• JIJI, Staff Report


A groundbreaking ceremony for a statue of a girl symbolizing so-called comfort women was held in a suburb of Washington on Thursday.

The statue, to be put up by the end of the month, may stir up tensions between Japan and South Korea.

The issue of comfort women, or women who worked in wartime brothels, including those who did so against their will, to provide sex to Japanese soldiers before and during World War II, is a sensitive issue between the two Asian countries because many Koreans were among them.

The statue has been stored in a warehouse since 2016, when a Korean-American group tried to set it up in Washington but failed due to protests, according to Park Jun-hyeong, head of the group.

The establishment of the statue will be realized after the group found private land to place it in Annandale, northern Virginia, home to a large number of Korean-Americans.

The statue, the fifth of its kind in the United States and the first near the capital, will be unveiled on Oct. 27.

The purpose of the statue is to “inform or educate our people,” Park said, noting that some, including second-generation Korean-Americans born and raised in the United States, don’t know the history of Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

The move came solely “from women and from citizens,” Park said, denying any ties with the South Korean government.