Downtown buses in Seoul will carry teenage girl statues symbolizing former sex slaves for Japanese soldiers during World War II to mark the 72nd anniversary of National Liberation Day on Aug. 15, art activists said Thursday.
Starting from next week till the end of September, five buses will have seats that feature a light-weight copy of the 1.5 meter-tall bronze statue of a barefoot girl seated on a chair, created and erected in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul in 2011 by artists Kim Woon-sung and Kim Seo-kyung.
It is part of a campaign to remember the victims of sexual trafficking by theJapanese military from 1939 to 1945, many of whom have died.
“The victims were forcibly taken out of the country during the Japanese colonial era and into isolation and sex slavery (at the frontline brothels). We hope the bus campaign can console and free their souls,” artist Kim Woon-sung who is organising the event told The Korea Herald.
After the bus event, the statues will be moved to five different locations nationwide where they will be displayed for the Chuseok holiday in October, or Korean Thanksgiving.
Around 200,000 women are said to have been forced by the Japanese authorities to work as wartime sex slaves. Most of them were Korean, while others were from China, Taiwan, the Philippines and Indonesia. The issue is a long-standing thorn in Japan’s diplomatic ties with the victims’ countries.
South Korea and Japan signed a settlement deal in 2015, describing it as “final and irreversible,” but the new Moon Jae-in administration is seeking to scrap the agreement, calling it “unacceptable to the public sentiment.”
Artists and activists have been installing around the world dozens of the Peace Statues to honour the victims.
As of January, there are approximately 55 such statues nationwide, and others in the US, Canada, Australia and China.
Seoul City officials said the city is currently reviewing necessary procedures regarding the installation of the artworks on buses to support the event.