SEOUL – A new statue symbolizing Korean victims of Japan’s forced labor during World War II was installed in front of Yongsan Station in the heart of Seoul on Saturday.
During Japan’s brutal colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945, requisitioned laborers were gathered at the station for distribution to Japanese companies.
South Korea’s two major central labor union groups, the Federation of Korean Trade Unions and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, led the movement to build the monument, saying it is a site representative of that harsh period in history.
The 2-meter statue was erected “to make the reality of Japanese imperialism widely known and win an official acknowledgment and apology from the Japanese government, in efforts to make sure that this tragic history is not repeated,” Kim Ju-young, president of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions, said at an unveiling ceremony.
Another statue has been installed at a park in Incheon, just west of Seoul.
Projects are underway to build similar statues, including one in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul. The Japanese government has asked South Korean authorities to prevent them.
In South Korea, former laborers have filed damages suits against Japanese companies that used them during the war.
In two rulings last week, the Gwangju District Court ordered Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. to compensate female former workers and the families of those who have since died.