[OP-ED] Will Japan and South Korea Ever Find Peace in this Trade War?

Jay Yim, Oct. 21, 2019, 5:06 p.m.


Uniqlo was reported to have removed an ad from South Korea TV because it was accused of mocking the victims of wartime sexual slavery.

The commercial featured a 98-year-old US fashion figure, Iris Apfel, and designer Kheris Rogers, who is 13-years-old. Rogers asked Apfel how she used to dress when she was a teenager, where Apfel proceeds to reply with: "I can't remember that far back."

That was what she said word-for-word. But, when the Korean subtitles were added, it was worded as, "Oh my God, how can I remember what happened more than 80 years ago?"

To an ordinary person, this would be a pretty accurate translation. However, as you know, Japan and Korea have a long and ugly history together. The Korean Herald reported that many viewers interpreted the translation as a time reference to ridicule former sex slaves and forced labourers from the time Japan occupied the Korean Peninsula.

It's understandable why some Korean viewers could be offended and interpret it in that way, especially those who either lived through that time or had parents who lived through that time. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that when the company made this commercial, they weren't thinking of some way to insult or make a mockery out of the situation that happened all those years ago.

The company made mention of their intentions, and it was not to make any offence at all.

“The advertisement in question is a part of a global advertisement series to mark the 25th anniversary of fleece and it has no links to any political or religious agendas, belief or organisations, but we decided to stop airing the ad as we take it seriously that many people felt uncomfortable,” Uniqlo said in a statement.

They added that the Korean-language subtitles were worded in that way to emphasize the age gap between Apfel and Rogers.

This "new war" between Japan and Korea has been broiling for a long time. I haven't live through that time so I cannot directly make any statements. I think what is best for both countries is to figure out ways to come to peaceful terms, and if that means that the Japanese government finally comes forward and apologizes for what their country did all those years ago, then that would be the action needed to be taken, and for Korea to accept their apology.

Having a trading partner is very important for the economy of a country because let's face it, no-one country has absolutely all the necessary resources to survive on their own. They rely on other countries and vice versa, to help each other in ways they couldn't before. 

There is a lot of criticism going around Korea geared toward President Moon, and how his diplomatic methods are ruining the economy. It just seems that Moon is taking the grunt of the trade war between his nation and Japan, as trading and relations have stopped between them.

As things are right now, it doesn't seem like South Korea and Japan will come to respectful terms. Who knows how long it will be until relations are back to good terms. It's all a matter of whether or not both countries are willing to reconcile and whether or not Japan will finally come out and apologize on behalf of their old Japanese brethern for causing such unfortunate physical, emotional, and mental harm on the people of South Korea.

What are your thoughts on the current relationship status between Japan and South Korea? Let us know in the comments below.

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