SEOUL--Overturning a lower court decision, a high court here has found the author of “Comfort Women of the Empire” guilty of defaming the victims in her 2013 book, although she did not identify them.

In the Seoul High Court decision on Oct. 27, Park Yu-ha, professor of Japanese literature at Sejong University, was fined 10 million won (about 1 million yen, or $8,800).

“(Park) dishonored the comfort women who were sexually abused by Japan by citing false information,” the court said.

But it decided against handing down a criminal penalty, saying academic freedom and freedom of expression should be protected.

Park indicated that she will appeal the ruling to the top court.

Comfort women is a euphemism used to refer to those who were forced to provide sex to Japanese troops before and during World War II. Many of the victims were from the Korean Peninsula, which was under Japanese colonial rule from 1910 to 1945.

The recent decision followed Park's acquittal by the Seoul Eastern District Court in January.

She disputed the high court ruling, saying judges did not spend sufficient time hearing the case, compared with the lower court.

“The trial was unjust, and the ruling is based on preconceived opinions,” Park said.

The high court decision appeared to reflect growing calls for a hard-line approach toward Japan over the comfort women issue since Moon Jae-in assumed power as the country’s president in May.

Moon, a lawyer who has been known for his commitment to human rights issues, has ordered the re-evaluation of the landmark agreement reached between Tokyo and Seoul in 2015 to resolve the long-standing issue.

Since the Moon administration was formed, a trend has been growing toward respecting the intentions of former comfort women critical of Park and their support groups, as was demonstrated in repeated meetings between the victims and Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, who was appointed by Moon.

The president has also named a number of people who were former members of a group of reform-minded legal experts to senior positions of the prosecution and the Ministry of Justice.

But some legal experts expressed concerns about the judiciary’s seeming tendency to be swayed by public opinion in recent years.

“Judiciary decisions have been influenced by a change in policy following regime change,” a legal scholar said.