Statue of Peace

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Statue of Peace
Hangul평화의 소녀
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 the same as it in front of the Embassy of Japan in Seoul, South Korea
Completion dateDecember 10, 2011 (2011-12-10)

The Statue of Peace (Korean: 평화의 소녀상, Pyeonghwaui sonyeosang), also often called Sonyeosang (literally "Statue of Girl")[1] in Korean pronunciation or Comfort Woman Statue (慰安婦像, Ianfu-zō) in Japan,[2] is a symbol of the victims of sexual slavery, known as comfort women, by the Japanese imperial military during World War II. The Statue of Peace was erected to call for apology and remembrance.


Statue of Peace from behind, facing the Embassy of Japan in Seoul

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.[3] 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.[4] Yeongjong Kim, who was head of Jongno-gu, provided design ideas and works of art in the form of a girl instead of a memorial stone.[citation needed] The Statue of Peace was designed by the couple Kim Seo-kyung and Kim Eun-sung.[5] The statue depicts a girl dressed in a chima jeogori (a modified form of hanbok in the late 19th-early 20th century), with small hands and short hair, sitting and staring at the Embassy of Japan in central Seoul.[4]

Japan has repeatedly demanded that the statue be removed, but Seoul and especially the victims have rejected such demands consistently as the Japanese government has never officially admitted its direct involvement of the military with regards to the comfort women issue.[6]

Until now in South Korea, since the Statue of Peace has not been designated as public sculpture it was hard to intensely supervise damaging the statue, but on 30th June 2017, the civil congress of Busan, South Korea, made the legal foundation to protect the Statue of Peace by passing the relative ordinance [7]. By reason of this, it has become difficult to shift the site or demolish the statue.

Other statues inspired by the Statue of Peace[edit]

The issue of comfort women and the Statue of Peace has inspired other such statues to be built in Seoul and in cities around the world with sizable Korean populations.[6][8]

In May 2012, officials in the borough of Palisades Park in Bergen County, 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 so-called comfort women, tens of thousands of women and girls, many Korean, who were forced into sexual slavery by Japanese soldiers during World War II.[9][10] Days later, a South Korean delegation endorsed the borough's decision.[11] However, in neighboring Fort Lee, New Jersey, various Korean American groups could not reach consensus on the design and wording for such a monument as of early April 2013.[12][13] 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 Irish Potato Famine, and the Armenian Genocide,[14] and was unveiled in March 2013.[15][16] An apology and monetary compensation of roughly US$8 million by Japan to South Korea in December 2015 for these transgressions largely fell flat in Bergen County, where the first U.S. monument to pay respects to comfort women was erected.[17] However, the controversial Japanese comfort women foundation which was launched to July 2016 to finance this settlement was shut down by South Korea on November 21, 2018, effectively bringing an end to the 2015 agreement.[18][19]

Diplomatic incident with Japan[edit]

In December 2015, Japan stated that it would not pay ¥1 billion as compensation unless the statue was removed from its location in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul.[20] An agreement was reached in 2015. Afterwards, a second statue was erected in Busan. Japan then recalled two diplomats from South Korea and halted high-level talks.[21] South Korea also terminated the 2015 agreement on November 21, 2018 and effectively shut down the Japanese-funded comfort women foundation which was set up to pay the agreed settlement.[18][19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "NCCK Special Declaration Rejects "Comfort Women" Agreement". Kukmin Daily. 2016-01-28. Retrieved 2017-01-31.
  2. ^ "Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. 2017-01-13. Retrieved 2017-01-31.
  3. ^ "Weekly 'Comfort Women' Protest at Japan Embassy in Seoul in its 24th Year | Journalism Without Walls Korea 2016". Retrieved 2017-02-09.
  4. ^ a b Choe, Sang-hun (15 December 2011). "Statue Deepens Dispute Over Wartime Sexual Slavery". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  5. ^ "Sculptor to make symbol of Vietnam massacres". koreatimes. 2017-06-21. Retrieved 2017-06-22.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Park, Jae-hyuk (27 July 2016). "Japanese fight to block 'comfort woman' statue in Sydney". Korea Times. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  9. ^ Kirk Semple (May 18, 2012). "In New Jersey, Memorial for 'Comfort Women' Deepens Old Animosity". The New York Times. Retrieved June 9, 2013.
  10. ^ S.P. Sullivan (June 8, 2013). "Sexual slavery issue, discussed internationally, pivots around one little monument in N.J." New Jersey On-Line LLC. Retrieved June 9, 2013.
  11. ^ Monsy Alvarado (July 12, 2012). "Palisades Park monument to 'comfort women' stirs support, anger". © 2012 North Jersey Media Group. Retrieved 2012-07-12.
  12. ^ Dan Ivers (April 6, 2013). "Critics cause Fort Lee to reconsider monument honoring Korean WWII prostitutes". New Jersey On-Line LLC. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  13. ^ Linh Tat (April 4, 2013). "Controversy puts planned 'comfort women' memorial in Fort Lee on hold". North Jersey Media Group. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  14. ^ Rebecca D. O'Brien (2012-10-14). "New Jersey's Korean community awakens politically". © 2012 North Jersey Media Group Inc. All rights reserved. Retrieved 2012-10-19.
  15. ^ S.P. Sullivan (March 8, 2013). "Bergen County marks International Women's Day with Korean 'comfort women' memorial". © 2013 New Jersey On-Line LLC. All rights reserved. Retrieved 2013-03-08.
  16. ^ Monsy Alvarado (March 8, 2013). "Memorial dedicated to women forced into sexual slavery during WWII". 2013 North Jersey Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Retrieved 2013-03-08.
  17. ^ Matthew McGrath (December 28, 2015). "Mixed reaction to Japan apology on 'comfort women'". North Jersey Media Group. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  18. ^ a b Kim Tong-Hyung, Associated Press (November 21, 2018). "South Korea Shuts Japanese-Funded 'Comfort Women' Foundation". Time. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  19. ^ a b Choe Sang-Hun (November 21, 2018). "South Korea Signals End to 'Final' Deal With Japan Over Wartime Sex Slaves". New York Times. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  20. ^ Firn, MIke (31 Dec 2015). "'Comfort women' statue threatens to derail Japan-South Korea accord". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  21. ^ Han, Sol; Griffiths, James (10 February 2017). "Why this statue of a young girl caused a diplomatic incident". CNN. Retrieved 22 April 2017.

External links[edit]