Dankook and Chung-Ang Pyeongwha Nabi, a network of university student clubs working towards solutions for “Comfort Women” issues, are experiencing hardships as universities are turning down their requests to become official school clubs.
Pyeonghwa Nabi, which was established in 2014, has run various campaigns, including fundraising for victims of Japanese military sexual slavery and proposing the construction of comfort women statues. Although it first started as a support group for the Pyeonghwa Nabi concert which was held to raise funds for the victims, about 400 university students nationwide participate in the form of university clubs today.
Pyeonghwa Nabi clubs at Korea University, Ewha Womans University, Jeju National University, and more have already been registered as official clubs of each university. However, some are still unable to get the permission they need to become official clubs because the school has judged that these clubs could be seen “political.”
“The fight to protect the rights of ‘comfort women’ is about prioritizing human rights, peace, women’s rights, pacifism, and equality. Schools should not consider this to be a political issue,” said Kim Soo-hyun, the representative of Dankook Nabi, at the press conference on June 20.
Chung-Ang Nabi’s registration was denied by the Club Representative Council during the qualifying period for official club registrations. Since March, ChungAng Nabi had thoroughly prepared and made the proposal, but the request was repeatedly denied. Last semester, the club posted a handwritten poster on campus and held a press conference as a sign of protest. Their requests were denied, as the school replied that the approval of Chung-Ang Nabi could misrepresent the school’s image with a certain political inclination.
“All of the members of the club were confused when we got the results, and we all thought that the Club Representative Council was the one to blame,” said Han Dayeon, the representative of ChungAng Nabi. “When we asked others, like our friends, they reacted the same way.”
Unlike the case in Chuna-Ang Nabi, Dankook Nabi passed the qualifying period by the Club Representative Council but could not pass the final approval by the school. The reason they were rejected was the same as ChungAng University – the purpose of the club does not fit the school’s regulations on political neutrality. Ewha Nabi, Pyeonghwa Nabi’s branch in Ewha Womans University, was elevated to the status of being an official club on Mar. 25. After nine months of approval stages, from the qualification period to final permission, they became an official club. Now, Ewha Nabi is able to get funds from the school and the opportunity to have their own club room.
“Above all, becomming an official club means representing the school, so we reckoned that getting the permission is important to let people know about our activities and do a broader range of activities,” stated Seong-min, president of Ewha Nabi.
Unlike other schools, Ewha Nabi did not faced hardships on being an official club of the school. However, they expressed disappointment on the schools who did not gave permission to the branches.
“The two cases, Chung-Ang and Dankook, are both cases that repressed and censored student activities,” Ewha Nabi told Ewha Voice. “We aim for universal human rights, not ‘nationalism’ that the Chung-Ang Club Representative Council pointed out.”
Furthermore, they stated that by the nationwide alliance, it could resolve the problems of Japanese military sexual slavery more promptly by simultaneously supporting for the victims on a national level.
“By becoming an official club of the school, it could maximize this kind of influence,” Ewha nabi stated.