I'll let you all make up your own minds about the article and the rally. While just about everyone is sympathetic to the efforts of the "comfort women," based on the video and the article it's a distortion to write that riot police were strong-arming anyone. I get the ironic angle played up by the author and by some of those quoted in the paper---the supposed irony of Korean police trying to shut down a protest against the Japanese government and its past transgressions against Korea, a cause you'd think most Koreans would support. However, it's not unusual to have police show up at a demonstration, especially in front of a foreign embassy, and given Korea's recent history of violent suppressions of democracy, I'd say in this case "strong-arm" is a charged word to throw around. And, unfortunately the article gives another blow against the gravity of the situation:
Making the matter more complicated is that in 1965, when relations between Japan and South Korea were normalized, South Korea forfeited the right for its citizens to file individual claims to the Japanese government in exchange for a lump-sum payment. The Korean government was supposed to individually compensate those conscripted into the Japanese workforce or military, but instead used most of the money for its economic development. The argument today is that Japan took advantage of a weak, young South Korea in order to negotiate an unfair agreement. While survivors of the Occupation have every reason to be angry with Japan, if they're looking for money and apologies, perhaps they're protesting in front of the wrong government building.
Say what you will about the appropriateness of English teachers getting involved in domestic issues, but what is telling is that it's foreigners making noise about the comfort women. Not only foreigners, of course, but it was just a few weeks ago that former "independence fighters" protested a decision to create a museum to former sex slaves in Seoul's Independence Park.
Earlier this month, former independence fighters and their descendants held a press conference to harshly denounce plans to erect a museum for the comfort women in Independence Park in Seodaemun District, northern Seoul.
The press conference was organized by the Korea Liberation Association.
“The proposed museum denigrates the independence movement and the men who gave their lives as patriotic martyrs for the liberation of Korea,” said Kim Yeong-il, the association’s president, at the Nov. 3 press conference.
“The museum will surely create a false image about our history by highlighting our suffering rather than our many military achievements,” Kim added.
Go read Gusts of Popular Feeling's take on the Korea Liberation Association's stance, especially since the park, and the notorious Seodaemun Prison, seems to thrive on celebrating suffering. More pronounced, I suppose, since Korea was liberated, and did not liberate itself, in spite of the efforts by the independence fighters making so much noise now.
As an aside, the "House of Sharing," the residence of the surviving comfort women, is located in Gwangju, the Gwangju in Gyeonggi-do not Jeollanam-do. On the site is also the "The Museum of Sexual Slavery by Japanese Military," open 10 to 5 every day but Monday.