A SOUTH KOREAN hospital says a Buddhist monk is in critical condition after setting himself on fire to protest the country’s settlement with Japan on compensation for wartime sex slaves.
A hospital official says the 64-year-old monk suffered third-degree burns across his body and serious damage to his organs. He’s unconscious and unable to breathe on his own.
Police say the man set himself ablaze late Saturday during a rally in Seoul calling for the ouster of impeached President Park Geun-hye.
In his notebook, the man called Park a “traitor” over her government’s 2015 agreement with Japan that sought to settle a long-standing row over South Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery by Japan’s World War II military.
Many South Koreans say Japan’s compensation is not enough.
On Friday, Japan is recalled its ambassador to South Korea over a statue commemorating the Korean “comfort women” who were forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels during World War Two.
The term “comfort women” is a euphemism used for the girls and women who were subjected to the practice. South Korean activists estimate that there may have been as many as 200,000 Korean victims.
Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said the statue in the southern city of Busan was “extremely regrettable” and stated that Japan has asked for its removal.
He said Japan would also postpone bilateral “high-level” economic dialogue, as well as suspend talks on a new currency swap arrangement with South Korea.
The two nations had agreed last August to start talks on a new currency swap to bolster defenses against global uncertainties.
“Without building relations of trust, it won’t stabilise,” Finance Minister Taro Aso told reporters, referring to the currency swap arrangement.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press and Reuters