A South Korean man set himself on fire in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul in an apparent protest on Friday.
An official at Seoul’s Jongno Fire Station said the 78 year-old man, surnamed Kim, drove up to the building around 3:20 a.m., he stopped in front of the gate and set himself on fire while sitting in his car.
According to a statement from the local Jongno Fire Station, “it is presumed that the man, using 20 liters of gasoline and butane gas in the car, tried to set himself on fire.”
After suffering extensive second-degree burns to his chest, arm and face, he died later from his injuries.
The man’s father-in-law was said to be a victim of forced labor by Japanese firms during World War Two and he may have acted in protest against Japan’s export curbs.
Police and fire officials both declined to comment on the man’s possible motivations, citing ongoing investigations.
The self-immolation comes as the bond between Seoul and Tokyo have plunged to their lowest point in decades since Japan recently tightened export controls of some high-tech materials.
Due to Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, South Korea and Japan, both key US allies, have been in disagreement.
For decades, largely peaceful anti-Japan protests have occurred near the Japanese Embassy. Protests sometimes turned violent, with demonstrators cutting their own fingers or fighting with police officers.
In 2017, a South Korean Buddhist monk died after setting himself ablaze in protest of Seoul’s 2015 agreement with Tokyo to settle an impasse over Korean women forced into sex slavery for Japanese soldiers during the colonial occupation.