National Liberation Day: Statue honouring forced labourers to be erected near Japan embassy in Seoul

As part of the commemoration of the National Liberation Day, a South Korean civic group plans to erect a statue in Seoul honouring the forced labourers during the Japanese occupation in the 1910s.

National Liberation Day
A statue will be erected beside the Statue of Girl of Peace in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul. Sakaori, Wikimedia Commons

Civic activists and descendants of forced labourers in South Korea are planning to erect a monument to honour the slaved workers during the Japanese rule.

The South Korean civic group is eyeing to build the monument near the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, standing next to the Girl of Peace statue which was built in memory of trafficking victims.

According to a report from the Straits Times, the group is set to hold a groundbreaking ceremony on August 15, marking the 72nd anniversary of South Korea's liberty from Japan's 35-year colonisation.

The Girl of Peace artist Kim Woon Sung is expected to carve the statue standing three metres tall and four metres wide. It will have a slate that explains the history of forced labourers.

Additionally, two labourer statues are also in the works and will be installed near the Japanese consulate in Busan city and another in Gwangju Station.

Whilst this move is seen as a symbol of commemoration, the movement has seen backlashes already, worsening the already strained relations between Seoul and Tokyo due to the Girl of Peace.

Straits Times noted that South Korea's Foreign Ministry has already expressed doubts and reservations with the planned establishment of the statue, deeming it not desirable in view of international customs.

To recall, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has tagged the civic group a "big problem". In 2015, Japan urged the South Korean government to remove the Girl of Peace Statue.

Over the weekend, two similar statues depicting the forced labourers were set up, one in front of Yongsan Station in Seoul and another in Incheon. This came after the labour groups Federation of Korean Trade Unions and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions set up another statue in Tanba City in Japan last year.

Meanwhile, a separate report from the Korean Herald said downtown buses in Seoul will don teenage girl statues symbolizing former sex slaves for Japanese soldiers during World War II to take part in the commemoration of the National Liberation Day.

Until the end of September, five buses will be carrying a light-weight copy of the Statue of a Girl of Peace.

Around 200,000 women were reported to have been forced by Japanese authorities to work as sex slaves, most of whom were Korean whilst others were from China, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Indonesia.