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Comfort women issue is S. Korea’s diplomatic defeat

“Did the South Korean and Japanese government confirm that [the one billion yen to be paid by Japan] was not ‘compensation’?” (a Japanese reporter)
“There has been no change whatsoever in [Tokyo’s] position that the issue of claim rights for comfort women has already been resolved.” (Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida)
The main focus of journalists’ questions at an Aug. 12 press conference by Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida was on the basic nature of a pledged payment of one billion yen (US$9.9 million) by the Japanese government, which Kishida said would be disbursed “as soon as possible” according to a Dec. 28 agreement reached last year with Seoul on the comfort women issue. The reporters asked whether Japan had confirmed with South Korea that the contribution was not intended as compensation for the women’s drafting as sexual slaves to the Japanese military during Korea’s colonization (1910-45).
“There has been no change in the Japanese government’s existing position,” Kishida replied.
It was a brief exchange, but it reaffirmed what kind of deal the Dec. 28 agreement actually was.
Seoul and Tokyo’s battle on the comfort women issue over the past five years appears likely to go down in history as a defining moment in diplomatic history – one that made clear just how far South Korea’s power and autonomy reach in a northeast Asia order where conflict between the US and China is surfacing ever more visibly.
The emergence of the comfort women as a major social issue in South Korea came in the wake of a historic press conference on Aug. 14, 1991, by survivor Kim Hak-sun. After South Korea became a democracy in the late 1980s, comfort women survivors in South Korea began waging a concerted campaign to demand reparations and compensation from the Japanese government. Their calls were met with an adamant insistence from Tokyo that individual rights to claim damages had disappeared with the 1965 Korea-Japan Claims Settlement Agreement. Japan did propose a compromise: the Asian Women’s Fund (1995-2007) which acknowledged its “moral responsibility” rather than its legal responsibility for the inexpungible crime against women. It was the first “seal” on the comfort women issue.
The next two decades or so saw a dogged battle by the survivors and South Korean civil society, which used relationships of international solidarity to build a global understanding that the victims had been sexual slaves, and the system a war crime by Japan. At home, they waged a campaign to make the South Korea-Japan agreement document public. As a result, Seoul modified its previous position in Aug. 2005 to argue that three major issues had not been resolved by the agreement: the comfort women, Koreans on Sakhalin Island, and victims in the atomic bombings of Japan. The Constitutional Court ruled in Aug. 2011 that it was unconstitutional for Seoul not to engage in diplomatic negotiations with Tokyo to resolve the comfort women issue. The first seal had been broken.
The national fervor was carried on by Park Geun-hye: after becoming president in Feb. 2013, she ended up in a stiff battle with the Shinzo Abe administration with her demands for a “good-faith first step” from Tokyo on the issue.
This was more or less the limit of what Seoul could do alone diplomatically, however. As US-China frictions escalated, Washington announced in Oct. 2013 that it “welcomed” Japan’s exercise of collective self-defense rights. By the spring of 2015, senior US officials were being vocal about the need for all three sides to – as US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter put it in April – “face the future.” By the time of last year’s Liberation Day address on Aug. 15, Seoul had changed course, accepting the insulting statement by Abe – which made no mention at all of Japan’s colonization of other Asian countries – and attempting to improve relations. The Dec. 28 agreement was the logical result. With it, the victims’ rightful demands were once again sealed away.
The South Korean government has tried to present its actions as a “resolution” to the issue. But as the strenuous objections from the victims and public show, the deal is being seen as a lopsided diplomatic defeat. Kishida’s comments on Aug. 12 suggest the remain negotiations will be tough. That day, Kishida said the one billion yen could only be used within “the scope of uses agreed upon by the Japanese and South Korean governments,” and that steps would be taken to ensure the “expenditure for projects” would not be given as a lump-sum payment to individual victims. South Korea finds itself in the situation of having the comfort women issue “finally and irreversibly” resolved as a condition for receiving one billion yen that it cannot even use as it wants. Faced with the US’s East Asia strategy, Japan’s historical revision, the Park administration’s weak sense of her place in history, all the achievements made by South Korean society in the 71 years since liberation now appear to be going up in smoke.
By Gil Yun-hyung, Tokyo correspondent, HynKyuRe News Daily

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UN lambasts Japanese PM over ‘comfort women’

The United Nations has urged Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other leaders to stop making disparaging remarks on “comfort women,” the first official warning from the international organization since South Korea and Japan reached an agreement to settle the issue in December.

