SEOUL – An exhibition of a popular Japanese manga series opened Saturday at Seoul’s War Memorial of Korea after a court ruled the government-run facility was contractually obligated to run the show despite its objections.
Around 80 fans, including families with children, lined up to await the opening of the collection of works from “One Piece,” a series about a crew of pirates searching for fabled treasure.
Initially scheduled to start July 12, the show was put on hold when the War Memorial of Korea canceled a contract renting exhibition space to the organizers, citing a drawing in the original comic series resembling the Rising Sun, which arouses anti-Japanese sentiment in South Korea due to its history as a military flag.
A Seoul district court on July 18 ordered the institution to uphold the contract after the organizers complained. No such flag is displayed in the exhibition itself, the organizers pointed out.
One fan of Japanese anime who attended the exhibition with friends, 34-year-old Yun Un Hui, expressed relief that the event was going ahead, adding she had feared the War Memorial of Korea was not the best choice of venue. “If culture gets tied up in politics and diplomatic issues, it’s hard on people like me who like (Japanese) culture,” Yun said.
According to the organizers, the show took the top spot in online ticket bookings for exhibitions in South Korea as of Saturday.
The Rising Sun’s history as a military flag makes it a point of tension in South Korea, where anti-Japanese sentiment still runs high due to Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.