HEALING KOREAN COMFORT WOMAN
Time heals all wounds! This phrase is always used in times of pain to hurt personas and yes I must say time actually heals. It does not really matter how long but the basic point is that with time, a person is able to move forward and let go of most of the issues bugging them. During this time a strong individual is formed, a person who knows what they deserve, a person who knows their worth. A person who causes a revolution. Healing time makes one understand what to do to change stagnant situations. They come out strong as ever just because of taking time to heal.
The Korean comfort women stories have sprouted up the strongest women in the world, women who were the most vulnerable now are the heroines. Great right! Kim Hak Sun is one phenomenal woman who stirred up a lot of tension especially on the comfort women issue. Kim was a human rights activist in Korea, she campaigned against women’s mistreatments.
At the age of 15, Kim Hak Sun was sold to a family that trained Kisaeng: to be an entertainer, in Pyongyang. Her mother was unable to support her livelihood. The house owner trained her for a period of two years and named her Kumhwa. Kim was then taken to China in 1941 by her house owner as they were unable to find a business in Korea. While there, she was recruited by the Japanese soldiers together with her friend who she was within the new house owners place. They were then recruited to the comfort stations where she spent four months. She later was helped to escape by a middle-aged peasant from Pyongyang. This man married her and they bore two children. She never shared her story with her family as they died before she came out with her story.
Kim is said to have opened the door for other women to share their stories. From the activist nature that she had, she decided to break her silence after 50 years. She was the first woman to speak of her experiences as a comfort woman in her country South Korea. In 1991, Kim decides to go public with her story. At a press conference, she talked about her experiences in the world. Kim was courageous and challenged the government of Japan. She started telling her experience: as in 1941, she was traveling with her stepfather in Beijing, she was 17years by then. She was recruited by the Japanese troops and taken to Chinese town. Then was the onset of her being a comfort woman. As she stayed in the comfort station for months before she was helped to escape. She did not dare run or hide while in the comfort station. She, however, managed to escape a year later.
Kim thought it wise to start a quest of justice for herself and other women.therefore, in December 1991, Kim filed a class-action lawsuit against the Japanese Government. Being the first woman to come forward with her story as a comfort woman, making her a lead plaintiff. Kim was the only woman who used her real name in connection to this case. The story of Kim Hak Sun was published in a book in 1993. The book was later edited by the Korean Council for women. This book contains stories of 18 other women were comfort women of Korea. Kim’s chapter of the book was also published in another book called true stories of the Korean comfort women. After Kim stood up forward and explained her plight to the world, she made several efforts to share her story in every way. In 1995, she was in a play that was titled ‘disappeared in Twilight’, this stage play was a play about the life of comfort women.
Kim had started up a campaign after there was a movement that was against the World War 2 acts that the Japanese had done. According to the secretary of the council, the movement lacked firsthand evidence, under the notion that they knew there were comfort women but none had stepped up and acknowledged that she was one. Therefore, Japan was defiant and the movement started losing steam. After this, Kim was agitated and then decided to come out. She explained it to have had a megaton-range impact.
There was then the ensuing testimonies that helped change the perception of the different comfort women from Korea as well as other women who were suffering the same kind of abuse in the society. Her testimony also caused publications, historical records, news articles that pointed to the military setting up comfort stations in other countries i.e.: Korea, China and elsewhere.
In 1993, there was a law that was passed by the Korean Government and started taking effect. The law was to provide financial support to the comfort women. They were given administrative support as well. The textbooks were mandated to edit and publish the story in a more clear and detailed manner. Kim Hak Sun enabled other women to come out with their stories notably, additional 237 women have come forward and registered themselves as former comfort women.
Despite Kim Hak Suns adamant efforts to seek justice, she lost her lawsuit in Japan, she launched a protest with other women. She planned a protest outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul. Their main goal for the protests was to coax the Government of Japan to open a full probe into its wartime comfort stations and take legal responsibility. They also demanded compensations for the former comfort women especially the aging women. Because of this, Japan created a private fund called the Asian women fund to provide for 360 survivors in Korea. Kim ordered that her savings were to be given to the less privileged in her society. She had a total of 20 million as her savings when she died. Kim Hak Sun’s testimony enabled the women to commemorate her and other courageous women by taking part in a candlelight vigil in front of the Seoul station.
Comfort women were women and girls forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army in occupied territories before and during World War II.
The name “comfort women” is a translation of the Japanese ianfu (慰安婦), a euphemism for “prostitute(s)”. Estimates vary as to how many women were involved, with numbers ranging from as low as 20,000 (by Japanese conservative historian Ikuhiko Hata) to as high as 360,000 to 410,000 (by a Chinese scholar); the exact numbers are still being researched and debated. Most of the women were from occupied countries, including Korea, China, and the Philippines. Women were used for military “comfort stations” from Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaya, Taiwan (then a Japanese dependency), the Dutch East Indies, Portuguese Timor, and other Japanese-occupied territories. Stations were located in Japan, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, then Malaya, Thailand, Burma, New Guinea, Hong Kong, Macau, and French Indochina. A smaller number of women of European origin were also involved from the Netherlands and Australia with an estimated 200–400 Dutch women alone.
According to testimonies, young women were abducted from their homes in countries under Imperial Japanese rule. In many cases, women were lured with promises of work in factories or restaurants, or opportunities for higher education; once recruited, they were incarcerated in comfort stations both inside their nations and abroad.