The untold story
Today I visited the “House of Sharing,” a museum set up to tell the story of women who were forced into sexual slavery at the hands of the Japanese military during WW2. The Pacific Theatre isn’t something that we learn much about in America. Apart from Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Iwo Jima, there really isn’t a lot of discourse devoted to the rest of what happened. Japan was pursuing a colonial empire, and had pushed into China, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, and so on. Korea-Japan relations have been tenuous over several issues like this, and continue to be. Perhaps the most salient right now is the plight of the thousands of women who were kidnapped by the military and forced to work in brothels set up by the Japanese Imperial Army. This is an incredibly controversial issue right now. Japan refuses to claim any responsibility amid international calls for an appropriate apology.
I couldn’t really do the issue justice in this post, and I’ll probably revisit the topic at a future date. It was a special treat today to get to hear testimony from one of the former “Comfort Women” [sic]. She said that the officials came to her house and said that because she was the youngest daughter in her family she had to go away and “serve the good of the empire.” So she was taken to an area of China near the Soviet border when she was 16. For two years she worked at a military brothel, and forced to serve the needs of the soldiers who came calling. Many such women often were raped 30 times a day. Many were not only raped, but were also beaten severely. Two years later, when the war ended, she was left stranded in a remote area of China with no way to get home and no belongings of any kind. She eventually made her way back to Korea by WALKING! Now she lives with 10 other women at the Sharing House outside of Seoul. The museum is set up to provide a safe haven for these women and to educate the public about this dark moment in human history. If you live in Korea, I urge you to take a visit to this museum. English tours are available about twice a month.