June 4 (UPI) -- Tensions are rising between protesters at a weekly rally outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, according to a local press report.
South Korean news service Money Today reported Thursday the demonstrations of the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery are increasingly the target of counter-protesters, following misappropriation allegations against the council's founder and new lawmaker Yoon Mi-hyang.
Lee Yong-soo, the former "comfort woman" who had said she and other victims of Japanese wartime brothels were used as a front for Yoon's donation drives, had pleaded to demonstrators to not turn the comfort women rallies into a political battleground, according to Money Today.
The call was ignored on Wednesday, when conservative South Korean activists, who have accused Yoon of embezzlement, reportedly clashed physically with Yoon's supporters.
Yoon's supporters used vuvuzelas, or horns used at soccer matches, to block out the messages from the conservative activists who were rallying a few feet away. The instruments were used to deter opponents despite pleas from a Korean Council representative to "not use vuvuzelas to attack conservative groups."
Koo Jeong-woo, a sociologist at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, said conservatives have a right to express their opinion; South Korean conservative causes have taken a back seat since the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye.
There is also no need to insist on protesting before the comfort woman statue, Koo said, according to Money Today.
The issue of Japanese government compensation has divided Seoul and Tokyo, following the termination of a 2015 foundation for past victims.
On Wednesday Tokyo voiced opposition against any South Korean movements toward liquidating Korea-based Japanese corporate assets for the compensation of Korean wartime laborers, warning Seoul of "serious consequences."
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Thursday a "cautious response" is needed from the South's side, during a phone call with his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha, Jiji Press reported.