book "Comfort Women of Empire."  Dr. Jun is a professor of Korean Literature at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. The review was published on July 20, 2014 in Korea's leading newspaper ChosunIlbo. The original article is shown at the bottom.

Professor Jun BongGwan


Professor Park Yuha, the author of "Comfort Women of Empire," has published five books on Korean literature during the annexation period. But I didn't know she published a book "Comfort Women of Empire" last year. I found out about it because I heard the news that her book got banned from publishing and that she was being sued for defamation by a Korean civil group.

After reading the book, I was a little bit disappointed because there was nothing in the book that I didn't know. We all knew that Korean comfort women were not coercively taken away by Japanese military. Japanese military commissioned Korean men in prostitution trade to recruit women in Korean peninsula and operate comfort stations in China and so on. Japanese military was busy fighting all over Asia, and it certainly didn't have time to be in Korea recruiting women.

Although Professor Park Yuha recognizes that Japan's imperialism was the root cause of women's suffering, she claims Korean men in prostitution trade were the ones legally responsible, not Japanese military. I disagree with her logic because Japanese military commissioned Korean men in prostitution trade. So Japanese military is legally responsible as well in my opinion.

Korean fathers and brothers who sold their daughters and sisters, Korean men in prostitution trade who took women away on false pretenses at times, Korean town chiefs who encouraged those acts. They all should be held accountable someday. But now is not the time. We must make Japan apologize and compensate again before we admit our responsibility.

If one reads the book carefully, it is clear that Professor Park had no intent to defame former comfort women. But to suggest that Korea and Japan should both admit responsibility at the same time is a naive diplomatic strategy.




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