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South Korean scholar acquitted of defaming sexual slavery victims throughout Japan colonial rule

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s prime court docket on Thursday cleared a scholar of prices of defaming the Korean victims of sexual slavery throughout Japanese colonial rule, in a contentious e-book printed in 2013.

Thursday’s ruling within the legal case of Park Yu-ha isn’t the tip of her long-running authorized battle, as she faces a separate civil go well with. She’s suffered harsh public criticism over her e-book “Consolation Girls of the Empire,” triggering debates over the scope of freedom of speech in South Korea.

In 2017, the Seoul Excessive Court docket fined Park, an emeritus professor at Seoul’s Sejong College, 10 million received ($7,360) over a few of the expressions she utilized in her e-book to explain Korean girls who have been pressured to function intercourse slaves for Japan’s troops through the first half of the twentieth century.

However the Supreme Court docket dominated Thursday it was troublesome to find out these expressions constituted legal defamation, saying it was extra acceptable to evaluate them as Park’s educational arguments or expression of her private opinions.

The court docket mentioned that “restrictions on the liberty of educational expressions should be minimal.” It nonetheless mentioned that when students publicize their research, they have to try to guard others’ privateness and dignity and to respect their freedom and rights to self-determination.

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Prosecutors and Park’s critics earlier accused her of defaming ex-sex slaves by writing that they have been pleased with their jobs and had comrade-like relationships with Japanese troopers whereas the Japanese navy wasn’t formally concerned within the forceful mobilization of intercourse slaves.

The Supreme Court docket mentioned it despatched Park’s case again to the Seoul Excessive Court docket to make a brand new ruling on her. The process implies that Park will likely be declared not responsible on the excessive court docket except new proof in opposition to her come out, in keeping with Supreme Court docket officers.

Park welcomed the ruling. “I believe right this moment’s verdict is a ruling that determines whether or not the liberty of thought exists in Republic of Korea,” she wrote on Facebook.

In a separate civil go well with, a Seoul district court docket in 2016 ordered Park to pay 10 million received ($7,360) every to 9 of the ex-Korean intercourse slaves who sued her. An appellate trial on that case continues to be beneath means, in keeping with media experiences.

Sexual slavery is a extremely emotional challenge in South Korea, the place many nonetheless harbor sturdy resentment in opposition to the 1910-45 Japanese colonial occupation.

Historians say tens of hundreds of girls from round Asia, a lot of them Korean, have been despatched to front-line navy brothels to offer intercourse to Japanese troopers. The time period “consolation girls,” which was used within the title of Park’s e-book, is an euphemism for the intercourse slaves.

Japan issued an apolog y in 1993 after a authorities investigation concluded many ladies have been taken in opposition to their will and “lived in distress beneath a coercive ambiance.” Nonetheless, there was a powerful backlash from South Korea and elsewhere to feedback by Japanese politicians who discuss a scarcity of documentary proof the ladies have been forcibly recruited, in an obvious try to gloss over Tokyo’s wartime atrocities.

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