US Official’s ‘Comfort Women’ Remarks Anger Local Korean Groups

Antony Blinken (Photo via U.S. Embassy Nigeria, Creative Commons license)

Antony Blinken (Photo via U.S. Embassy Nigeria, Creative Commons license)

United States Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s remark – which some interpret as asking Korean organizations in the U.S. to refrain from protesting against the agreement reached by the Korean and Japanese governments – is controversial within the Korean community.

On Jan. 18, 2016, NHK Broadcasting reported an interview with Blinken – who visited Japan to participate in a three-way meeting between Korea, Japan and the U.S. – saying that “The US Deputy Secretary of State has called on Korean-American civic groups to support an agreement reached between Japan and South Korea to settle the issue of those referred to as comfort women.”

NHK analyzed his remark as a demand that Korean organizations refrain from actions such as the promotion of the establishment of comfort women monuments in the U.S.

With respect to his remark, Korean organizations that support such actions intend to continue their efforts to establish the monuments and opposed his statement by saying, “it was a very improper remark.”

Dong Chan Kim, president of Korean American Civic Empowerment, who assisted in the passage of the resolution on comfort women in the House of Representatives, said: “It was the federal government that passed the resolution on the comfort women issue in 2007. I cannot believe that he made such a remark in Japan and I question his qualifications as deputy secretary of state. It seems that he is only taking the comfort women problem as a matter of economic or diplomatic negotiation. We are considering sending a letter to the State Department in regard to his remark.”

Yoon Hee Choi (Christine Colligan), co-president of the Korean American Parents Association of Greater New York, with the cooperation of New York state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Queens), plans to send an opposing statement to Deputy Secretary Blinken’s office as well as a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of South Korea demanding action.

“Regardless of the agreement on the comfort women issue between the Korean and Japanese governments, what really matters is to educate future generations about undistorted history. Even the deputy secretary does not have rights to regulate civic groups and their efforts to protect their own history,” she stressed.

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