S. Korean dies nine days af­ter self-im­mo­la­tion Ja­pan protest

The China Post - - LIFE -

An el­derly South Korean man died from his in­juries Fri­day, nine days af­ter set­ting him­self on fire to protest Ja­pan’s forced re­cruit­ment of sex slaves for mil­i­tary broth­els dur­ing World War II.

Doc­tors treat­ing Choi Hyun-yul, 81, said his con­di­tion had de­te­ri­o­rated rapidly due to blood poi­son­ing.

Choi set him­self alight dur­ing a rally by some 1,000 pro­tes­tors out­side the Ja­panese em­bassy in Seoul on Aug. 12, ahead of the 70th an­niver­sary of the end of Ja­pan’s 1910-45 colo­nial rule over the Korean penin­sula.

Choi had been a reg­u­lar at the monthly protests out­side the em­bassy to de­mand repa­ra­tions for so-called “com­fort women” — an ex­tremely emo­tive is­sue in South Korea where fewer than 50 of the thou­sands of women co­erced into pros­ti­tu­tion re­main alive.

Ja­pan says the is­sue was set­tled in the 1965 bi­lat­eral agree­ment that re­stored diplo­matic ties be­tween the two na­tions, which saw Tokyo make a to­tal pay­ment of US$800 mil­lion in grants or loans to its for­mer colony.

Self-im­mo­la­tion is not that rare a form of protest in South Korea and was par­tic­u­larly com­mon dur­ing the pro-democ­racy move­ment of the 1980s and early 90s, when a num­ber of stu­dent ac­tivists set them­selves on fire dur­ing public demon­stra­tions. The last such protest out­side the Ja­panese em­bassy was in 2005, when a 54-year-old man set him­self on fire dur­ing a protest over Ja­pan’s claim to a set of South Kore­an­con­trolled islets in the East Sea (Sea of Ja­pan).

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