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[Newsmaker] Police to probe professor over wartime sex slavery remarks

Police said Sunday that they are investigating a professor who called Japan’s World War II sexual enslavement of girls and women “a form of prostitution.”

Police have interviewed civic groups who lodged a defamation complaint against Lew Seok-choon, a sociology professor at Yonsei University, for his remarks regarding “comfort women,” as the wartime sex slaves are euphemistically called.

Yonsei University professor Lew Seok-choon (Yonhap)
Yonsei University professor Lew Seok-choon (Yonhap)

On Sept. 19, Lew said during a lecture that the Japanese military was “not the direct perpetrator (of sex slavery)” and that the “comfort women” were in fact “sort of prostitutes.”

When a student asked if “'comfort women' weren’t coerced into sex slavery,” Lew replied most prostitutes go into the business half-willingly even today.

Lew also claimed a victims support organization was brainwashing the women into believing they were victimized during the war.

The Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan filed a lawsuit against him for defaming the victims and conveying false information.

Police said they plan to summon Lew for questioning next month.

In response to a public fury over his statement, Lew said what he meant in the lecture was that “poverty lures some people into prostitution” and that his intentions were “purely academic.”

Yonsei University has suspended Lew from teaching the course, replacing him with a substitute.

By Kim Arin (