SEOUL, Feb. 10 (Korea Bizwire) — Georgia’s state capital is set to become the first major city in the United States to accommodate a comfort woman statue, a monument representing sex slavery victims of Japan’s colonial rule.
Kim Baek-kyu, the former president of the Korean American Association of Greater Atlanta, said Wednesday (local time) that “the Statue of Peace (another name for the monument) will be erected at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights to commemorate the victims of the Japanese military.”
The museum is located just north of Centennial Olympic Park, next to the World of Coca Cola. It was established in 2014 to commemorate African-American civil rights activists from the 1950s and the 60s.
Kim said it took three years of discreet planning and efforts by both himself and many local Koreans until the statue was officially confirmed by the Atlanta museum. In fact, the human rights museum itself stepped up to the plate and helped the Korean community, he said.
The biggest significance of the new monument is the fact that Atlanta was one of the key battlegrounds during the African-American Civil Rights Movement, which in a way is in line with what comfort woman statues symbolize – the rights of women.
The city houses several monuments related to the movement, including the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.
However, the announcement comes at a rather difficult time for Korea-Japan diplomacy, which was aggravated last year when a civic organization in Busan erected a comfort woman statue right outside the Japanese consulate, and it’s very likely that the project will face strong opposition from right-wing Japanese activists.
Japanese extreme-right communities have made efforts in the past to block comfort woman statues or attempts at erecting monuments in American cities – namely the one in Glendale, California, which has been involved in a court dispute since it was built in 2013 but with a Federal court ruling in favor of the statue last year; and an attempt to erect a statue in Fullerton, also in California, that was scrapped in 2015 after strong resistance from Japanese groups.
As of last month, there were 56 comfort woman statues around the world.
By Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)