Changdeokgung Palace, Joseon Dynasty, Korea, Seoul, UNESCO World Heritage Site
From The Ottawa Citizen:
The issue that brought people there on a grey, foggy day was a nearly seven-decades-old open wound: Imperial Japan’s forced enlistment of an estimated 200,000 young women from Korea, China, the Philippines and other nations as sex slaves — so-called “comfort women” — during the Second World War.
The women were incarcerated in “comfort stations” in Japanese-occupied foreign territories and forced to service the sexual needs of up to 30 Japanese soldiers daily. About three-quarters died and most of the survivors were left infertile by sexual trauma or disease.
The Ottawa demonstration was one of about 20 marches, documentary screenings and poetry readings around the world marking the 1,000th consecutive Wednesday that the frail, aging survivors and their supporters have demonstrated in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, South Korea. Korean women made up as many as 150,000 of the comfort women.
The “Wednesday demonstration”, which began in 1992, is now such a fixture that it has become a tourist attraction. The travel guide Lonely Planet ranks it No. 42 of 438 things to do in the South Korean capital.
“It’s one of the longest-standing demonstrations in the world, and they called for global action,” said Clara Wong, co-ordinator of the Ottawa event. “We’re responding in solidarity.”
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The survivors of Japanese military sexual slavery from WWWII have been demonstrating in front of the Japanese Embassy in downtown Seoul since January 8th, 1992. It is the world’s longest ongoing demonstration.
The halmoni or grandmas as they are called in Korea, have been doing this for 19 years every Wednesday morning. They and the supporters have been demanding the Japanese government to acknowledge and apologize for this war time act. So far, the Japanese government has been reluctant to do so. Due to the advance age of these grandmas, they might not be able to see the justice that they deserve.
Around 50,000 to 200,000 women from Asia had been forced or coerced by the Japanese Imperial Army during the war time. Most of the women came from Korea. Besides being raped daily by the Japanese soldiers in these comfort stations, these women were subjected to constant physical abuse and often killed if they tried to escape.
Unfortunately, due to the heavy rain and flooding in Seoul, the grandmas were not able to attend this week’s demonstration. In their place were these young students and activists who showed tremendous support for this thorny issue between the two countries. Without acknowledgment and sincere apology from the victimizer, the Korean people don’t believe that reconciliation can be achieved.