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Korean Embassy gets threats via mail in Japan

Sept 06,2019
The Korean Embassy in Japan received threatening mail that contained a bullet and a letter that demanded Koreans leave Japan, the Asahi Shimbun reported Tuesday.

“It appears the package was sent to threaten Koreans, but the letter did not mention anything about the forced laborers or the ‘comfort women’ issue,” Asahi reported. “It is unclear if the mail has anything to do with the latest Japan-Korea relations.”

Comfort women is a euphemism used by Japan to refer to tens of thousands of Asian women systematically forced to serve as sex slaves in the Japanese military’s frontline brothels during World War II.

“The letter was addressed to Lee Su-hoon, former ambassador of Korea to Japan. The sender was unidentified,” the Asahi said.

The embassy reported the incident to the Japanese police. Although it has received threatening mail before, this is reportedly the first time the embassy received mail that included a bullet.

Lee was the Korean ambassador to Japan from October 2017 to April this year, before being replaced by Nam Gwan-pyo, who began his tenure as the ambassador of Korea to Japan from May 9.

Lee was in office when the Korean Supreme Court ruled in October last year that Japanese companies should compensate Korean victims of forced labor during Japan’s colonization of Korea.

Japan annexed Korea from 1910 to 1945, during which at least 148,961 people were forced into labor in Japan, according to Korea’s prime minister’s office. The office projected that around 5,000 of the victims were still alive as of last year.

Lee was summoned by Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono following the top court’s ruling.

Korea-Japan relations have been deteriorating over historical and trade issues.

Japan levied trade restrictions on Korea in July, a move seen by many in Korea as a retaliatory measure for the Supreme Court’s decision last year that acknowledged the illegality of Japan’s colonial rule over Korea and recognized that the victims’ rights to individual compensation have not expired. Tokyo maintains that a 1965 treaty that normalized bilateral relations with Seoul settled all compensation matters.

Last month, Japan removed Korea from its list of trusted trading partners, to which Korea responded by pulling out of the military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, which was first established in 2016 and had been renewed every year.

BY SEO SEUNG-WOOK, ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]