Joon-kyi Kim is the director of a short animation film called ‘To The Girls’ (‘소녀에게’, 2017). It is based on the stories of the ‘comfort women’ who were women forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army in occupied countries during the 1930s and 40s. The film, while only 14 minutes in length, features a variety of shocking and angering moments that truly bring to light the unspeakably harsh realities that the ‘comfort women’ had to face during that time.
Kim was interviewed by ‘Ohmynews’ and had a lot to speak on the matter of comfort women. In the interview he mostly spoke about how the tragedy has been heavily ignored by countries and has overall been forgotten about throughout the world compared to other tragedies and mass crimes committed by the Japanese in the same time period. During the making of his animation film, he was able to reach out to several former Japanese soldiers and veterans who participated in either WWII or the Pacific War. He was expecting them to have clear knowledge and opinions on the comfort women situation, but the answers he received were far different from what he had expected.
Most of the veterans were unaware of the reality of the comfort women situation. Many of them even thought of them as prostitutes who did what they did for the money. Kim was expecting clear and specific details but ended up gathering few helpful statements.
It appeared to Kim that the Japanese government had done large amounts of work to hide a vast majority of their former acts to their citizens, as not only the veterans, but also their children and grandchildren were unaware of the tragedy. One thing that Kim was relieved about though, was that some of the people he interviewed showed repentance and were very understanding overall. One of the grandsons of the soldiers even offered to help in the making of the documentary. He and his grandfather reportedly did lots to educate themselves on the situation in a short amount of time. Their opinions on the sexual slavery tragedies had changed drastically.
However, it was still clear that more had been done to hide the sexual slavery crimes than to address and repent for them by the Japanese government. Kim felt heavily angered but also slightly confused, wondering why the Japanese always showed much remorse for their killings but refused to address any of their other doings, the comfort women situation being a clear example.
You can read Kim’s full interview here: