The Statue of Peace (Korean: 평화의 소녀상, Pyeonghwaui sonyeosang; Japanese: 平和の少女像, Heiwano shōjo-zō), often shortened to Sonyeosang in Korean or Shōjo-zō in Japanese (literally "statue of girl")[1] and sometimes called the Comfort Woman Statue (慰安婦像, Ianfu-zō),[2] is a symbol of the victims of sexual slavery, known euphemistically as comfort women, by the Japanese military during World War II (specifically, the period from the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War until the end of the Pacific War). The Statue of Peace was first erected in Seoul to urge the Japanese government to apologize to and honour the victims. However, it has since become a site of representational battles among different parties.[3]

Statue of Peace
Revised RomanizationPyeonghwaui sonyeosang
McCune–ReischauerP'yŏnghwaŭi sonyŏsang
Statue of Peace. Sad looking Korean woman in traditional garb with clenched fists. Park-like background with tree trunks and leaves on ground. Autumn setting.
Statue of Peace from behind, facing the Embassy of Japan
ArtistKim Seo-kyung and Kim Eun-sung
Completion date14 December 2011 (2011-12-14)
LocationSeoul, South Korea

History Edit

The Wednesday demonstration started in 1992 and, nearly 20 years later, the idea for the Statue of Peace was proposed by the Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan.[4] More specifically, the council proposed that a memorial stone be erected in front of the Embassy of Japan in Seoul to commemorate the pain of comfort women as the victims of sexual slavery by the Japanese imperial military. This proposal was realized on 14 December 2011, when the bronze statue was installed in front of the embassy.[5] The Statue of Peace was designed by the couple Kim Seo-kyung and Kim Eun-sung.[6] It depicts a girl dressed in a chima jeogori (a modified form of hanbok in the late-19th to early-20th century), with small hands and short hair, sitting and staring at the Embassy of Japan in central Seoul.[5]

Japan has repeatedly demanded that the statue be removed, but Seoul and especially the victims have rejected such demands, consistently arguing that the Japanese government has never officially admitted the direct involvement of its military in the comfort women issue.[7] The Japanese government did in fact admit to this in 1992.[8]

Until now in South Korea, since the Statue of Peace has not been designated as a public sculpture, it has been difficult to prevent the statue from being damaged. On 30 June 2017, the civil congress of the city of Busan created a legal foundation to protect the statue by passing the relevant ordinance.[9] For this reason, it has become difficult to move or demolish the monument.

Diplomatic incident with Japan Edit

According to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in 2015, South Korea and Japan reached an agreement to settle the comfort women issue. As a part of this agreement, South Korea acknowledged the fact that Japan was concerned about the statue in front of the embassy of Japan in Seoul and committed to solve the issue in an appropriate manner.[10] However, the South Korean government has never explicitly promised to remove the statue.[11] In December 2015, Japan stated that it would not pay ¥1 billion as compensation unless the Statue of Peace was removed from its location in Seoul[12] since South Korea agreed to address the statue issue yet failed to do so. Afterward, a second statue was erected in Busan. Japan then recalled two diplomats from South Korea and halted high-level talks.[13] South Korea also terminated the 2015 agreement on 21 November 2018 and effectively shut down the Japanese-funded comfort women foundation that was set up to pay the agreed settlement.[14][15] Japan maintains that the agreement is still legally binding and therefore, the placement of the statue is illegal.[16]

Local opposition to the Statue of Peace in the United States Edit

In July 2021, the city council in Aurora, Colorado voted against a proposal for a Statue of Peace to be installed on public property. After the vote, city staff wrote "The memorials have attracted a wide range of community response including peaceful and antagonistic free speech events, vandalism, Asian hate, and legal action requesting removal". The letter also states, "The City of Aurora is the most culturally diverse community in Colorado with many Asian citizens. The memorial represents an unresolved dispute between South Korea and Japan. Based on this information the Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Department believes the memorial placement on city-owned property is not a compatible use".[17]

Other statues inspired by the Statue of Peace Edit

The issue of comfort women and the Statue of Peace has inspired other such monuments to be built in Seoul and in cities around the world with sizeable Korean populations.[7][18] The Column of Strength, a comfort women statue in San Francisco, is the first in a major U.S. city. After the statue was revealed, Osaka, Japan ended its decades-long sister-city relationship.[19]

In May 2012, officials in Koreatown, Palisades Park, New Jersey, rejected requests by two diplomatic delegations from Japan to remove a small monument from a public park, a brass plaque on a block of stone, dedicated in 2010 to the memory of the comfort women.[20][21] Days later, a South Korean delegation endorsed the borough's decision.[22] However, in neighboring Koreatown, Fort Lee, various Korean American groups could not reach a consensus on the design and wording for such a monument as of early April 2013.[23][24] In October 2012, a similar memorial was announced in nearby Hackensack, New Jersey, to be raised behind the Bergen County Courthouse, alongside memorials to the Holocaust, the Great Irish Famine, Slavery in the United States, and the Armenian genocide,[25] and it was unveiled in March 2013.[26][27]

