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Uniqlo TV Ad Withdrawn in S. Korea after Comfort Women-Linked Protests

October 22, 2019

Seoul- A recently released television commercial of Japanese fashion chain Fast Retailing Co.'s Uniqlo casual wear brand has been withdrawn in South Korea following a flurry of complaints claiming that it defamed so-called comfort women.

While denying any intent to ridicule such women, the Uniqlo side decided to stop the ad, saying that it "made many people feel unpleasant."

In the ad, a 13-year-old girl asks a 98-year-old woman in English, "How did you used to dress when you were my age?" The woman answers, also in English, "Oh my God, I can't remember that far back."

But in the Korean subtitle, the elderly woman's line is translated as "Do you expect me to remember things over 80 years ago?"

The translation sparked suspicion among South Korean people that the phrase was intentionally changed to insult Korean comfort women, or those forced to provide sex for Japanese troops before and during World War II.

"The ad had nothing to do with any political or religious matters, beliefs or groups," the Uniqlo side said.

Meanwhile, Park Young-sun, South Korea's minister of small and midsize enterprises and startups, expressed anger over the ad at a meeting of the South Korean National Assembly on Monday. Park said that Seoul will consider measures in response to the ad.

Amid deterioration in bilateral ties, a campaign to boycott Japanese products is ongoing in South Korea, and people in the country tend to react sensitively to moves and developments in Japan linked to issues between the two nations. Jiji Press