(From Korea JoonAng Daily)
The creators of the famous Peace Monument in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul are now planning a new project to memorialize victims of the Vietnam War (1960-75).
Kim Seo-kyung and Kim Eun-sung, who have been married for 26 years, believe that as much as the Korean people want the Japanese government to atone for its wartime atrocities, so, too, the Korean government needs to step up and acknowledge its past wrong doings.
The controversy over the Japanese imperial military’s sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War II is ongoing, even though the governments of the two countries reached a diplomatic agreement to resolve the issue last month. The deal struck Dec. 28 includes an apology from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the creation of a state-backed fund for the victims, amounting to approximately 1 billion yen ($8.3 million). The two sides also discussed the possibility of relocating the Peace Monument, which was installed in 2011, but so far no action has been taken.
The artists have made seven different sculptures memorializing former Korean sex slaves, euphemistically known as “comfort women,” of which 25 castings are located in Korea and two in the United States. They also have plans to install three more in the coming months.
But the two sculptors have recently turned their attention to different victims. Some records indicate that the Korean military also committed atrocities by massacring Vietnamese civilians during the Vietnam War.
“This kind of history and that kind of history is all ours, whether it is something to be proud of or something that falls short,” said Kim Seo-kyung. “Just as ordinary Japanese civilians’ willingness to care about comfort women induced more Japanese to become aware of the issue, we need to start the movement to see what was done and how some Koreans once victimized others,” she added.
To commemorate civilians killed and injured during the Vietnam War, the sculptors are planning a statue of a mother holding a baby, tentatively named “Vietnam Pieta.” They plan to start making the statue in March, and hope to erect one in Korea and one in Vietnam, though the exact locations are not decided. Read more