Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon at the “The Story of the 2000 Women’s Tribunal” event held at the Seoul Center for Architecture and Urbanism on Mar. 3. On the left are Seoul National University (SNU) professor Yang Hyun-ah and SNU emeritus professor Chung Chin-sung. (provided by the Seoul Metropolitan Government)


Seoul mayor stresses importance of mending South Korea-Japan relations.

An event was recently held to shine a renewed spotlight on the 2000 women’s tribunal jointly held by South and North Korea 19 years ago to raise awareness of the victimization of so-called “comfort women” by the Japanese military. Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon declared during the recent event that “South Korea-Japan relations must be improved.”

On Mar. 3, Park attended an event titled “The Story of the 2000 Women’s Tribunal.” Organized for the centennial anniversary of the Mar. 1 Independence Movement, the event recreated the international citizens’ tribunal held in 2000 with nine Asian countries participating. Held at the Seoul Center for Architecture and Urbanism in Seoul’s Jongno district, it was moderated by Seoul National University (SNU) professor Yang Hyun-ah and took the form of a conversation with Park and SNU emeritus professor Chung Chin-sung. Park previously served as a prosecutor for the South Korean side during the 2000 tribunal.

During the event, Park stressed that South Korea-Japan relations “must be improved.”

“The relationship between Japan and South Korea is unfortunate. In contrast with peaceful Europe, we have been unable to escape the war,” he said.“How much longer must our relationship suffer? I ask myself this question as a politician,” he continued.

Park went on to stress, “When hostile relations worsen, it is a misfortune for both sides. The younger generations, private sector and local government need to work constantly to build friendship and form a peace regime that is more fundamentally sustainable.”

Park also noted Japanese figures who have worked to increase awareness of the comfort women’s victimization.“An individual named Yayori Matsui was a tremendous person who was central to the 2000 women’s tribunal being held in Japan,” he said.

“She has since passed away, but she is someone who strove from a gender-based perspective,” he added.A transnational event with nine Asian countries participating, the international citizens’ tribunal in 2000 was a civilian court whose decisions lacked legally binding force. At the same time, it served to raise international awareness of the serious issue of violence against women during wartime, and it is seen as ushering in a new chapter in women’s rights through the power of the public. During the tribunal, South and North Korean prosecution teams and comfort women survivors formed a single team to jointly lodge a complaint on the comfort women issue.


By Kim Mi-hyang, staff reporter, Hankyoreh