News Column

Seoul hotel rejects Japan embassy party, museum cancels cartoon exhibit

July 10, 2014

The Lotte Hotel, one of the largest luxury hotels in Seoul, has decided against hosting a regularly held reception organized by the Japanese Embassy to commemorate the establishment of Japan's defense forces, because of anticipated demonstrations against it, a hotel source said Thursday night.

Meanwhile, the War Memorial of Korea has canceled an exhibition of the popular Japanese cartoon "One Piece," which had been scheduled to start Saturday, citing a drawing similar to the Rising Sun flag -- considered as a symbol of Japan's aggression in South Korea -- appearing in the original comic series.

The Seoul hotel has notified the Japanese Embassy of the decision for the Japanese Self-Defense Forces event that had been scheduled Friday evening. The embassy has since decided to hold the event at the ambassador's residence.

A Japanese government source said, "It's regrettable that the Lotte, which has been a familiar venue for us, has decided to take such action."

With the history issue that has long been simmering and Japan's recent move to change its defense policy to play a greater security role in the background, criticism against Japan has been growing from the South Korean government and media.

The Dong-a Ilbo newspaper carried a report blasting the hotel's reception plan in its Thursday edition. The hotel said it has been bombarded with calls of protests and threats. The hotel has been almost annually hosting the same reception in recent years.

The SDF commemorates its founding on July 1. This year marks its 60th anniversary. Japanese diplomatic missions around the world hold similar events around this date.

With Japan-South Korean relations at a low point, the Japanese Embassy in Seoul had scaled down the event for this year, still inviting several hundred people including diplomats from South Korea and other countries stationed in the country.

The embassy frequently uses the Lottle Hotel, located in Myeongdong, a central shopping district popular with tourists. The hotel is also a familiar name with Japanese travelers.

The War Memorial, run by the South Korean government, decided to cancel a contract on leasing out an exhibition room with the event company planning to stage the "One Piece" show of character figures from the adventure cartoon series. The show itself did not have a plan for displaying anything resembling the flag, according to organizers.

The museum said that "it could invite unnecessary disturbances" given the many complaints it received against the planned exhibit.

South Korean media reports said the event company has objected to the decision to cancel the vent.

The Rising Sun flag was adopted by the Imperial Japanese Army and is currently used by the Ground Self-Defense Force. South Koreans are showing increasing aversion to the flag with lawmakers having presented legislation in national parliament to penalize the use of the flag in public places.

The memorial was set up to honor those who died in the Korean War and to educate people about the importance of defending the country. On its website, the memorial said confusion associated with the event is inappropriate for the hall of national defense.

For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel

Source: Japan Economic Newswire

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