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ "NCCK Special Declaration Rejects "Comfort Women" Agreement". Kukmin Daily. 28 January 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  2. ^ "Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. 13 January 2017. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  3. ^ Chun, Dongho (1 May 2020). "The Battle of RepresentationsGazing at the Peace Monument or Comfort Women Statue". Positions: Asia Critique. 28 (2): 363–387. doi:10.1215/10679847-8112482. ISSN 1067-9847. S2CID 219042149.
  4. ^ "Weekly 'Comfort Women' Protest at Japan Embassy in Seoul in its 24th Year | Journalism Without Walls Korea 2016". Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  5. ^ a b Choe, Sang-hun (15 December 2011). "Statue Deepens Dispute Over Wartime Sexual Slavery". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  6. ^ "Sculptor to make symbol of Vietnam massacres". koreatimes. 21 June 2017. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  7. ^ a b CHOE, SANG-HUN (28 October 2015). "Statues Placed in South Korea Honor 'Comfort Women' Enslaved for Japan's Troops". New York Times. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  8. ^ Sanger, David E. (14 January 1992). "Japan Admits Army Forced Koreans to Work in Brothels". The New York Times.
  9. ^ "부산 소녀상 보호, 법적 근거 마련됐다". 30 June 2017.
  10. ^ "Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers' Meeting". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Retrieved 8 July 2021.
  11. ^ ""한국이 소녀상 철거 약속"…"그런 약속 없었다"" ["South Korea's promise to remove the Statue of Peace" ... "There was no such promise in the first place."]. SBS NEWS. 17 February 2022. Retrieved 22 April 2023.
  12. ^ Firn, Mike (31 December 2015). "'Comfort women' statue threatens to derail Japan-South Korea accord". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  13. ^ Han, Sol; Griffiths, James (10 February 2017). "Why this statue of a young girl caused a diplomatic incident". CNN. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
  14. ^ Kim Tong-Hyung, Associated Press (21 November 2018). "South Korea Shuts Japanese-Funded 'Comfort Women' Foundation". Time. Archived from the original on 21 November 2018. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  15. ^ Choe Sang-Hun (21 November 2018). "South Korea Signals End to 'Final' Deal With Japan Over Wartime Sex Slaves". New York Times. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  16. ^ Arrington, Celeste (11 January 2018). "South Korea ended its review of its 'comfort women' deal with Japan. Here's what you need to know". The Washington Post.
  17. ^ Mason, Kara (8 June 2021). "Memorial honoring Korean 'comfort women' unanimously defeated by Aurora City Council". Sentinel Colorado. Retrieved 9 August 2021.
  18. ^ Park, Jae-hyuk (27 July 2016). "Japanese fight to block 'comfort woman' statue in Sydney". Korea Times. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  19. ^ Ingber, Sasha (4 October 2018). "Osaka, Japan, Ends Ties With San Francisco In Protest Of 'Comfort Women' Statue". NPR. Retrieved 29 October 2021.
  20. ^ Kirk Semple (18 May 2012). "In New Jersey, Memorial for 'Comfort Women' Deepens Old Animosity". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  21. ^ S.P. Sullivan (8 June 2013). "Sexual slavery issue, discussed internationally, pivots around one little monument in N.J." New Jersey On-Line LLC. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  22. ^ Monsy Alvarado (12 July 2012). "Palisades Park monument to 'comfort women' stirs support, anger". © 2012 North Jersey Media Group. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  23. ^ Dan Ivers (6 April 2013). "Critics cause Fort Lee to reconsider monument honoring Korean WWII prostitutes". New Jersey On-Line LLC. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  24. ^ Linh Tat (4 April 2013). "Controversy puts planned 'comfort women' memorial in Fort Lee on hold". North Jersey Media Group. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  25. ^ Rebecca D. O'Brien (14 October 2012). "New Jersey's Korean community awakens politically". © 2012 North Jersey Media Group Inc. All rights reserved. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
  26. ^ S.P. Sullivan (8 March 2013). "Bergen County marks International Women's Day with Korean 'comfort women' memorial". © 2013 New Jersey On-Line LLC. All rights reserved. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  27. ^ Monsy Alvarado (8 March 2013). "Memorial dedicated to women forced into sexual slavery during WWII". 2013 North Jersey Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  28. ^ "The Statue of Peace in Berlin: For peace! Against sexualized violence!". 1 October 2020. Retrieved 9 October 2020.

External links Edit

  Media related to Statue of Peace at Wikimedia Commons