Pain does not solely belong to those directly undergoing the pain. People can sympathize with others’ pain as their own, but that does not necessarily mean that it becomes theirs. Pain carries a sense of ownership. This is why we have to be humble in the face of others’ pain.
The problem with American professor Mark Ramseyer who wrote a paper titled “Contracting for Sex in the Pacific War” in 2020 is that he lacks humility for others’ pain, as well as the capacity of sympathy. He generalized Koreans forced to serve as ‘comfort women’ as prostitutes, putting people experiencing pain into even deeper pain.
He bears resemblance to Japanese colonial historians who distorted the history of Korea as they wished during the Japanese colonial era. Korean historian Chong In-bo’s book “Jungmooron” frankly depicts the behaviors of the colonial historians. They concluded that the northern Korean Peninsula was under the colonial rule of China based on the artifacts excavated near Pyongyang. However, according to Chong, the artifacts were manipulated. The Japanese historians did not hesitate to “hide, fix, move, and change things” in order to achieve what they want. They made a conclusion before facts. Why? It was to divide the history of Koreans and justify Japan’s colonial rule by claiming that the northern Korean Peninsula was colonized by China and the southern region by Japan. Chong’s book was “words to correct preposterous lies.”
Ramseyer is similar to the colonial historians who did not care about morality. Both parties also only referred to texts fitting with their perspective, set a conclusion, and developed logic accordingly. The irony is that he is not a Japanese but an American who earned a medal from the Japanese government. Perhaps the biggest problem he faces is his loss of modesty and respect for the pain of victims during the course of defending Japan’s morally corrupt colonial rule. Nobody has the right to be arrogant in front of others’ pain.