After Japan beat South Korea in the final of the 2023 Asian Football Confederation U-17 Asian Cup on Sunday, the AFC’s official Instagram account was bombarded with derogatory comments from trolls targeting Korean victims of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery.
Team Korea, led by head coach Byun Sung-hwan, suffered a 3-0 defeat during Sunday’s final match at Pathum Thani Stadium in Thailand.
After one post showing a video clip of Japan’s striker, Gaku Nawata, scoring a goal during the game, some users wrote hate comments like “Japan loves Korean virgin” and “Japan made Korea pregnant again” seeming to refer offensively to Korean wartime sexual slavery victims.
In response to the malicious comments, Seo Kyoung-duk, a professor of general education at Sungshin Women’s University in Seoul well known for campaigning to correct information about Korean culture and history overseas, lodged a complaint with the AFC to urge it to take appropriate action.
“While it is uncertain whether the hate comments against Korean victims of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery were made by right-wing Japanese people or not, making fun of a historical tragedy during a sacred sports event is absolutely unacceptable,” Seo said in a Facebook post.
“The AFC should immediately remove the comments and, if necessary, block the accounts of those ignorant football fans," he said.
Historians estimate that up to 200,000 women, mostly from Korea, were mobilized to work in frontline brothels for Japanese soldiers during World War II. Korea was a colony of Japan at that time.
Out of a total 240 women registered as Korean victims, only nine are still alive.