Park Yu-ha

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Park Yu-ha
Revised RomanizationBak Yuha
McCune–ReischauerPak Yuha

Park Yu-ha (박유하, 朴裕河; born March 25, 1957) is a professor at the College of Liberal Arts, Sejong University.[1] Her research focuses on Japanese-Korean relations. Her 2013 book Comfort Women of the Empire criticized the Korean interpretation of comfort women as exclusively "sex slaves".[2][3] A Japanese language version of the book was published in Japan in November 2014.[4] Nine former comfort women in Nanume-Jip (나눔의 집), seeking to ban sales of the book, filed suit in both civil and criminal court, claiming that the scholar had defamed them.[5] In November 2015, a group of 54 scholars from Japan and the United States issued a statement criticizing South Korean prosecutors for “suppressing the freedom of scholarship and press.”[6][7] On January 25, 2017, the 11th criminal division of Seoul Dongbu District Court acquitted professor Park on the charges of defaming the comfort women survivors with her book.[8]

Academic career[edit]

Park graduated from Keio University in 1981. She earned an M.A. from Waseda University in 1989 and a Ph.D. in 1993.[1]

Comfort Women of the Empire[edit]

In her most controversial book Comfort Women of the Empire, Park challenges an established description of imperial Japan's military brothel system.

Based on historical documents and the testimony of comfort women, including several cases of comfort women who fell in love with Japanese soldiers, a soldier who took care of a sick woman, or soldiers who helped comfort women to return their home country, Park asserts the existence of hidden comfort women who have been excluded from the mainstream narrative of comfort women, mainly consisting of "Japanese military coerced Korean women" and "sex-slaves".[9] She describes a more complex relationship between the comfort women and soldiers.[10]

She says this kind of "comrade-like relationship" tragedy, which is basically a co-operative relationship of mobilized weak people by the name of patriotism, was a result of Japan's colonization of Joseon (Korea). Since Japan and Korea were superficially not distinguished as separate countries during the period of Japan's Korean annexation, the act of forcibly arresting Korean women could not have officially taken place, rather the dealers sold women to the "comfort station" by deception.[9]

She also says condemning Japan with requests that it take legal responsibility is not effective, considering the colonial status of Korea and the existence of the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea, and criticizes the way of Jong-Dae-Hyup (정대협, the main comfort women supporting NGO in South Korea)'s movement which has insisted on the "legal" responsibility of Japan.[11] Since Jong-Dae-Hyup's movement has only been focused on the legal responsibility of Japan, even including some forged facts, it has increased hostility between Japan and Korea, and also caused some people in Japan to turn away. Furthermore, excluding other comfort women's stories which do not fit into the pre-existing image of "pure innocent teen girls who were arrested by Japanese soldiers and coerced to be sex-slaves" is actually suppressing the real victims and makes the victim groups separated.[11][12]

Therefore, considering the historical situation, the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea in 1965, and the apology and compensation of Japan in the 1990s, Park gives her opinion that requesting responsibility for Japan's colonial domination is required, rather than trying to urge Japan to accept legal liability for the War.[10]

While she does state that Korea must face the truth correctly in order to hold Japan properly responsible for its offences, she also criticizes Japan at the same time, for the rightwing extremists in Japan excuse their responsibility by the treaty between Japan and Korea in 1965 and the compensation in 1990. While Park acknowledges the treaty in 1965, she avers that Japan took legal responsibilities only for the individuals as per the necessary process after the War, and also, she censures the compensation of 1990 for failing to be disseminated throughout Korea due to the Japanese government’s ambiguous attitude.[10]

As a result, Park seeks Japan, before other dominant empires of the past, to profoundly apologize for their actions of colonial domination and the case for the Korean comfort women, for this would be significantly meaningful internationally, and also for the Asian integration or co-operation in the near future.[10][13]

Park’s book Comfort women of the Empire contains a significantly different narrative about comfort women compared to the previously accepted narratives, as it describes in depth of the imperialistic exploits by Japan, patriarchal system in Korea and also capitalistic exploits of the "dealers". This explanation brought fierce anger from the comfort women supporters, since her explanation were analyzed as "virtually an exoneration to Japan" from the critics. She was sued by nine comfort women who had filed from Nanume-Jip (나눔의 집) and paid 10 million won, or $8,262, to each of nine women. She was also accused by Korean prosecutor. This trial is on progress.[14]

