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Cheong Wa Dae vows to deal systematically with Japan's Sado mine heritage push

All News 15:12 February 03, 2022

SEOUL, Feb. 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will deal systematically with Japan's bid to seek UNESCO World Heritage recognition for a former gold mine associated with wartime forced labor, a senior official at Cheong Wa Dae said Thursday.

Japan has pushed ahead with its heritage bid for the controversial mine on Sado Island, where thousands of Koreans were forced into labor during Japan's 1910-45 colonization of the Korean Peninsula, renewing diplomatic tensions between Seoul and Tokyo over wartime forced labor.

"We will respond to (the Japanese move) in a systematic and omnidirectional manner," the official said on the condition of anonymity.

South Korea plans to launch a task force involving officials and experts to respond to Tokyo's move.

"Our government will actively cooperate with the international community," the official said.

The Sado mine originally operated as a gold mine in the 17th century, but it was turned into a facility to produce war-related materials, such as cooper, iron and zinc, during World War II. It was completely shut down in 1989.

According to historical documents, as many as 2,000 Koreans were forced into hard labor at the mine.

Last week, South Korea's Second Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-moon called in Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Koichi Aiboshi and lodged a protest after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced plans to nominate the controversial mine for the 2023 UNESCO heritage list.

An underground shaft of a former gold and silver mine on Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture is seen in this file photo taken Jan. 4, 2021. (Yonhap)

kdh@yna.co.kr
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