The following is an English translation of Professor Jun BongGwan's review of the book "Comfort Women of the Empire." Jun BongGwan is a professor of Korean Literature at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. The review was published on July 20, 2014 in ChosunIlbo.
Professor Park Yuha, the author of "Comfort Women of the Empire," has published five books on Korean literature during the annexation period. But I didn't know she published a book called "Comfort Women of the Empire." I found out about it because I heard the news that her book got banned and that she was being sued for defamation by a Korean civic group.
After reading the book, I was a little bit disappointed because there was nothing in the book that I didn't know. We all knew that Korean comfort women were not coercively taken away by the Japanese military. Korean comfort station owners recruited women in the Korean Peninsula and operated comfort stations in the battlefields. The Japanese military was busy fighting all over Asia, and it certainly didn't have time to be in Korea recruiting women.
Although Professor Park Yuha recognizes that Japan's imperialism was the root cause of women's suffering, she claims that Korean comfort station owners were legally responsible as well. I disagree with her logic because the Japanese military did allow Korean owners to recruit women. So the Japanese military was the one legally responsible in my opinion.
Korean fathers and brothers who sold their daughters and sisters, Korean comfort station owners who deceived women, Korean town chiefs who encouraged those acts. They all should be held accountable someday. But now is not the time. We must make Japan apologize and compensate again before we admit our responsibility.
If one reads the book carefully, it is clear that Professor Park had no intent to defame former comfort women. But it was not smart for her to suggest that Korea and Japan should both admit responsibility.