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Students protest to protect comfort woman statue in Seoul

Students protest to protect comfort woman statue in Seoul

Posted January. 05, 2016 12:46,   

한국어

The weather was rather warm for winter, but the wind was still cold in the square where there is nothing to block the wind. A group of college students saw the morning come next to a "comfort woman" memorial statue. They have stayed there for five days from Dec 30 last year, protesting against the result of the comfort women talk between Korea and Japan.

They are members of a student organization on discarding the negotiation agenda on the comfort women issue. Those young protesters have gone into an all-night sit-in demonstration since the rally on Dec. 30. The number of the protesters was 30 in the beginning, but it increased to 50 during the weekend. They are publicizing the unfairness of the Korea-Japan agreement on the comfort women and appealing for the public to join them in the protest to keep the girl statue, which symbolizes a Korean "comfort woman" in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.

Many people went to see the protest and to cheer for them in the first week of the new year. "I visited the protest site thinking that the comfort woman statue must not be moved or demolished. Koreans living in the U.S. think the recent agreement went wrong and are worried if the statue would be removed," said Choi Won (25), a member of the Korean American Forum of California that has pushed forward an idea of erecting "comfort women" statues in the western United States. The first comfort woman statue built outside Korea was the one placed in a Glendale city park in California, the U.S. in July 2012.

Byun Mi-sol (14, sophomore at Yewon Middle School), who has been giving a charity performance for the victims of the military sexual slavery, played the flute at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. She played "Arirang" in traditional Korean clothes. "I do not want the statue to be destroyed," said the young player with tears in her eyes. On Saturday, Kim Bok-dong, one of the victims of the slavery, visited Byun to encourage her.

People took pictures with the statue and left messages against demolishing the statue. Covering the ground around the statue, some of the messages read, "The vindictive fists of the girl statue have not opened yet" and "As a historian, I came here too late to join the protest. Cheer up, victims of the sexual slavery." Some people brought hand-warmers, canned coffee, and blankets for the students.

The police have surrounded the protest site, paying sharp attention to the situation. As the statue is placed is within 100 meters from the Japanese Embassy, which prohibits any kind of rally except the regular demonstration for the comfort women, the tension was mounting after 30 college students raided a protest in front of the Japanese Embassy on Thursday. "There was one collision when sleeping bags arrived, but that was the last one," a police official said. "We are keeping our eyes on the situation in case of an unexpected development."



whalefisher@donga.com