Korean “comfort women” demand apology
By Dongchan Shin | KOREA DAILY
Translated by Heesook Choi
DECEMBER 21, 2011
Korean comfort women and Holocaust survivors embrace during a historic meeting.
Two Korean “comfort women” went public at a meeting with Holocaust survivors during an historic summit on the horrifying experiences the women all lived through during World War II.
“We all survived the fear of torture and death,” Holocaust survivor Ethel Katz, 89, told Yongsoo Lee, 86, and Oksean Yi, 88, two survivors of the Imperial Japanese Army’s comfort stations, where women were kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery.
The Korean American Voters’ Council (KAVC) and the Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives co-hosted the international summit at Queensborough Community College on Dec. 13. Organizers wanted to highlight the plight of comfort women, and to demand an apology and compensation for them from the Japanese government.
The event was held the day before the Comfort Women Survivors’ 1000th protest. Korean comfort women survivors have held a protest every Wednesday since January 1992, outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul. Theirs is the longest unanswered protest on a single topic in the world history.
“I was too young to know what’s happening and I lived a hell-like life in place called comfort station with electric fence,” said Oksean Yi, who, at the age of 15, was forced to engage in horribly violent sexual acts with Japanese soldiers in China in 1942. “They would slash our clothes and stab us if we did not obey their orders.”
Ethel Katz, whose parents and siblings were killed in Poland by the Nazis, said she barely survived by hiding in the woods, but suffered from hunger and cold weather for four months, which left her within an inch of her life.
The forum was the first step to a full-fledged KAVC lobby to promote the issues related to comfort women.
“The Jewish community is willing to collaborate on the issue from the perspective of human rights,” said KAVC president Dongchan Kim. “We will press Japan to bring justice for the victims by publicizing the issues at Holocaust centers around the world.”