The accord was signed on the conditions that Japan would deliver a sincere apology to sex slavery victims in Korea and do nothing that can be considered defamatory to them. Nevertheless, some politicians and bureaucrats there, including conservative lawmaker Yoshitaka Sakurada, have ignored the agreement, denying Japan’s responsibility for its atrocities during World War II.

Their repeated violations have enraged victims and Korean people, pressing the Seoul government to nullify the agreement.

“The committee, therefore, considers that it is not precluded ratione temporis from addressing such violations,” the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) said Monday. The committee called on Japan to ensure its leaders and public officials “desist from making disparaging statements regarding responsibility, which have the effect of re-traumatizing victims.”

The CEDAW said Japan had shown continued lack of effective remedies for the victims, adding the bilateral accord did not fully adopt a victim-centered approach.

“Japan (should) take due account of the views of the victims and ensure their rights to truth, justice, and reparations,” it said.

The committee also expressed worry about references to comfort women deleted from Japanese school textbooks, asking Japan to reinstate them.

By Dahee Kim, The Korea Times

Spirits’Homecoming warm reception in North America

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The movie, Spirits’ Homecoming has got very positive reception from North American audience, resulting broader release on Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk in Canada(Starting from Mar.18), AMC Empire 25 in Manhattan, NewYork,  AMC Loews Bay Terrace in Queens, New York, Edgewater Multiplex Cinemas & AMC Starplex Ridgefield  Park12 in New Jersey, AMC Showplace Niles 12 in Chicago, AMC Cupertino Square16 in San Jose, CA, AMC Loews Alderwood Mall16 in Seattle, WA, AMC Sugarloaf Mills18 in Atlanta, GA, and AMC Fashion Valley18 in SanDiego, CA.

‘Guihyang'(Spirit’s homecoming), a movie about an abducted girl’s journey as a comfort woman

Teaser of ‘Guihyang’ on Youtube

Official movie website: http://www.guihyang.com

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/makingguihyang

tposter_spirits_homecoming

The film ‘Spirits’ Homecoming’ is based on the true story of Kang Il-chul , who was forced to become sex slave for the Imperial Japanese Army during the 1940s.

Born in 1928, she was taken by force to Comfort Stations by Japanese army in 1943, when she was only sixteen years old. This movie portrays a teenage girl’s struggle who was stripped of her human rights and dignity in the name of war and the militarism.

Unlike Germany, modern day Japan government has not made amends for their war crimes of the past. Rather, the Rightist faction, which influences great control over Japanese politics insists on unacceptable arguments as they deny the forced conscription of Comfort Women along with other historically known war crime facts.

The film does not seek simply to criticize the Japanese government nor does it seek to provide shallow comfort for the victims. Instead it aims to highlight the devastation and tragedy of the history caused by the military of Imperial Japan, and to heartily send out the message that this cannot be repeated. So, we dare say that this is not the story of the ‘past’ but of the ‘future’ for all. Furthermore, this is a ‘healing movie’ that focuses on alleviating the pain of the past.

Today, only a small number of victims remain alive. It is imperative that their stories be recorded and told to the world.

The Reason to Never Forget – origins of our tale
In the winter of 2002, when Director Cho visited ‘The House of Sharing’ to perform as a traditional Korean drummer for ‘Japanese Military Comfort Women’ victims who reside there, he met Kang Il-chul.

