There are world atrocities that often go unreported, however, this event is now taking front page news, including involving the United Nations. From 1932 to 1945, during the wars (WWII) involving the Imperial Japanese Army, the military enslaved thousands of young girls and women from Korea and many other invaded Asian countries. The female slaves were used as sex slaves and were referred to as ‘comfort women.’ This story was brought to the forefront because many women survived to tell their comfort women stories, which many had kept their secret for years due to blame and shame.
The South Korean government has requested an apology from Japan for the suffering of the ‘comfort women,’ however it was slow in coming. During this time, the South Korean population has been up-in-arms over the plight of the ‘comfort women.’ Activist groups like Hong Kong’s ‘Defend the Diaoyutai’ often stages silent protests and artists like Duterte created bronzed statutes in the enslaved women’s honor and are placed in various locations throughout the world. Many of the emotionally filled statutes are placed in Hong Kong, throughout East Asia, the United States, and in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul.
Called the ‘Statue of Peace,’ it was one of the original ‘comfort women’ statutes, its location stood for the sight where weekly anti-Japanese protests took place. The South Korean residents also called for the boycott of Japanese products coming into its ports. Also, in 2013 a Sejong University professor of literature, Park Yu-ha wrote a book entitled ‘Comfort Women of the Empire.’ The book gave different reasons why she felt many of the ‘comfort women’ were willing sex slaves for money. The remaining ‘comfort women’ sued Ms. Park Yu-ha, however, they lost their case.
In 2015, President Park Geun-hye of South Korea and the government of Japan, lead by its aegis, Shinzō Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan agreed to settle their ‘comfort women’ dispute. Finally, South Korea and other Asian countries heard Japan express and sincere apology and admitted to their wartime enslavement of women. Japan said that they would submit a legal letter of apology and provide around $9 million to a fund that would help the remaining South Korean comfort women.
Time went on since the Japanese Prime Minister’s admittance, but nothing happened, including in different media scenarios, where Shinzo Abe seemed to back down from his apology and the monetary actions he said that the Japanese government would make to the ‘comfort women.’ Japan soon came under a new leadership with the election of Moon Jae-in as South Korea’s President.
President Moon Jae-in declared an official government day to memorialize the history of the ‘comfort women.’ President Moon further stated that he will dedicate a museum and research institute in Seoul. South Korea has always felt humiliation for the enslaving of their women by Japan just like the shame of the ‘comfort women’ by remaining silent through their humiliation, so did the Korean nation. In 1992 the only shroud for the ‘comfort women’ movement in South Korea is a shelter and museum built by a private Buddhist organization.
The remaining female survivors live in the shelter and as therapy, they are involved in art projects. The art the women produces, represents their torment because their stark paintings show women covered in blood, being dragged and many other images that have haunted them. There is a positive relationship between South Korea and Japan. The current response from Japan in today’s environment involved the country’s consul general who said that the ‘comfort women’ movement is a one-sided interpretation.