Comfort Women

A girl’s dream
It was the time when Koreans were suffering from colonial exploitation and oppression.

Japanese Occupation Period (Aug. 29. 1910 ~ Aug. 15. 1945)
Her dream was to meet a caring man and have an ordinary marriage.  
She dreamed of making a happy family with adorable children.
She used to draw on the ground with her fingers, dreaming of becoming an artist someday.
She was just an ordinary girl with ordinary dreams.

She was only 12.
“I was told that I could make money and go to school, if I go work at a silk factory in Japan. So, I took the chance.”

However, where she arrived wasn’t Japan. It was Harbin, China.
“Prevent the rape of local women and STDs, and boost military morale!”

All of the sudden, she was given the title, “comfort woman”.
『Military Sexual Slavery by Japan』
Her job was to serve as a military sex slave for the imperial Japanese Army.

『Military Sexual Slavery by Japan』
System of forced military prostitution by the Japanese government
The victims were brought to military camps by Japanese soldiers, with no idea where they were going or what they were going to do.

An estimated 200,000 Asian women fell into this vicious trap.
The largest human trafficking case of such unprecedented scale in the 20th century
A tiny dark room with a blanket and wooden plank walls
All the dreams of the young girls were suddenly lost in a 35-square-foot space.

“We got there in a truck, escorted by military officers.
Over 100 soldiers were lined up in front of each door. 

“When a soldier came into my room, I screamed in fear and tried to escape.”

“Then, the comfort station manager slapped my face until my nose started bleeding, and locked me in a small room with no food.”
“I was nothing more than an animal. If the Japanese soldiers saw me as a human being, they couldn’t have done what they did to me.”

Mass rape
Forced abortion
Mutilation and murder

The heinous war crimes changed the life of innocent civilians forever.
Many Korean girls lost the ordinary life that they deserved.

The defeat of Japan in WWII
The subsequent independence of Korea
The defeated Japanese soldiers returned home, leaving the Korean girls in China.

Japanese history is covered with the blood of countless innocent victims.
Japan has tried to cover up the tragic stories of the innocent girls.

Attempts to introduce ‘a resolution on the comfort women’ to the U.S. House of Representatives
These attempts were unsuccessful due to Japanese lobbying efforts.
In 2001 and 2005, two resolutions to the House were abandoned with no result.

In 2006, a resolution on the comfort women was finally introduced to the House, but it was again abandoned with the end of a congressional session.

March 1, 2007
“There is no evidence to prove there was coercion (in recruiting the comfort women)”
- Former Japanese Prime Minister, Abe Shinzo

There is no historical document to prove that those women were forced against their will into prostitution, and many of them were better paid than field officers and even generals.
- Paid Advertisement in the Washington Post (June 14, 2007)

450 thousand U.S. dollars
‘560 million Korean won’

The amount of money the Japanese government spent to block the resolution on the comfort women – Sankei newspaper (August 30, 2009) It is clear evidence of Japan’s effort to cover up historical truths. Due to the lobbying of the Japanese government, the victims’ international appeals kept being rejected. However, the Korean victims did not give up. The Korean girls, now old ladies, stepped forward to testify about their experiences.

Domestic and international NGOs and overseas Koreans began offering voluntary support. However, Japan’s effort to block the resolution was intense and persistent. Korean American communities started aggressive actions to counter Japan’s lobbying efforts.

Every weekend, they visited congressmen to persuade them.
They also produced a documentary about the comfort women.

On June 26, 2007, the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee passed the resolution on the comfort women. Despite much adversity, the resolution was approved with a vote of 39-2. Japan made intense lobbying efforts under the lead of its prime minister. However, Koreans’ sincere appeals defeated Japan’s powerful lobby.

The Government of Japan should formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Force’s coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known to the world as ‘comfort women’.
-   U.S. House Resolution 121

Every Wednesday, gray-haired former Korean comfort women come out to protest in front of the embassy of Japan in Seoul.

“I wasn’t born to be a comfort woman. I was a precious daughter of my parents.”

What they want is not money. What they want is for the Japanese government to accept its faults and make a sincere apology. A sincere apology will help them to put an end to their painful past. They want to live the rest of their life in peace. They want to ensure that a similar tragedy won’t happen again by sharing their experiences with the world.

The more you try to cover up the truth, the deeper you will fall into darkness. The more colors you add on a finished drawing, the uglier it gets. That is the lesson that the Japanese government should recognize.  The Japanese government should stop historical distortion and accept the truth.  It should make a sincere apology to the wounded women. Let’s help them put an end to their painful past. They want to go back to being ordinary women, as they were. They will just be living witnesses of hidden historical truths. All of us have a responsibility to help them recover their ordinary life.

Voluntary Agency Network of Korea (VANK) is looking for young Koreans who will help Korea overcome its historical pain.  With VANK, you will become the hope for the people of the world. Even money and power couldn’t defeat the sincere appeals of the brave Korean women.

Korea’s historical truth was presented to the world. History tells us. Have a dream to go with truth! Remember not to repeat such tragic history.

Dear young people, You should respect the dreams of other people. You should walk on a path for true history and peace! 

There are young Koreans who have a dream to go beyond Korea and influence Asia and the world. If you are one of them, you are our proud peacemakers.

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