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Who are the Comfort Women?

If your Social Studies and History classes were anything like mine (that is, in the Canadian public school system), chances are, they barely covered Korean history. I do recall my teacher mentioning the Korean War and the resulting division of the peninsula along the 38th parallel, but other than that, nothing else was touched upon. And of course, that is an overly-simplified way of defining the country’s history.

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One part of Korean history that is slowly gaining attention is the story of the comfort women – the thousands of young women who were forcibly sent to Japanese brothels before and during WWII. The New York Times wrote an article about them in 2014, as well as BBC News last year and Forbes Magazine earlier this year.

While the story has recently re-surfaced due to the controversial settlement between the Korean and Japanese government, politics aside, the entertainment industry has also been raising awareness. For example, comedian/MC Yoo Jae Suk’s annual financial contribution and k-pop star Suzy from Miss A’s continuous support of comfort women have been recognized.

For those of us who are more visual learners, a movie has been released in February 2016 that has been playing in selective theaters around the world. Below is the English trailer for the movie, 귀향 (The Spirit’s Homecoming):

There is also an award-winning short animation film (with English subtitles) that depicts the horrors of the comfort women’s stories:

I think the least we can do is to educate ourselves of these women’s sacrifices. Although it may not be part of our school curriculum, it is part of history that cannot be too easily dismissed.

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