Have South Korea and Japan finally mended fences? How does one explain the complex frenemy relationship between Seoul and Tokyo? In a possible case of idiot savant or stroke of genius, President Yoon Seok Yeol ‘finalized’ a plan to compensate victims of Japan’s enslavement of South Koreans during World War II. Critics say he decided all by himself and therefore the deal has little legitimacy. Plus, the funding would rely solely on South Korean companies. Did he just embarrass South Korea or engineer a deal to release embargoed Japanese chemicals for South Korea’s semiconductor industry? Or was this the price he needed to pay to save the nation’s chip industry from going under?
Japan has long claimed it settled all of its colonial and wartime sins with one $500 million payment back in 1965. But none of the money went to actual victims and more atrocities surfaced after the deal was made. However, is it time for South Koreans to stop expecting an apology that will never come? Perhaps a path of peace or a path of revenge would be more empowering. Either would put the power back into the hands of the traumatized. Watch this video to figure out how to explain to your friends whether Koreans and Japanese are besties or frenemies!