On 25 November 2015, against the indictment of Park, 54 Japanese scholars and intellectuals including Kenzaburō Ōe (大江 健三郎, Nobel Laureate) Tomiichi Murayama (村山 富市, former Prime minister of Japan), Yōhei Kōno (河野 洋平, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan) and Chizuko Ueno (上野 千鶴子, professor, Tokyo University) addressed statements supporting Park Yu-ha, and asking for the Korean government's withdrawal of the accusation. 190 Korean intellectuals also followed the statements.[15] On January 17 2017, Professor Noam Chomsky at MIT and Professor Bruce Cumings at University of Chicago joined in the previous statements addressed by Japanese scholars previously, with requesting immediate withdrawal of presecusion or sentence 'Not guilty', with supporting Park Yu-ha.[16][17]

On 1 February 2016, Park made the book available online hoping to help solve the comfort women issue.[18]


  • "제국의 위안부 - 식민지지배와 기억의 투쟁" [Comfort women of the empire: the battle over colonial rule and memory] (PDF) (in Korean). 뿌리와이파리 [Ppuliwaipali]. 2013. ISBN 9788964620304.
  • "帝国の慰安婦 植民地支配と記憶の闘い" [Comfort women of the empire: the battle over colonial rule and memory] (in Japanese). 朝日新聞出版 [Asahi Shimbun Publications Inc.] 2014. ISBN 9784022511737.
  • "화해를 위해서 - 교과서.위안부.야스쿠니.독도" [For reconciliation: Textbook, Comfort women, Yasukuni shrine and Liancourt Rocks] (in Korean). Ban-yangjangbon. 2005. ISBN 9788990024466. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  • "和解のために−教科書・慰安婦・靖国・独島" [For reconciliation: Textbook, Comfort women, Yasukuni shrine and Liancourt Rocks] (in Japanese). Heibonsha Ltd, Pub. 2006. ISBN 9784582702651. Missing or empty |url= (help)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "College of Liberal Arts". Sejong University.
  2. ^ "New South Korean Academic Writings on Contemporary Japan and Japanese-Korean Relations". The Asan Institute for Policy Studies. November 22, 2013.
  3. ^ "Korean author issues call for talks on sex slave issue". The Japan Times. 30 September 2013.
  4. ^ Togo, Kazuhiko. "Park Yuha indictment risks hindering ROK–Japan reconciliation". East Asia Forum. East Asia Forum. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  5. ^ "Wartime sex slaves seek sales ban on defamatory book". The Korea Times. 15 June 2014.
  6. ^ "Japanese, U.S. scholars attack Seoul's indictment of professor over 'comfort women' book". The Asahi Shimbun. November 27, 2015.
  7. ^ Yoshino, Taichiro. "「帝国の慰安婦」朴裕河教授の在宅起訴に学者ら54人抗議声明". The Huffington Post - Japan Edition. The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  8. ^ Kim, Kyu-nam (January 26, 2017). "Professor found not guilty of defaming former comfort women". The Hankyoreh. Retrieved March 27, 2017.
  9. ^ a b Institute, Pursuit Of Truth (2016-04-30). "Comfort Women Articles by Scholars: "Comfort Women of the Empire" by Professor Park Yuha". Comfort Women Articles by Scholars. Retrieved 2016-08-06.
  10. ^ a b c d "Rightists distort author Park Yu-ha's views on 'comfort women' | The Japan Times". Retrieved 2016-08-06.
  11. ^ a b "『제국의 위안부』 삭제판 다운로드 | 박유하 『제국의 위안부』 , 법정에서 광장으로". Retrieved 2016-08-06.
  12. ^ "Yuha Park, How We Should Consider the Comfort Women Issue Based on Discussions between Ikuhiko Hata and Yoshiaki Yoshimi | 박유하 『제국의 위안부』 , 법정에서 광장으로". Retrieved 2016-08-06.
  13. ^ "Genichiro Takahashi, 'Comfort women' denied ownership of their memories | 박유하 『제국의 위안부』 , 법정에서 광장으로". Retrieved 2016-08-06.
  14. ^ Sang-hun, Choe (2016-01-13). "Professor Ordered to Pay 9 Who Said 'Comfort Women' Book Defamed Them". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-08-06.
  15. ^ "Statement against the Indictment of Professor Yuha Park | 박유하 『제국의 위안부』 , 법정에서 광장으로". Retrieved 2016-08-06.
  16. ^ "Professor Noam Chomsky's Endorsement (Jan 16, 2017) | 박유하 『제국의 위안부』 , 법정에서 광장으로". Retrieved 2017-01-18.
  17. ^ "Professor Bruce Cumings' Endorsement (Jan 17, 2017) | 박유하 『제국의 위안부』 , 법정에서 광장으로". Retrieved 2017-01-18.
  18. ^ "박유하 교수가 '제국의 위안부'를 온라인에 전격 공개했다" [Professor Park Y-ha made Comfort Women of the Empire available online]. The Huffington Post. 1 February 2016.

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