I have two missing aunts. The only thing I knew was that my two aunts were taken somewhere by Japanese. But they never came back home.
My grandma went to the police station to search for the whereabouts of two missing daughters. Japanese police men kicked her in the face, head, stomach, back and leg with their boots. They threatened to kill her by saying, “If you come back here again, that’s your death anniversary!”
My grandma who was brutally beaten came home. She never went back to the police station again.
Never talked anybody about two missing daughters. Never questioned!
My grandmother knew that Japanese police men could do anything they wanted because that was what they had been exercising. That was the way they had been behaving for the 36 years of the Japanese Occupation of Korea.
She cried in silence and in the rain, so nobody could notice her crying. This is how my grandma saved herself since she was at the age of 13 because my grandma witnessed armed Japanese set the fire at her house while her parents were inside still alive. This massacre of the people was done to get rid of all the influential Korean people in order for Japanese to control Korea during the occupation without hindrance. After the burning of my grandma’s house, which her brother also witnessed, the Japanese abducted her only brother. No one knew to where and what he was taken; he never came home.
For the 36 years of the Japanese Occupation of Korea (1910-1945), thousands of Koreans, including several members of my expended family, were raped, tortured and slaughtered by the Japanese until America ended the war with the dropping of the two atomic bombs.
Japanese settlers residing in Korea called my grandma and our family “Poop Race” or “Sub-Human”. The reason of this calling was because Japanese were educated and raised with the concept that they had Imperial blood running though their veins, which made them believe that they were superior to any other races. People who have been brainwashed into these superiority complexes can brutalize other humans terribly and inhumanely, and their behaviors often target what they see to be “Sub-Human” races. Without regret, they can slice live human beings while victims are still alive and screaming.
Without admission of guilt, they justify these brutal actions of murdering and slaughtering by labeling those they torture and kill as “Sub-Human”.
Without being sorry, they can—and are entitled to—murder young girls after kidnapped, raped and beating them death while forcing to be sex-slaves, but Heavenly people have NO mercy for the merciless acts towards other human beings.
My grandmother was waiting for them to come. They never came back to our home.
She died waiting.
I lived with my grandma until her last breath in this physical realm. She died when I was 17 years old. The beauty of living with my grandma was to hear her stories almost every day until she died! My grandma told me stories of her life~~~ stories of people~~~ stories of nature~~~ stories of things that influenced in her life ~~~ stories of everything she learned throughout her life. My grandma clearly told me about compassion and love despite her own treacherous and terrifying memories.
A few years after my grandma’s death, ONE Korean woman— Hak-Soon Kim — who served as ‘Comfort Women’ revealed her horrible experiences during her sex-slave ordeal in August 1991.
Hak-Soon Kim appeared in public as the first former Korean comfort woman residing in South Korea. She was with tears in her eyes and said she’s scared and her chest’s pounding. She said that she had nothing, but only one thing for sure was that she knew she will die soon. Only courage she had was she does not have many days to live, which made her to decide to come out~~~to tell the truth of inhumanity and injustice she had experienced during serving ‘Comfort Women’.
Her testimony was the jump-starter to ignite more women to come out to break their silence of unbearable agony that had been pressed to be silenced for the half century of silence.
Some of ‘Comfort Women’ were only 11 to 16 years old—were either kidnapped or deceived by people who worked for ‘Comfort Women’ recruitment. They were turned into sex slaves, servicing 30 to 60 men per day while Japanese’s soldiers queued in long lines in front of the cubicles at the ‘Comfort Station’. They were used as masturbation machines for Japanese’s soldiers.
The majority were from Korea, some from China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Burma, and Indonesia.
Why they were in silence for nearly fifty years? Why? Why? Why?
The estimated number of Comfort Women was 80,000 to 200,000 (estimated by Japanese researcher. Chinese researchers estimated as much as 400,000).
There is one shelter called “Peaceful Shelter” in Korea where women who served as “Comfort Women” live together. It started from 3-4 women who did not have place to go and who could not have normal life after suffering both physical and psychological suffering, but the ones who survived and lived with unbearable tears for the rest of their lives. One woman found out that her uterus had been removed without her knowing when she was pregnant during the sex-slave ordeal.
There is every Wednesday prayer meeting in front of Japan’s embassy in South Korea to demand Japan to apologize because Japan does not want to talk about it or have been in denial. Japan would rather only talk about only two atomic bombs that killed and maimed millions of civilians.
A couple of months ago, one more Comfort Women survivor died. Before she died, she said she would hope to see Japan’ official apology for “Comfort Women” since Japan claimed that the government or the military did not involve or forced the women to be “Comfort Women”.
Now, there are now only 73 survivors living with unbearable tears and pain. These Comfort Women survivors are victims because of our inhumane history under injustice. They are the ones who need compassion and care.
They are the ones who were taken when they were only 11 to 16 years old. They are the ones who were kidnapped and raped by the Japanese soldiers, forcibly serving for sex slaves! But, conveniently, some people erased history~~~story of “Comfort Women”~~~unbearable tears of “Comfort Women” while others pretend that “Comfort Women” never happened. Some do not want to acknowledge and dismiss even if they are aware of the story of “Comfort Women”. Others insist that the whole “Comfort Women” story is a fabrication.
The problem is there will be NO light, NO repentance, and NO hope bringing to this “Comfort Women” controversy unless we see the issues of “Comfort Women” through the eyes of sex-slave victims. True apology should have been expressed with sincere feelings of regret and remorse. What it should happen is to acknowledge and accept the fact of “Comfort Women” through the victims’ eyes and their tears.
This is the TIME to understand their ordeal. This is the TIME to feel their unbearable tears. This is for healing, and we all need to work toward to end over the controversy of “Comfort Women”. This is because nobody wants to suffer. Nobody wanted to hold the memory of past sorrow and past sufferings. So, we all need to work together to end the continuation of repeated occurring through generations. We all need to learn to face while working toward balance and harmony, not in denial.
It is the time to learn to see things through the tears of the Comfort Women survivors. Because they are all our aunts! Your aunts and my aunts because we are family!
Let’s heal the wound from our past! This is our healing time!
Author: Yoon Ok Kim
Yoon Ok Kim began writing after experiencing a near-death from her brain aneurysm rupture in 2007. After more than one month of hospitalization in the ICU, she came home with many setbacks.
When she felt she had NO hope and NO life, her backyard welcomed her to start new life…a new chapter. By working in the soil, planting seeds, and connecting to mother earth, she asked herself, “Who am I?”.
With her feet and her two hands, like roots, connecting with the warmth of the mother soil, she dig up the soil to plant seeds of love and healing and peace.
In the same way she dig in her garden, she dig up the story of her mother and her grandmother, while the history of her birth land, Korea, lingers in the background. Through the digging of the soil and the past, she now realizes that her family story is a part of history~~~not separate from it. Through the rootedness from the plants, she now feels and smells the soil.
This was how she started writing her stories to heal the root~~~protect our Mother Earth.