A surviving victim’s view on the Korea-Japan Comfort Women “deal”

Kim Bok Dong speaking at the KCC
Kim Bok Dong speaking at the KCC on 18 September 2015

In September this year 90 year old survivor of WW2 Japanese military sexual slavery Kim Bok-dong gave two public talks in London, at the Korean Cultural Centre and at Goldsmiths University. She said she had come, ‘not as a victim but as a human rights activist’, and explained that the surviving ladies were not just seeking justice for themselves but also for women and girls subject to rape and sexual abuse in subsequent wars and conflicts. Ultimately she said they wanted to see and end to war itself. It was incredibly moving to listen to and to meet this wonderful woman.

There has been quite a lot of discussion in this group about the deal reached on 28th December, supposedly settling the ‘comfort women’ issue between Japan and South Korea. The voices of survivors and their campaign groups were excluded from government talks, and ignored or marginalised in most news reports, giving the misleading impression this was a victory for the women.

Here is part of Kim Bok-dong’s response to the deal. It is well worth reading.

“Do they think we’ve been doing this for this long for money? We’ve been getting living expense support from our government and NGOs are taking care of us. We’re not asking for money. What we want is a legal reparation. That is to admit that they committed the crime as a criminal state. Without even talking to us victims about what the two governments have discussed, I really can’t understand how they can say that they came to an agreement.

We are not beggars. We live decently with the living expense support from the government. We are not fighting for money. About what Japan had done wrong in the past, it would be acceptable only if Abe apologizes and settles things legally and educate their students the truth and fix their textbooks.

However, without even a word, they talk amongst themselves and now this? Are they giving pity money to the poor? Giving kids candy money? And it’s not even a reparation. I really don’t understand why they are doing this.

And about the Peace Statue, both of the governments should leave it alone. The citizens erected it across the embassy on the peace street to teach our future generations of the tragedy that our nation once suffered. They have no rights to say anything regarding the Statue.

And I can’t accept this kind of apology. Why would we have been fighting until now if it was going to be settled ambiguously like this? If they are going to apologize, then do it properly, and if the Korean government wants to resolve the issue, then do it properly. If they are doing this for peace, then I hope they will do it the right way instead of hurting our feelings.”

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One thought on “A surviving victim’s view on the Korea-Japan Comfort Women “deal”

  1. I was born in Osaka, Japan in 1948. I came to the US in 1982 and am a naturalized US citizen. As for comfort women, I believe that the Japanese government must pass a law in the Diet, officially apologize to surviving comfort women and make compensation to them, as the US government did to Japanese Americans who were interned during WWII.
    Lately I had an opportunity to visit the Holocaust Memorial (its official title is Memorial to Murdered Jews in Europe) in Berlin, Germany. I believe that Japan should have the similar memorial in Tokyo in consideration of what the Japanese Imperial Army did in China, Korea and other Asian countries. l

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