Honoring Comfort Women SF
The Lost Girls: the story of the comfort women
Joanne Park (박정윤) , Silicon Valley Korean School 9th Grade
What does it mean to be lost? Whether you take the word “lost” by its literal or emotional meaning, being lost is something most humans experience. However, for some, being “lost” takes on a much darker meaning. For the comfort women during the Japanese Occupation, who were forced to be sexual slaves for Japanese soldiers, being lost is not as simple as losing a map. These young women were forced away from their homes to the point where some of them forgot what it means to have a family. They lost their identity, their purity, their childhoods, and their dreams. They lost their ability to be human, something no one should ever have to go through. As an American high school student living a relatively nondescript life, it’s almost impossible to imagine the level of pain that these women went through. However, it is still crucial to recognize this pain and to ensure that the suffering these women have felt is acknowledged.
Despite the horrors comfort women have endured, the stories of how they were forcibly taken from their homes and forced to give themselves as sexual slaves to Japanese soldiers have seldom been told. Though a few soldiers were prosecuted by Japanese authorities towards the end of the war, only eleven were found guilty. Abe, the prime minister of Japan, claimed there was no evidence that this had occurred even though the Japanese government had already revealed that it was true. By denying these cruelties altogether, it is an added insult to the unthinkable injuries these women went through when they were only teenagers.
This issue particularly hits close to home because of how young comfort women were when they were sent to these soldiers. The majority of the girls were aged 13-16: an age where being treated so inhumanely is far too consequential. As one survivor describes, “I was nothing but a toy, as a human being I meant nothing,” something no one ever deserves to feel.
In Seoul, a statue of a girl who served as a comfort woman during the Japanese Occupation reminds those who pass by the Japanese embassy that we must never forget what happened. Despite the purely symbolic motive behind the statue, authorizes often threaten to take it down, and so a number of college students always surround and protect it. This should be necessary. This statue, official named the “Statue of Peace”, is a mere visual representation of the horrors these women have faced; it is not a weapon, nor a threat.
But even if this statue remains, it is not enough. It is up to us to share the stories of every woman who was forced to be a sexual slave to a Japanese soldier during the occupation. Though most of us may have no idea what it feels like to feel so helpless, we are still obligated to make sure that the stories of those who have don’t go unheard. And not only must we share these stories with those we know, but we must also share them with the world, so that the long-awaited apologies to these women are finally given. As one newspaper article puts it, our time is running out. The average age of surviving comfort women has now reached ninety, and we must do everything we can to right the wrongs and to ensure justice for every single victim. Although we cannot give back these women the lives that were snatched away from them, we can do our best to make their perpetrators listen. Though these horrors cannot be undone, we must raise our voices and correct any misconceptions. We must teach our next generation the truth.
봄, 여름, 가을, 겨울이 반복된지 얼마나 되었을까?
언제 집에 돌아갈 수 있을까?
이번 겨울만 견디면 집에 돌아갈 수 있을까?
봄에는 엄마 아빠의 품에 안길 수 있을까?
아, 그립다. 그 오랜 세월……
우리집 마당, 엄마랑 따뜻한 고구마를 나누어 먹으며 웃었던 곳.
따스한 엄마의 품, 언제나 위로가 되는 생각.
우리 가족, 언제 만날 수 있을까?
아, 모든 것이 보고 싶다. 언제 집에 가서 볼 수 있을까……
무참히 짓밟힌 내 자존심. 너무 도망 가고 싶은 마음.
엄청 깊은구멍에서 영영 나오지 못하는 느낌.
좌절과 희망을 잃은 마음과 느낌.
집에 살아서 가는 것도 악몽 된 날들.
그래도 따뜻한 엄마 품을 생각하면 아픈 것이 가신다.
엄마, 저는 살아서 집에 돌아갈 거에요!
How much time has passed by since spring, summer, fall and winter have repeated?
When can I go home?
After I overcome this winter, will I go home?
Can I be in my Mother and father's arms in the spring?
I really miss everything. My home, my yard, where I ate snacks with my mom and joked around, my mother's arms, always a comforting thought.
My folks, when can we meet?
Everything back home seems like a dream; so far away, when can I see my house?
The feeling I want to escape, my pride and dignity slowly fizzling.
Frustration and losing hope everyday.
Returning home alive was a nightmare.
But the thought of my mellow mother's arms fades all my hurts and wounds.
Mom, I will come back alive!