How difficult is it to say that you are sorry? Especially to a lovely old lady like that. I found myself saying I'm sorry to her repeatedly in my head on Sunday when I met her. I didn't bump into her on the street or accidentally take her seat on the subway. In fact I didn't do anything to her at all except hold her hand and give her about ten deep hugs and each one screamed I'm Sorry.
I'm sorry for all that she and the other halmoni (grandmothers) who live at The House of Sharing had to endure during their time as "comfort women" during WWII. The term comfort women was created in relation to a comfort station which in most Asian countries is a bathroom.A place where you could relieve yourself. Comfort stations were set up throughout Japanese occupied east Asia as placed for the men "to relieve their violent nature so that they could focus on fighting." The hundreds of thousands of women who were forced to live in these comfort stations experienced hell on earth every day for years.
|Every dot is a place where comfort stations existed.|
|The way that the halmoni imagined life.|
The way that life really turned out for the halmoni. Feeling impaled by bayonets that rise out of the Japanese flag. Traditional wedding outfits impaled and shredded. Hands unable to hold the dreams of peace and the pride in Korea.
|The way life really turned out for the halmoni.|
The Japanese government systematically used rape as a war tactic in a way that it hadn't been used before. Rape has always been and is currently used as a war tactic however the Japanese government actually set up rape stations for their soldiers. The woman in the video above is just one of thousands that was forced to "service" 60 or more soldiers a day.
When I listened to her sing and saw her smile I just kept feeling an overwhelming sense of guilt.I have done nothing to hurt her. The Japanese government still has not issued a formal apology to the women that were used as sex slaves during WWII. Just say you are sorry!
The women just want an apology. They want Japan to admit what they did and say that they are sorry. The halmoni that live at the non government supported House of Sharing protest outside of the Japanese embassy every Wednesday. They have protested over 900 times since 1991 and the Japanese government still refuses to say "we are sorry."
|A sculpture of the weekly protests against the Japanese government.|
They have the courage to wear yellow each week at the protests so that everyone can identify them.
The best way for me to let the halmoni know that I believe in their fight is to help them with their fight.
|This 93 year old halmoni loved the Moose Song |
and couldn't get enough hugs.
Please read about the halmoni and tell everyone that will listen. The House of Sharing The next time you are feeling giving make a donation (international transfers really aren't that hard). Japan has to take responsibility for what their government did. Korea has to accept these women as citizens and humans and support them in their quest for an apology.
Rape is an act of violence!
It is unacceptable!