Seeking the True Story of the Comfort Women, The New Yorker

The New Yorker, February 26, 2021

“Meanwhile, in South Korea, resentment about Japan’s attempts to downplay its responsibility had been building, sometimes hardening into intolerance of anything short of a purist story of the Japanese military kidnapping Korean virgins for sex slavery at gunpoint. In 2015, a Korean academic named Park Yu-ha was sued civilly by comfort women for defamation, and criminally indicted by Korean prosecutors, for the publication of a book that explored the role of Koreans in recruiting the women and the loving relationships that some comfort women developed with Japanese soldiers while they were confined in a “slavelike condition.” The book did not, as some have claimed, absolve Japan of responsibility or deny the comfort women’s brutal victimization. Gordon, the Harvard historian of modern Japan, signed onto a letter with sixty-six other scholars, in Japan and the U.S., expressing “great consternation and concern” at the South Korean government’s indictment of Park, and conveying appreciation for her book’s scholarly achievement. Park was ultimately found civilly liable, and was ordered to pay damages to comfort women; she was acquitted of the criminal defamation charges, with the trial court citing her academic freedom, but an appellate court overturned that verdict and fined her.”

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