SEOUL, July 30 (Korea Bizwire) — Kim Chang-yeol, head of Korea Botanic Garden which displays a pair of statues featuring a man who resembles Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe bowing to a figure of a seated young girl, said Wednesday he has no plan to remove the statues called ‘Everlasting Atonement.’
In his interview with CBS Radio, Kim was asked if he planned to remove the statues.
In response, Kim said he has no such plans, adding, “It’s nonsense to put aside something I set up in my garden just because neighbors grumble about it. I will put it as it is, allowing visitors to come to see and take a photo of it.”
The bronze statues concerned are an artwork installed at a private botanical garden in Pyeongchang County in Gangwon Province. The statues feature a man bowing to a figure of a seated young girl.
The problem is that some reports claim that the man resembles Abe, leading to an angry reaction from the Japanese government.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that freedom of expression should be respected but if reports of the statues were true, it would be an unforgivable breach of international protocol.
Kim repeatedly stressed that the statue is not modeled after Abe.
“The man is not Abe but just someone who apologizes to the comfort woman. The artwork would be less meaningful if it’s modeled after someone like Abe who will step down someday soon.”
In response to the Japanese government’s protest against the statues, he said, “This is nothing compared to Japan’s wrongdoings. Japan says the statues are a great breach of etiquette despite the fact that they are nothing but statues created simply by an individual,”
“Instead of acknowledging its wrongdoings, Japan still insists that Dokdo is Japanese territory. Besides, the recent trade issue between the two countries and Japan’s attitude towards Korea indicate that Japan has a self-centric mind,” he added.
J. S. Shin (firstname.lastname@example.org)