Ms. Kang, one of the Comfort Women victims, born in 1928, was only 16 when she was forcefully ‘recruited’ by a Japanese officer. She was taken to a Comfort Station in Mundanjiang, China, and was forced to work as a ‘sex slave’ for Japanese Soldiers.

Towards the end of war, after years of indescribable torment and abuse, she was diagnosed with typhoid. She was then, transferred outside the army camp, along with other girls who were also considered ‘useless’, to be thrown into a fire pit for disposal.

Right before she was thrown into the fire pit, she was able to make a dramatic escape thanks to a surprise attack from the Korean Independence Army at the time. From then on, she dwelled in China, with no way to go home but longing to return. In 1998, after years of waiting she was able to come home, and decided to reside in ‘the House of Sharing’ along with other victims.

In 2001, during an art psychotherapy conducted at ‘the House of Sharing’, she drew ‘Burning Virgins’ which depicts her own experience. After encountering her picture, Director Cho, shocked by the horrible truth and tragedy young girls’ lives trampled brutally, grieved deeply and wrote a scenario which gave life to the movie – Spirits’ Homecoming.

From the ‘Guihyang’, official site.

Free E-Book: ‘Balsamina: Touch-me-not’

Balsamina: Touch-me-not

Click above title, and you will be linked to the download site, where you can read the book in ibook version and others.

Cover of a E-book
Cover of a E-book

‘Balsamina: Touch-me-not’ is written by the author, Jung-mo Yoon, who is a popular writer and receives many awards for his work in Korea’s literary circle. He takes great interests in history and writes many history novels, including ‘Balsamina: Touch-me-not’, a journey of a young girl who got kidnapped as a comfort woman in her early age.

We -‘Justice for comfort women’- hope that this story will reach hearts of many people across the world, and let people know the issue is still with us.

Forget her not….. : My name is Kim Bok-soon(2014)

The revised performance of ‘My name is Kim Bok-soon’, the dance performance received great reception among critiques and general audience. With the Korean traditional song, ‘Arirang’, as a background music, the performance narrated the life of a comfort woman before she was abducted and after her soul got damaged. The performance ends up with a hope.

 

Choreographer, Jung-hoon Ahn
Choreographer, Jung-hoon Ahn
Dancers
Dancers

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Main choreographer: Jung-hoon Ahn

Dancers:

               Hyung-sup Kim, Myung-hoon Chung, Hye-yeon Han, Sun-hee Cho, Ka-ram Yo, Hyun-suk Lee, Hyun-kon Cheon,

               Byoung-hee Choi, Hyun-sang Yoo, Myoung-seong Kwon, Ye-rin Lee, Da-hye Yoo, Joo-ae Lee, Ji-yoon Chung, 

               Su-jeong Hwang, Sol Han, Jung-in Hong, Ji-hyun Ha, Ha-rang Choi

Performed at the National Theater of Seoul, S.Korea

Pope greets, consoles Korean ‘comfort women’

Pope Francis consoles  and receives a present from a former comfort woman, Bok-dong Kim whose ages is 88.
Pope Francis consoles and receives a present from a former comfort woman, Bok-dong Kim whose ages is 88.
A gift to the Pope Francis, painted by passed comfort woman, Soon-duk Kim, titled, 'Flower failed to blossom'.
A gift to the Pope Francis, painted by passed comfort woman, Soon-duk Kim, titled, ‘Flower failed to blossom’.
Pople Francis who visited S.Korea for 5 days.
Pope Francis who visited S.Korea for 5 days.

Pope Francis has blessed and consoled a group of women who were used as sex slaves for the Japanese military during World War II.

Francis greeted each of the seven women, most in wheelchairs, at the front of Seoul’s main cathedral Monday at the start of his final Mass for peace and reconciliation on the Korean peninsula.

He was given a pin from one of them which he immediately pinned to his vestments and wore throughout the Mass.

In an interview with The Associated Press ahead of the encounter, Lee Yong-soo, 86, said she hoped the meeting would provide some solace for the pain she and the other “comfort women” still feel more than seven decades after they were forced into sexual slavery.