Hanyang University students hold a press conference criticizing academics for distorting historical facts regarding Japan's wartime sexual slavery of women. (Photo:TBS)
Students at Hanyang University in Seoul have called out one of their own teachers for making continuous controversial claims against victims of Japan's wartime sexual slavery.
They held a press conference Wednesday condemning associate professor Joseph E. Yi, who has argued that the testimonies of victims, euphemistically called "comfort women," are not credible.
He has also claimed that the Japanese government is not solely responsible for the comfort women issue.
Yi and Joe Phillips, an assistant professor at Yonsei University, recently co-authored an opinion piece titled "On 'Comfort Women' and Academic Freedom," that ran in The Diplomat.
In it, they called for "debating not censuring" Harvard Professor Mark Ramseyer's recent article, "Contracting for Sex in the Pacific War," which claims Korean comfort women "chose prostitution."
They said "attacking Ramseyer's academic integrity because of personal connections to Japan is unproductive and sounds xenophobic," and that "Koreans, including students, lack awareness of arguments and data challenging the dominate narrative."
Hangyang student council president Jeong Hyeon-jeong criticized Yi and the school's lukewarm response to the controversy.
"Professor Yi is using his authority to teach distorted history to students. We are seeing local and international outrage over Harvard Law school professor Ramseyer's controversial claim about 'comfort women' and we want our voice to be heard this time."
More than 1,500 students have signed a petition demanding the university fire Yi over his "distorted perspective of history."
Hanyang University said it takes such issues very seriously and is currently reviewing the matter.
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