On June 28, a South Korean civic group addressed The Sankei Shimbun and JAPAN Striker about her campaign to remove the Comfort Women statue in Berlin, Germany. Reports of hampered protests and the last-minute cancellation of a scheduled meeting with city officials paint an uphill battle.
Journalist Kenji Yoshida accompanied the civic group and reported on the situation in Berlin. Yoshida works as a journalist in Seoul and is interested in historical issues between Japan and South Korea, such as the comfort women issue. He arrived in Berlin on June 25 to act as an interpreter for civic group leader Joo Oksoon and other members.
The group, calling itself End Comfort Women Fraud, was formed in January 2022, to correct the lies surrounding the issue of comfort women.
According to Yoshida, those who went to Berlin were group leader Joo Oksoon, as well as bestselling co-author Lee Woo-yeon. Anti-Japanese tribalism and research committee member of the Naksungdae Institute of Economic Research, and Kim Byungheon, author of Akai Suiyobi 30 Nenkan no Ianfu Waikyoku (lit. “Red Wednesday: 30 Years of Comfort Women Distortion”) and director of the Korean History Textbook Research Institute. Yoshida, as a performer, was the fourth member of the group.
Hostile reception in Berlin
With the authorization of the authorities, the group organized a demonstration in the morning and evening of June 26 in front of the statue of the comfort women which had been erected in the Berlin district of Mitte. They demanded the removal of the statue on the grounds that the comfort women issue was shrouded in fabrication and lies and even led to animosity between nations.
But local activists had covered the statue of the comfort women with blue netting. About 60 Korean activists gathered near the protest and launched condemnatory tirades against the group. Some of the activists turned violent, escalating the situation into confrontation and prompting the intervention of local police.
The group’s effort was further escalated when it received a last-minute email from the Mitte City Council canceling a meeting between the civic group and the mayor of Mitte, which had been scheduled for June 27.
To top it off, a water leak at the hotel where the members were staying soaked the computer they had brought and hampered communications.
Open a dialogue about the facts
Despite the ordeal, the group managed to submit opinion letters and statements to authorities in Berlin and the Mitte district, and also held a meeting with local Korean residents.
The group said: “We came here to expose the lies of the local Korean civic group who led the installation of the comfort women statue. We had planned various attempts to hinder our efforts. South Korean media have covered our activities from different angles, but we won’t give up until the end.
On the evening of July 5, JAPAN Striker will organize an online conference entitled “Will the statue of the comfort women in Berlin be removed? Mr. Yoshida will discuss the group’s efforts in Berlin and share his thoughts on future initiatives. Find access and learn more at this link.
(Read the article in Japanese at this link.)