Kim Gura, the outspoken comedian known for his sharp tongue, suspended all activities after the recent discovery of his joke made on comfort women 10 years ago.
The controversial comment was made during his webcast show in 2002, when he said, “Some 80 prostitutes are fighting for their rights against the police. They’re sitting on a chartered bus heading to the National Human Rights Commission to file a complaint. This is probably the first time that prostitutes got on a chartered bus since the comfort women (did during World War II). I’m sure the bus driver got an erection, too.”
The audio file of his comment was posted on an online community board recently. Netizens who belatedly discovered Kim Gura’s joke on comfort women, which is one of the most sensitive issues in Korea, quickly created an online petition to kick him out of all TV activities. Public opinion rapidly turned against the comedian and asked for his step down for his thoughtless remarks—which, ironically, is the characteristic that made Kim Gura so popular on the Web, and later, landed him multiple show hosting spots on TV.
As the public dissent continued to grow, Kim Gura quickly held a TV interview – he decided to address the issue through a TV interview, instead of a live press conference – and announced that he would be stepping down from all of his TV shows. “After reading the article this morning, I thought a lot about the issue with my wife and my company’s CEO. I decided it’s just impossible to laugh and continue doing what I’ve been doing under these circumstances. I’m sorry to all the production team members and my show host mates. I’d also like to ask for forgiveness from all the people that might have been hurt by my comments. I’ll put everything down and have a time to reflect on myself,” he said on TV.
“Even if it’s a comment made in the past, it’s just an insensitive, nasty comment. It’s something I couldn’t even accept myself…I thought it would be better to sincerely ask for forgiveness and look back at myself,” he continued. “It’s long overdue but I would like to ask for forgiveness. I’ll reflect on myself for the rest of my life.”
Comfort women, also known as sex slaves by the Japanese military during World War II, were raped and forced to perform sexual favors to Japanese soldiers. These young women, all coming from countries under Japanese Imperial control, were recruited by the Japanese government or military, and suffered serious physical damage for serving in the Japanese military brothels. However, the Japanese government still has not addressed the issue, declining to apologize for the war crimes they committed, and it still remains an unsolved issue between Korean and Japanese governments.