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Japan-South Korea rift

What makes or breaks Seoul's gambit on wartime labor issue

Public sentiment toward Japan brightens in South Korea; will it last?

South Korean civic groups rally against the government's proposal to compensate former wartime laborers at the National Assembly in Seoul on March 7.    © AP

TOKYO -- South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol this week made a historic visit to Japan, taking major steps toward normalizing relations with his neighbor, including resuming shuttle diplomacy to settle trade disputes and other issues.

Before his trip to Tokyo, Yoon took the initiative in ending a long-festering row between the two countries by unveiling a plan to compensate victims of wartime labor. But Yoon apparently did not have the full support of his aides in making the decision. Some are said to have voiced concern that the proposal was politically risky, but Yoon stood firm. "Yoon must have thought, 'Let's get it done before the momentum is lost,'" said one pundit.

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