Moon still being aloofPresident Moon Jae-in finally spoke on the ongoing controversy related to the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issues on Military Sexual Slavery by Japan and its former head and now ruling party lawmaker Yoon Mee-hyang. But the president’s casual mention and neglect to address the essence of the controversy only disappointed and angered the public.
In a secretarial meeting, Moon said it was not right to deny or demean the movement to bring justice to women forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese imperial military during World War II because such a move can hurt the dignity of the victims.
No one denies the cause of the movement. But the controversy over the Korean Council involves suspicion that the civic group has misused government subsidies and civilian donations instead of spending them on the victims and that a substantial sum went to the personal pocket of Yoon. The issue was raised by one of two surviving victims Lee Yong-soo who had known her for 30 years. She claimed Yoon exploited the victims over the past 30 years and questioned the whereabouts of the subsidies and public donations.
The president made no mention of the alleged wrongdoings of Yoon and the council. He only said the controversy has brought about the momentum to reassess NGO activities. His comment is not only irresponsible but also suggests condoning of the wrongdoings.
Lee has come under outrageous slander after her whistle-blowing. The offenders are paining her with vulgar and violent rhetoric. Yet he did not make any comment on them either.
The government is partly at fault for the controversy. The Moon Jae-in administration dismantled the fund established under an inter-government settlement between Seoul and Tokyo in 2015 by claiming that the rights and opinions of the victims were disregarded in the negotiating process. The government said it won’t proceed with renegotiation or touch Japan’s grant and instead would offer compensation from Korean government coffers. Two years have passed since then, but the government has not revisited the issue. Given the Constitutional Court’s ruling that the neglect of the comfort women issue has infringed on the basic rights of the victims, the government has violated the constitution by keeping the issue hanging.
Moon has not set a timetable to resolve the issues, which further highlights insensibility to the conundrum.