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“Comfort Woman”-Themed Nude Pictures of Actress Stirs Controversy

“Comfort Woman”-Themed Nude Pictures of Actress Stirs Controversy

Posted February. 13, 2004 22:41,   


A collection of nude video and pictures of soap opera actress Lee Seung-yeon, 36-years-old, has stirred huge controversy as they were themed around “comfort women,” young sex slaves who were hoaxed or abducted from Japanese colonies and forced to serve Japanese soldiers in the battlefields during World War II. It triggered a barrage of protests and opposition. Some people went so far as to urge the former Miss Korea to retire as an entertainer.

On February 13, Hwang Geum-joo, a 76-year-old former military prostitute, jointly with the Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery, an advocacy group, and the Women’s Rights Association, filed with the Seoul local court for an injunction against the online release of the comfort women nude picture and video.

Many netizens began to launch anti-Lee sites and urge her to retire from public life. Shares of Lototo, the producer of the video and Syswill, the distributor, plunged on the KOSDAQ

A bombardment of postings criticizing Lee hit the message boards comfort women’s advocacy group. Lee Yong-soo said in a posting, “Who would believe her talking about history when Lee has never attended regular Wednesday protest rallies by comfort women victims?” Joo Mon-gyu said in another posting, “Lee and her business partners, who have commercialized the tragedy of history, should be expelled from society.”

Postings urging the cancellation of Lee’s appearance in “101 Percent for Sunday,” filled the message board of the Korea Broadcasting System (KBS) Website as she was reportedly scheduled to appear on the weekend talk show of KBS 2.

The producer of her nude pictures said it would complete the rest of shootings in Japan and Nepal and release video via the Internet and mobile handset services and pictures in book form starting March 1 to mark the anniversary of mass resistance against Japanese colonial rule in 1919.

“Comfort women victims filed for an injunction because they probably did not understand the goals of the project completely,” Park Ji-woo, a board member of Netian Entertainment Co. and a co-producer, said. “Lee and I will visit them, asking for their understanding.”

On the KOSDAQ, Lototo went up 3.7 percent compared to the day before at open in early trading on February 13, but it began to fall within 10 minutes after the opening and closed down 3.13 percent. Syswill, which fell by 0.55 percent the day before, edged down 5.7 percent.

Jin-Yeong Lee ecolee@donga.com