June 02, 2023

Why is North Korea so quiet on the comfort women issue?

Pyongyang has its own skeletons in its closet when it comes to abductions

With all the commotion and discussion about the comfort women issue that culminated in a last-minute 2015 deal between Seoul and Tokyo to put the issue behind them, few noticed that conspicuous in its absence was Pyongyang. There is a reason for that, but before explaining the North’s reticence, it is useful to understand the magnitude of what Kim Jong Un is declining to openly talk about.

By now, most people are at least casually aware that during World War II, the Imperial Japanese forced perhaps as many as 200,000 girls and young women into being sex slaves for Japanese soldiers. The overwhelming majority of those sex slaves were Korean, which of course refers to the number from the entire Korean Peninsula. But how many were from what is now North Korea?