Prosecutors seek three years in prison for professor who wrote about comfort women

Posted on : 2016-12-21 17:48 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Park Yu-ha is accused of defaming former comfort women; she claims she intended to share “forgotten voices”
Sejong University Professor and author of “Comfort Women of the Empire” Park Yu-ha arrives at Seoul Dongbu District Court for her trial on Dec. 20. (by Kim Bong-kyu
Sejong University Professor and author of “Comfort Women of the Empire” Park Yu-ha arrives at Seoul Dongbu District Court for her trial on Dec. 20. (by Kim Bong-kyu

Prosecutors requested a three-year jail sentence for a Sejong University professor delivered for trial on charges of defaming survivors of sexual enslavement as Japanese military “comfort women.”

The charges against professor Park Yu-ha, 59, stem from claims made in her book “Comfort Women of the Empire.”

The prosecutors’ demand for prison time came on Dec. 20 during Park’s final trial in the 11th criminal division of Seoul Dongbu District Court under Judge Lee Sang-yun.

“[Park] has expressed no remorse for her deliberate distortions of historical fact and severely damaged the dignity of the victims,” the prosecutors said.

“Park defamed the victims by repeatedly stating falsely in her book that Japanese military comfort women were prostitutes in a relationship of ‘camaraderie’ with the Japanese troops and that there was no forcible mobilization of comfort women,” they added.

Ahead of the sentencing request, 89-year-old comfort woman survivor Lee Yong-su took the witness stand to solemnly relate her experience.

“When I was 16, I was sleeping in my bed when I was taken away by soldiers. I endured all kinds of torture, including electric shocks, because I wouldn’t go into the soldiers’ room,” she said tearfully. “I was taken to the kamikaze unit in Taiwan, and left in 1946.”

“Park Yu-ha wrote her book with absurdities. How can a professor like that teach students?” Lee continued. “Punish her sternly. I feel so victimized.”

Some onlookers in the gallery also teared up at her testimony.

Park‘s attorney said the professor “acknowledges in her book that the comfort women were forcibly mobilized sex slaves.”

“It is not right to take only a portion of the book and claim defamation,” her attorneys said in requesting an acquittal.

Park read an hour-long final statement prepared for the occasion.

“The late [comfort woman survivor] Bae Chun-hee said she had not been taken by force, and that she wanted to forgive Japan but could not say so,” she said. “I attempted to use the book to share these forgotten voices.”

“I don’t believe only my words represent the truth. I thought we should listen to what those involved have to say. My thought was that if thoughts differed, we should all rethink it together,” she added.

“Not once in the book did I deny [the comfort women] being forcibly seized by soldiers. The comfort women’s lives were terrible. I simply wanted to correct the perception that there was only forcible seizure,” she continued.

Park’s sentencing hearing is expected to take place at 3 pm on Jan. 25.

By Kim Kyu-nam, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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