The 1,000th Wednesday Protest.
There was a lot of ridiculous behavior displayed by the media at the 1,000th protest that got me super angry, but I’ll write about that in another post.
For now, I just want to write about how inspiring, passionate, and courageous these women are (my favorite Halmoni, Pak Ok-seon Halmoni can be seen in the top photo wearing a blue scarf).
They are in their 80’s and 90’s and they have been demonstrating in front of the Japanese Embassy every fucking week for 20 years. In the rain, in the snow, in the heat, in the wind, without fail. They’ve faced social stigma, being called whores and prostitutes, they’ve been asked by their families to not go public but they go out there EVERY FUCKING WEEK.
FOR TWENTY YEARS.
And they do it because they want the world to know what happened to them, what’s still happening in wars all across the globe, what’s happening across national borders, what’s happening in school campuses, churches, and pretty much every corner of this goddamn planet.
And that is sexual violence against women.
And when you ask them why they’re out there every week, they’ll tell you that yes, they want their apology from the Japanese government - they want someone to look them in the face and say yes, it happened and I. am. sorry. But they’ll also tell you that they’re out there because they don’t want what happened to them to happen to a single other woman, ever again.
And that, is fucking powerful people.
I had never heard of this until now. Here’s some more information:
South Korean women forced to be sex slaves during the Second World War, who have spent two decades demanding recognition from the Japanese government, reached an important milestone Wednesday.
Their quest for an official apology and reparations reached a landmark on December 14, the 1000th Wednesday since January 1992 that “comfort women” and their supporters have protested outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul.
The comfort women - known as ianfu in Japanese - were forced to work in brothels run by the Japan’s Imperial Armed Forces during its occupation of the Korean peninsula.
It’s estimated there were as many as 200,000 women, mainly from Korea, but also China, Taiwan, the Philippines and other Asia-Pacific countries.
Kim Hak-Sun was the first of these women to speak out about her ordeal, in August 1991, and bring about a lawsuit against the Japanese government.
She says she was forced into sexual servitude at the age of 17, but some girls were years younger when they began enduring years of rape and violence.
In the months following Kim going public, 233 more South Korean women came forward and registered as comfort women with their government.
Only 63 of them are still alive and they are all in their eighties and nineties.
Their window of opportunity to get justice for their suffering is closing rapidly.
At Wednesday’s demonstration some of these women, and their network of supporters, erected a 120-centimetre high bronze statue of a seated young girl - a symbol the victims used to represent the comfort women issue - staring directly at the embassy.
Japan requested South Korean officials stop the group from placing the monument, saying it would “harm its dignity and affect diplomatic relations.”
Officials in Seoul refused to step in.