A statue of Kim Hwal-lan, a former president of Ewha Womans University, is covered with post-it notes stating demands from students to remove it from the school campus because of her involvement in pro-Japanese activities. / Yonhap
A group of students attending Ewha Womans University are calling for the removal of a statue of Kim Hwal-lan (1899-1970), a former president of the university, from the school campus for her pro-Japanese activities.
More than 300 students covered the 3-meter statue from head to toe with post-it notes Thursday demanding the removal of the statue.
A 24-year-old student, who asked only to be identified by her surname Kim, started the campaign through Ewhaian, an Internet community at the university.
"The statue has been controversial for a long time, and some students have brought up the issue. However, as far as I know, no one brought up the issue openly, which should be addressed," Kim said.
Kim said she wanted to carry out the campaign peacefully rather than waging a violent protest with paint or egg throwing at the statue.
Kim Hwal-lan, also known by her English name of Helen Kim, was a female pioneer who was the first Korean woman to earn a doctorate. She established the national YWCA Korea in 1922, and assumed the presidency of Ewha Woman's College in 1939.
However, she was involved in pro-Japanese activities during the occupation of the country, and changed her name to a Japanese one in 1941. She is known to have encouraged students to support Japan during World War II through her writings and lectures. The statue was erected in the 1970s.
"I'm not proud of her statue at all, considering her pro-Japanese activities. In fact it's shameful to have the statue on our campus. I participated in the event to remove the statue because the school administration should know what we think of the statue," said Chang, a 25-year-old student at the school.