We Are Here
As I wrote in the previous blog, the campaigns and movements for Comfort Women in South Korea are normally seen and talked about. However, growing up in the U.S. for most of my youth, I have never seen anybody who talks about Comfort Women publicly. In fact, I have met only a few numbers of non-Koreans who are aware of this issue. This links to the lack of recognition on the issue by the Japanese government that eventually causes no historical education about Comfort Women. For a clearer understanding of this, whoever reading this blog must know about the German Nazi and the Holocaust genocide. But did you know about the Imperial Japanese army and Comfort Women before reading my blogs?
I am proud to be a part of people who continue the fight for justice of Comfort Women, but it should not be limited within the nation of South Korea. We must expand the justice movements for Comfort Women globally so it could be brought up to a higher conversation at the international level. On the bright side, more people around the world are getting involved in spreading the message which is extremely hopeful in terms of bringing foreigners’ attention. In extent, there are 7 Statues of Peace and 7 other Comfort Women memorial statues spread around the U.S, Canada, Australia, China, and Japan.
I have been feeling it much more personally by spotting different forms of campaigns for Comfort Women in the Los Angeles area. In August 2019, Dimo Kim Musical Theatre Factory that is based in NYC held a musical called Comfort Women in a span of 10 days at the Los Angeles Theatre Center. The musical beautifully and heart-wrenchingly featured a tragic Comfort Women story by an all-Asian cast. Surprisingly, the musical was performed for the first time back in 2015 and was the first-ever Korean musical that made Off-Broadway debut led by an East Asian director. Also, the show sold out when it first came out and was nominated for Best Off-Broadway Musical.
It is such a great thing to even see that the Comfort Women issue is being discussed outside of South Korea. However, I recently experienced the moment that actually touched deep in my heart. It was when I saw a group of girls, at least 5 years younger than me, on the local street of a small town in Glendale, spreading the justice for Comfort Women with a table full of hand made information notes and a donation box. And they were from the high school I graduated from. When I read their sign that said Justice for Comfort Women, I got stunned and stuck at that moment briefly rather than feeling excited. It was so surreal to see such a thing in person and the fact that they were from my high school took a while to piece up in my head. I never thought I would see younger students, especially those who were so physically close to me, to form a club at a school in the U.S. to spread the name of Comfort Women.
I have a hard time holding back my tears even right now looking at what they are doing in school. They are inviting other students to handwrite the truth of Comfort Women and oaths to fight for justice. They are talking about the current issue of Japan canceling an exhibition of Comfort Women. They are hand making pins in the shape of a yellow butterfly which symbolizes Comfort Women.
When I began writing my blogs, I always felt extremely depressed and angry. However, that shifted since I witnessed the younger siblings who are on my side. It allowed me to realize I could do more than I thought. With our hand in hand. Even if it might be invisible to the majority of people, we are still here. Fighting for justice. For the dream of our halmonis.