Conflict between Korean orgs stalls Fort Lee comfort women memorial

July 8, 2015
Glendale's comfort woman statue (Yonhap)

Glendale’s comfort woman statue (Yonhap)

By The Korea Times New York staff

The proposed comfort women memorial in Fort Lee, N.J., is in trouble, and this time, it doesn’t so much involve indignant Japanese organizations as it does conflict between two local Korean American associations.

The project, first started three years ago, has the approval of the city of Fort Lee for installation this year and a ready-made memorial in storage owned by Bergen County’s Korean American association.

The problem? Fort Lee’s Korean American counterpart’s not happy with the existing memorial and has refused to accept it.

Kim Jin-sook, head of the Bergen association, offered the memorial to the Fort Lee association as a donation earlier this year. The memorial was made by Kim and Han Chang-yeon, the former president of the Korean American Association of Greater New York.

The Korean American Association of Fort Lee told the Korea Times that it is not satisfied with the appearance and direction of the offered memorial.

“We agree with them that a comfort woman memorial should be erected, but it cannot be the [offered] one,” it said.

Kim Jin-sook, head of the Bergen association, said there are presently no other timely and cost-effective options.

Three years ago, the Fort Lee association faced controversy when it proposed the installation of a replica to the statue that sits in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, the statue that has since been erected in Glendale, Calif., and Union City, Michigan — a young woman dressed in hanbok, sitting next to an empty chair.

The Fort Lee City Council expressed concerns about the statue on the grounds that it might be too provocative toward Japan.

Earlier this year, the Fort Lee association announced it would begin constructing a new memorial, but was criticized for wasting money and time.

“If they can install it right away, and it’s ready to go, then I don’t understand why they’re opposing the memorial,” one source said. “It’s not important who made it. There’s meaning in it being put up, no matter who does it.”

“We’re currently looking into having the memorial installed in another area,” Kim said Monday. “It makes me pained to know that a memorial with the goal of providing reassurance to comfort women and of confronting Japan’s wrongs has become so neglected.”


  1. Moguro Fukuz

    June 17, 2016 at 7:40 PM

    Koreans are pathological liars. They tell lies 24/7/365.
    False Accusations of Comfort Women

  2. Moguro Fukuz

    July 2, 2016 at 2:10 PM

    You Koreans picked a fight with us Japanese. Now you should be ready for the consequences.