A South Korean university professor indicted over her book on “comfort women” said her descriptions were based entirely on historical documents and warned that her defamation case could negatively affect other scholars.
The Seoul Eastern District Prosecutors Office on Nov. 18 indicted Park without arrest for allegedly defaming the honor of former comfort women and deviating from academic freedom in connection with her book, “Comfort Women of the Empire.” Park said that before her indictment, she was questioned on five occasions by prosecutors and police starting last year. After the second session, one of those questioning her told her they had no case.
But other officials continued the questioning. “I felt that the views of those handling the questioning were not being respected and that some form of pressure had been applied,” she said. On one occasion, Park said a prosecutor asked her, “Are you saying that these elderly women were prostitutes?”
Park said, “I never wrote the book with the intent of hurting the former comfort women.” She said her book was intended to show the various circumstances in which the former comfort women were placed through testimony she collected. "I made all of my interpretations based on historical documents,” Park said. “I have not identified any individual in the book, and I even feel that I emphasized how truly wretched the conditions were in which the comfort women were placed.”
She also explained that the issue goes beyond a single book. “We have come to an age when everyone should face the issue of how to face history,” Park said. She indicated that she was considering a scholarly endeavor of examining what lies at the root of the thinking of those opposed to her book. But she also explained the uncertainty of her own academic future. Under regulations of Sejong University, any staff member who is indicted is to be fired.