SEOUL - A protester aged in his 80s set himself on fire Wednesday during a rally calling for Japan to apologize for forcing Korean women to work in military brothels during World War Two.
The self-immolation came during a weekly protest outside the Japanese Embassy and also ahead of an Aug. 15 anniversary marking 70 years since the end of Japan's colonial occupation of the Korean peninsula.
Wednesday's protest was larger than normal, with about 2,000 demonstrators, including three of the 47 known surviving Korean "comfort women," as they were euphemistically called by Japan, organizers said.
Bystanders covered the man with protest banners to put out the flames and paramedics took him to hospital. There were no reports on his condition.
"It appears he tried to kill himself by setting himself on fire, given a drink bottle that he had smells of gasoline," a firefighter said.
In South Korea, Japan's 1910-1945 colonization of the Korean peninsula remains a sensitive subject.
South Korea's ties with Japan have long been strained by what Seoul sees as Japan’s reluctance to atone for the country's wartime past, including a full recognition of its role in forcing Korean girls and women to work in brothels.