The Truth about Korean Comfort Women.

Relations between South Korea and Japan have deteriorated significantly in recent years. The dispute has nothing to do with the present. Instead, it’s about History.


More than 100 years ago, Japan occupied the Korean peninsula and other territories. After the end of war, all grievances and claims were later settled by treaties. But in recent year, leftist groups in South Korea have dug up historical controversies and hatred against Japanese people. They focused on the issue of “Comfort Women”, women who worked in military brothels.


The subject of wartime prostitution is deeply uncomfortable and offensive to many. Most nations and wars have soldiers who engaged in solicitation, but why is it that still today?


Japanese people are singled out for criticism and attacks for events from more than 75 years ago. Much of the confusion surrounding the comfort women issue is based on the spread of several key myths. So let’s separate the myths from facts.


Myth #1 : Comfort Women were sex slaves.

There is no documentary evidence to support the “slavery” claim. In fact, the original claim of forced recruitment made by Seiji Oshida was revealed to have been fabricated but not before the fake news became mythologized. Activists claimed that all Korean Comfort were kidnapped, dragooned, and forced to work against their will. But unfortunately, there is no documentary evidence to support that claim.

Rather, military comfort stations were regulated by contracts and payments. There is evidence of newspaper advertisements offering comfort station jobs, and numerous testimonies of Comfort Women who earn significant paid salaries. Furthermore, many surviving Comfort Women disagree with the term “sex slave”.

Former Comfort Woman Young Soo Lee has said that she strongly disagreed with the activists using the “sex slave” terminology, which she found demeaning and defamatory. But the activists started using the term against her wishes, because they believed it would generate greater public outrage.



 Myth #2 : Japan kidnapped 200,000 Korean women forcing them to work as Comfort Women.


According to researchers the actual number of Korean comfort women was approximately 4,000 to 6,000, as the vast majority working in comfort stations were Japanese. The exaggeration of the scale of Korean comfort women is a deliberately misleading claim by activists which has no basis in fact or evidence. According to records, there were a total of 500 comfort stations and 2.5 million Japanese soldiers – making the claim of 200,000 from Korea not only implausible, but impossible. “It is completely incorrect to say that there were tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of Korean Comfort Women” said by Professor Lee Young-Hoon of Seoul National University.


Myth #3 : Japan still owes South Korea an apology and compensation for Comfort Women.

Japan has officially apologized dozens of times since the 1990s, from the Kono Statement to the 2015 “final and irreversible” agreement. Payments have been made to settle all claims, including under the 1965 treaty as well as the 1 billion yen fund established in 2015, which made payments to approximately 100 of recipients.

Nevertheless, South Korean activists and leadership continue to uphold the false claim that another apology is always owed. What they appear to be seeking, however, is forcing Japan to make false statements in support of these myths, ignoring the facts.

Dialogue between two partners is only possible when there is good faith, when we can work from a common reality based on facts. South Koreans and Japanese are entitled to have their own opinions on historical matters. But it is deeply irresponsible to poison relations and stir up hatred based on myths and lies. It is time to move forward into the future – a future based on truth.



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