The Comfort Woman Statue Goes to America

Do you know what the world’s longest protest is in the Guinness World Records?

Who are they, and why have they been protesting so long?

Every Wednesday
In front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, Korea

The protesters are the former “comfort women” for the Japanese military.

During the Japanese imperial period, they were drafted for military sexual slavery by Japan. 

For the Japanese government, “comfort women” are a part of the past that it wishes to forget.

However, the pain of the surviving victims is still present.

In 2011, the weekly protest of these gray-haired women marked its 1000th anniversary.

To commemorate the anniversary, a statue was erected in front of the Japanese Embassy.

These elderly women have long been asking for an apology from the Japanese government.

This statue of a girl always stands by them.

On the day of the 1046th Wednesday protest, a Korean girl set out on a trip to America.
Her goal!
“Promote the truth about the comfort women system as a Japanese war crime.”

“Promote the Dokdo naming issue as the lingering legacy of Japanese imperialism.”

Dokdo was incorporated into Japan in 1905. Like the comfort women issue, Dokdo is also considered a remnant of Japanese imperialism.

1. The comfort woman statue goes to the UN headquarters in New York!

Standing before the United Nations, an organization that represents human rights and peace

The girl wanted to promote the truth about the “comfort women” to the world.  

The winter wind in New York was harsh.
She shivered with cold.

Then, she thought of those strong survivors in Korea.

On Wednesdays, whether it is raining or snowing, they go to the Japanese embassy.

2. The comfort woman statue goes to Times Square!

Standing at Times Square, a famous place among New Yorkers and tourists

On this busy street, the girl tried to tell true stories about the “comfort women.”

However, she was confronted with indifference.

Suddenly, rain started falling and people hurried to their destinations. Her voice became muted in the rain.

Then, an American man approached her.

He was interested in who the statue represents. 

“The statue represents the victims of Japan’s military sexual slavery system.”

“For 15 years from 1931 to 1945, Japan took women from its occupied territories and forced them into sexual slavery.”

“Japan was committing this terrible war crime in Asia, while Nazi Germany was carrying out the Holocaust in Europe.”

“America is a country that supports human rights, isn’t it?”

“There are still a lot of human rights violations around the world. The comfort women issue is one of them.”

“In order to move forward, Japan should reflect on its past and apologize to its victims. Your interest and support will be a great help.”

He showed empathy and gave a flower to her. Then, he left.

3. The comfort woman statue goes to American universities!

Visiting renowned institutions that educate future leaders, who will tackle human rights violations and war crime issues

Harvard University
Georgetown University
Cornell University
Stanford University

During conferences at these universities, the girl told stories about the “comfort women.”

There was a question that surprised her.

“I just searched online. It says that the Japanese government already apologized. How do you respond to that?”

He raised his hand and asked her this question. 

“Yes, Japan did apologize. But, it denied its use of coercion during the recruitment of the “comfort women.”

“It also denied the government’s involvement.” 

“It insisted that those women voluntarily made their choice.”

“So, I don’t consider the apology sincere, but rather meaningless words.”

Still, Japanese politicians pay tribute to war criminals at their shrine and distort historical facts in their school textbooks.

He eventually understood how Koreans feel about their painful past and the Dokdo issue. 

Coldness, indifference and criticism
These are the three things that challenged the girl during her visit to America.

However, she found her strength by thinking about the strength of the surviving victims.

Also, one person at Times Square gave her the courage to go on.

Finally, while answering a student’s critical question, she found hope for change. 

What is the ultimate goal that the girl and the surviving victims want to achieve?

It is to prevent such tragedies from repeating ever again.

Although they lost their youth in their teens and twenties, they hope no one else will go through such pain and instead will live a happy life that they deserve.

However, they know there are still many people suffering in different parts of Asia and Africa.

For those who are suffering from wars, human rights violations and forced labor, these women are making contributions.

They refused to live as victims, but instead as human rights and peace activists. 

The Wednesday protest still continues in front of the Japanese embassy. 

The number of current survivors:
Only 60 women

The ultimate goal of the Wednesday protest

They are not fighting for “compensation” for themselves, but rather for an “assurance” of a peaceful future for everyone in the world.

VANK wants to promote this cause to Asia, Africa, Europe and all other parts of the world.

We are looking for courageous young Koreans who will take this journey with us.

A Korean girl came back from her first journey to America.
You can be a part of our next journey!

[Additional ending]

While we were making this video after our journey, we heard the news about the passing of two of the victims among the 60 survivors.

Kim Bok-sun passed away on December 12, 2012, followed by Hwang Geum-joo on January 3, 2013. May they rest in peace!

Now, there are only 58 survivors.
Time is running out.

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