South Korean singer and well known political campaigner Jang-hoon Kim and Public Relations expert Prof. Kyoung-duk Seo are taking the sensitive topic of Comfort Women to the US.
A poster,asking “Do You Remember?” was erected in New York’s Times Square on Wednesday in an attempt to continue the conversation of Japan’s atrocities in World War 2 overseas. It shows former German chancellor Willy Brandt making his ‘silent apology’ at a Jewish ghetto monument in Warsaw in 1971, and asks the same from Japan.
“In 2012, Korean women forced to work as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers during WWII are still waiting for a heartfelt apology from Japan,” it says.
Kim told K-Pop Starz:“This issue of what happened to the Korean women is becoming a worldwide issue. We decided to post these in Times Square because we knew that many people would see it and quite possibly raise awareness about the issue.”
K-Pop Starz reports that Kim and Seo are also working on other advertisements for Europe and a video for CNN and the BBC.
While the issue of Comfort Women is one that deserves to be discussed by people around the world and, more importantly, recognized by the Japanese government, I wonder if the timing of this is appropriate.
Japan’s territorial disputes with China and Korea over the Senkaku and Takeshima islands, respectively, have been in and out international news for years. But as conflicts between the three nations, particularly Japan and China, escalate, perhaps the “Do You Remember?” poster is adding unnecessary fuel to the fire.
Yesterday, South Korean government representatives and members of the foreign media went to Takeshima (as it is called in Japan), or Dokdo (its Korean name) ,in an attempt to reinforce what Korea claims is it’s rightful ownership of the islands. CNN reports that Japan’s Foreign Ministry, who claims that Korea’s military presence on the island is ‘illegal’, called the visit “extremely regrettable” and “totally unacceptable”. It’s not the kind of discourse you’d want to see between two of Asia’s largest economies.
There are so many disputes between Japan and Korea, and while the fault predominantly lies with Japan, it’s important to see the bigger picture.
Presumably, Japan will only bend to so much pressure from Korea. Perhaps Kim and Seo would have more luck with their campaign if they chose their battles more wisely.