We Don’t Have Much Time Left
We Don’t Have Much Time Left
  • Ra Yun-seo
  • 승인 2018.07.04 15:56
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The Peace Monument
The Peace Monument

 

Do you know one of the painful aspects of Korea’s history – the comfort women? The term “comfort women” refers to women who were forced into sexual slavery by Japanese soldiers during World War in order to enhance the morale of Japanese soldiers during the war.

The Japanese forces who caused the world war, lied and dragged Korean girls into the battle field to make them comfort women. The Korean girls, who were forced to become comfort women, were mostly teenagers from 15 to 19. The Japanese forces made these young girls work as prostitutes for as many as five to twenty soldiers all day and night. Their last job for the day was washing used condoms. When these girls got pregnant, the soldiers stepped on their bellies or inserted a mass of hot iron into the woman’s womb to abort the fetus. If women were found to have contracted sexually transmitted diseases after having forced sexual intercourse with the Japanese soldiers, the soldiers punished these women physically. When girls ran away, the soldiers held the girls and tattooed their bodies for their own pleasure. The Japanese soldiers also forced them to change their names to a Japanese name.

After liberation, the surviving comfort women were unable to come back home because they were taken as prisoners by the allied forces and held in a prison camp. But there were some cases in which they returned to their homeland. Many of them, however, were abandoned by their own country. There were also cases in which the Japanese soldiers killed the comfort women after defeat, or they left the women in foreign countries. Finding a way to go back home was almost impossible for them, which is why there were many women who continued to stay in foreign countries. Even the surviving enslaved women suffered from severe physical and mental abuse and disease. They suffered mental diseases, infertility and sexually transmitted diseases caused by beatings and sexual abuse, which caused them distress for years after. They had to take painkillers to soothe their physical pains, which led some of them to drug addiction.

In addition, most of the women were unable to engage in social activities again because they were once comfort women, and many had difficulty re-integrating back into their families. The women expected they could escape from their nightmare after liberation, but they couldn’t because of the cold indifference of Korea, which trapped them in their nightmare. However, Japanese do not admit their mistakes; rather Japan asserts that the comfort stations existed everywhere, and that even though there were comfort stations, they didn’t take the Korean comfort women by force. Considering this, Japanese government still will not acknowledge their mistakes, but rather they criticize the demand for an apology and compensation for the Korean comfort women. The Japanese assert that they are not morally responsible. But, most comfort women refused to receive a single yen for compensation until Japan acknowledges and apologizes for their mistakes.

Do you know that instead of comfort women, “Japanese military sexual slave” has been used recently? Japanese military sexual slavery means that the slavery empowered the Japanese Emperor and it was implemented for labor mobilization. Thus, the phrase comfort women refers to the women who were forced to be mobilized, not the women who voluntarily followed the army as Japanese goverment insists. Thus, you can see that the two phrases are definitely different.

In conclusion, we should recognize that we have little time left for the surviving victims who are still in pain. Among the total 239 Korean comfort women, there are only 29 survivors left. There’s no time to waste and we have to try to do everything we can for Korean comfort women. We might not have seen them walking down the street, but we can see the Peace Monument. The Peace Monument signifies the demands for retribution and acknowledgement for the comfort women. This monument was issued on the 1,000th weekly rally on December 14, 2011, by the Korean Council as a fundraiser to make up for the lack of compensation from the Japanese military. The Peace Monument is the work of Kim Un-sung and Kim Se-kyung. The 130-centimeter-tall bronze statue was built to urge Japan to acknowledge its role in the enslavement of the comfort women. The girl in the statue is wearing a traditional Korean costume, Hanbok, with bobbed hair and is staring at the Japanese embassy while sitting on a chair. Although the original monument is located across from the Japanese embassy in Seoul, people have started to build replicas of it all over Korea: beginning with the first replica at Daegu Girls Commercial High School in Daegu in 2015, and the second in front of the 2.28 Memorial Park located in Jung-Gu, one of the busiest districts of Daegu. On December 21, 2017, Daegu University established the third replica. One may easily pass it by without notice, but it can be a symbol of great strength for the women when if you stop and think for a while.

If you want to donate to the Korean comfort women, you can donate through the Daegu Citizen’s Forum for Halmuni, working to raise funds by selling products by the brand “Heeum” for the comfort women and by promoting peace and women’s human rights. There is also a brand called “Girls Liberation Party,” which is a voluntary donation group to restore and revive the human rights and honor of the comfort women.

I f you want more det ai led information about comfort women, you can find out the history of comfort women. I want people to pay more attention to this problem because we don’t have much time left.