Anti-Japanese activities are active in Korea (and China). I would like to say what I, as a Japanese, think about this.
Is Japan’s colonial policy bad?
It is natural to think that South Korea criticizes Japan because Japan’s colonial policies in the past were terrible.
But here’s the question. Taiwan, which was also a Japanese colony, is now a friendly country of Japan. This was not because Japan in the past preferred Taiwan over Korea.
I think that’s not why South Korea criticizes Japan, but rather because of its twisted pride and rivalry.
Why South Korea criticizes Japan
Japan’s annexation of Korea in 1910 was internationally accepted at that time. In South Korea, it seems to teach the history that independence movement was active in Korea at that time, but it was not so. In World War II, many volunteer soldiers came from Korea.
Japan invaded China in World War II, but it was done with Koreans.
However, when Korea was liberated after the war, Korea changed its recognition of history. By regarding South Korea as a victim forcibly annexed to Japan, they insisted that South Korea was on the side of victorious countries.
I think that the fact that the subsequent military governments continued to teach such history has led to anti-Japanese sentiment among the people today.
Although South Korea is now a democratic country, it is not a society in which people can freely express their opinions. If a Korean does something pro-Japanese, he/she won’t be guaranteed a peaceful life. It will be difficult to change this situation.
Aim of North Korea
The reason why South Korea does not get along with Japan can be North Korea’s maneuvering.
North Korea feels annoyed by the military cooperation among Japan, the United States and South Korea, and is constantly trying to break up the relationship.
Since there are many pro-North Korean spies in South Korea, it is presumed that such people are obstructing reconciliation between Japan and South Korea.
South Korea for the Japanese
There was a time in the 2000s when Korean culture including dramas was favorably accepted in Japan (It is still popular in some generations). Since then, travel to Korea has become popular and more people know about Korea.
However, the closer they came to South Korea, the more they learned about the deep-rooted anti-Japanese sentiment in South Korea, and eventually the Japanese began to distance themselves from South Korea.