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Once again, there is an emotional eruption and political commotion in South Korea after the Japanese and Korean governments announced their diplomat “deal” on the Comfort Women on December 28, 2015. The official agreement includes a formal apology and a compensation of $8.3 million from the Japanese government. There is one important condition also included in the agreement; that this resolution should be “final and irreversible” this year onward. On the surface, the deal seems good—formal apology and some monetary compensation finalized. But then, why the emotional eruption and vehement opposition, especially from the Korean Comfort Women rights activists? In this regard, they point out at least three critical matters. In the agreement, first, there is no legal or moral responsibility taken by the Japanese government on its wartime crime, that is, sexual slavery. Saying “sorry” is not enough. Second, there should be no one-time “final” deal on the historical crime, but a continuing reflection and a gradual process of healing and reconciliation. Third, the agreement was completed too quickly, without consulting the Comfort Women themselves. The agreement seems like a cheap (or expensive?) deal to cover something up in a hurry— something unpleasant to both Korean and Japanese sides. What is worse, even a major number of Koreans tends to avoid a serious talk on the given matter. What exactly in the Comfort Women matter makes them, both Korea and Japan, so unpleasant?


Originally published in the Asian American Theological Forum, vol. 3 no. 1 (2016): 31-35