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Korea's inconsistent historical perception
  • Jeong Seung-in, reporter
  • 승인 2017.11.26 01:07
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▲Vietnamese women who hurt deeply in their hearts still suffer from pain and sorrow

Our people went through a painful time during Japanese colonial rule from 1910 to 1945. Japan is partly responsible for starting World War II and forcing our men to join the Japanese war force. Furthermore, Korean women were taken as sexual prisoners by the Japanese government. They even took young girls and forced them to have sex with their soldiers. This is known as the 'Japanese military sexual slavery' (they are also known as 'comfort women'). It is now widely accepted that Japan forced Korean people. regardless of gender and age, to suffer in this tragedy. Women who were selected for the pleasure of Japanese soldiers were beaten, injured and even got sexually transmitted diseases. In case of pregnancies, the women were forced to have abortions which is undeniably violates their human rights.

Since 1994, Korea has urged Japan to admit that Korean women were forced into sexual servitude for Japanese soldiers before and during World War II. We have been demanding a sincere apology and reparations by the Japanese government, but unfortunately they have not fully admitted the fact. The Japanese government has said that it is difficult to confirm the sex slave case and expressed that they feel 'pity' rather than offer a sincere apology.

On December 28, 2015, South Korea and Japan concluded a settlement agreement with the comfort women case for 1 billion yen. However, there was no true apology from the offending nation and since the opinions of the victims were excluded, the agreement is invalid. The apology for the atrocity of Japan should have been centered around the comfort women and the payment of damages alone cannot settle this case.

However, our country has also hurt some people in the past which shouldn’t be forgotten. It happened during the Vietnam War from 1960 to 1975. ROK troops fought to contribute to world peace and freedom with a strong request from the United States. In this process, our army killed innocent civilians in the Vietnam War. It is believed to be approximately 9,000 Vietnamese who were killed. In addition, some Korean troops committed sexual assaults on civilians, similar to those of the "comfort women" of our nation. Of course, the Japanese military is different from ours in that the state operated the scandal in an organized system. However, we are similar to Japan in the ways that we are also an offender and that we also haven’t acknowledged the mistakes of our past.

Even though the war ended over 40 years ago, Vietnamese women who hurt deeply in their hearts are still suffering from the pain and sorrow from the sexual violence. "Four people, one by one, raped me. They put us in the trenches, kept us in there for over two days. I was so scared.” This is a testimony of one of the victims who had been sexually abused by the ROK military during the Vietnam War. These evil deeds stopped with the end of the Vietnam War on April 30, 1975.

In Vietnam, a peace foundation made "Vietnam Pieta" which is a bronze statue to remember the civilian victims of ROK army massacres during the Vietnam War. It has a similar meaning to "Sonyeosang" in our country which is to remember and let people know about the women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military.

Ever since the Vietnam war, the Korean government has not offered any apology regarding the incident. It isn't right for our nation to keep its mouth shut about the incident in which victims of sexual abuse are suffering. Our government needs to recognize the mistakes and seek forgiveness from the victims rather than try to cover up our mistakes.

Jeong Seung-in, reporter  samcandothat@naver.com

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