SEOUL, Oct. 20 (Korea Bizwire) — Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo said Sunday that it will suspend a new advertisement following allegations that the advertisement defamed victims of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery.
Uniqlo’s latest commercial, aired globally, sparked suspicions in South Korea that it could be intended to ridicule sexual slavery victims due to a difference in the translation of an English-language remark into Korean.
In the commercial, a 98-year-old women says to her teenaged granddaughter, “I can’t remember that far back,” but its Korean subtitle says roughly, “I can’t remember things more than 80 years ago.”
Critics claimed that Uniqlo intentionally translated the old women’s line as such in order to mock the sexual slavery victims, as the atrocity happened when the Korean Peninsula was under the Japanese colonization in 1910-1945.
Uniqlo denied the suspicions. “We did not have any political motive,” the company said in a statement.
“However, we decided to halt the advertisement after taking into consideration that some people were disturbed by that part of the contents.”
The company argued that subtitles were translated to emphasize the age difference between the two models and to make it easier for local customers to understand the intent of the advertisement.
The issue of wartime sexual slavery is one of the thorns in relations between the South and Japan.
Historians estimate that up to 200,000 women, mostly from Korea, were mobilized to work in frontline brothels for Japanese soldiers during the war. Korea was a Japanese colony from 1910-45.