A 64-year-old Buddhist monk is in intensive care after setting himself alight to protest against South Korea's settlement with Japan to compensate women who were forced into sex slavery during the Second World War.
The unnamed monk suffered third-degree burns, and serious damage to vital organs including heart, kidneys and liver. He is unable to breathe on his own and remains unconscious, according to an official from Seoul National University Hospital.
He set fire to himself on Saturday (8 January) during a rally in Seoul calling for the dismissal of impeached President Park Geun-hye, police said.
Police found a hand-written memo at the scene, in which the monk claimed President Park should be punished for causing a "rebellion".
He also demanded the Seoul-Tokyo agreement signed in 2015 to hammer out a deal on the "comfort women" issue to be invalidated.
"Please don't make my death worthless," the note said according to the Korean Times.
He called Park a "traitor" over her 2015 agreement with Japan over South Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery by Japan's military during the Second World War, according to police.
Japan agreed to set up a fund for a Seoul-based foundation to help support the victims. In exchange, South Korea agreed to stop criticising Japan over the controversial issue. Recently, the Japanese government expressed displeasure about a bronze statue placed in front of their embassy representing wartime sex slaves.
The agreement was reached without approval from victims and there have been protests by students next to the Seoul statue for over a year, condemning the ongoing dispute.
"It has been mutually confirmed that this is a final and irreversible agreement. Japan has sincerely fulfilled its obligation," Japanese Prime Minister Abe said on a NHK news talk show. He stated that Japan had already paid ¥1bn (£6.95m, $8.5 million) in compensation, according to abc news.
"Next, I think South Korea must firmly show its sincerity," he said, adding that the agreement should be implemented regardless of leadership change as a "matter of credibility".
At the time of the agreement, there were 46 South Korean women living, who were forced to be Japanese sex slaves.