Some people are meant to challenge history. Park Yu-Ha is one of those people. She is a South Korean academic who wrote a book about Korean comfort women that generated a lot of negative press for her. Her personal life could not have been more threatened as a result of the stand that she took. She was willing to challenge the comfort women testimonies and other comfort women stories that prevailed in her country. She was not willing to just sit back and accept the government's word about this part of history.
A Book And A Lawsuit
Park Yu-Ha published her book critiquing the official government line about South Korean comfort women in 2013. The book was received with praise from some, but much more criticism on the whole. In fact, nine women who claimed to be former comfort women themselves brought a lawsuit against Park as a result.
In the first court case, Park lost and was ordered to pay the women one million Korean won each. However, she appealed the verdict to a higher court in Korea and was able to get the decision reversed. The higher court ruled that she has a right to free speech regardless of how offensive that speech may be to some people.
Park says that she accepts the verdict but is not entirely sure that she is out of the woods with this case.
There is a lot of controversy on the Korean comfort women issue between Japan and South Korea for so many years. The issue has a lot to do with both countries giving different histories on this topic.
South Korea says that nearly two-hundred thousand Korean women were kidnapped by the Japanese occupying forces during World War II to be used as comfort women. Japan denies that this happened for the most part. They will state that some of these women agreed to work with them, but they never go so far as to admit that they were kidnapped or made to do so.
The Deal That Never Came To Be
The Defense Ministers of South Korea and Japan met with each other and came up with an agreement at the very end of 2015. Things looked good for improved relations between the two countries on the comfort women issue. However, there are some who are now questioning the results of that meeting long-term.
The Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe was initially very willing to be conciliatory on some issues. He stated that was sorry for the "involvement" of Japanese troops in some Korean comfort women issues. However, he then went back to the Diet of Japan and made statements that he did not believe that any Korean women were taken against their will.
Statements like that from the Prime Minister upset many in Korea to a great degree. They want to hear an apology for what they say happened. They also want to have Japan do something to take responsibility for the actions of their military in the past. The agreement had a deal whereby Japan would supply money for a fund to help the remaining South Korean comfort women that are still around. That may not happen at this point either.
There are increasing tensions about the issue once again between the two. The progress that seemed so in reach not that long ago now seems farther away than ever before. Neither country is ready to give up its side of the story. Politics in both country have put each farther into their own corner. History will tell how this one turns out.