Comfort Women


Korean Minjok Leadership Academy
JBS



Table of Contents


Second Draft , Dec. 5th 2009
First Draft , Oct. 19th 2009
Working Table of Contents , Dec. 21st 2008
Sample Chapter , Dec. 21st 2008
References , Nov. 27th 2008



Second Draft . . Go to Teacher's Comment

Korean 'Comfort Women' Since World War II

I. Introduction
            'Comfort women' is a widely used term referring to the women drafted for military sexual slavery by Japan during World War II. The atrocious deeds of Japanese military to the victims are relatively well-known to the public by means of photos, testimonies, media, books, and etc. Yet, their lives after the war have been and still are largely neglected. Nonetheless, for the survivors, decades of poverty and trauma have been as agonizing as several years in "comfort houses." Moreover, in order for the society, including governments, NGOs, and the general public, to provide the victims with proper assistance, their experience after the war should be analyzed in advance.
            This study traces the lives of Korean ‘comfort women’ from the end of the war until now. Mainly based on their testimonies, it will reconstruct their experience during the war its physical and psychological impact on them. Then it will further analyze their impact on the victims' lives up to the present.

II. Lives of 'comfort women' during the War
            Japan began building "comfort houses" in the middle of 1930s. From 1938 to 1945, about 10 to 20 thousand women were allured or taken to Japanese military front dispersed over China, Southeast Asia, and etc. 80% of these women were Koreans and were mostly teenagers (1). The girls were designated to small rooms and were forced to have relationship with 20 to 30 soldiers a day in general. Venereal diseases were rampant among the ‘comfort women’ even though the military practiced regular inspection. Those with venereal diseases were often left to death or were shot dead.

            "It was like being raped everyday." (Anonymous)

            "That wasn't a life of a human being." (Anonymous)

            "Japanese people treated us worse than dogs." (Anonymous)

            Hwang Geum Joo, one of the victims, testified that she and fellow teenage girls were entrained thinking that they would be working at factories (2). Instead, the girls were taken to shanty-like "comfort houses" in which they treated as much as 50 men a day. They were supposed to treat men from noon to midnight. During the day, they received privates, at night, officers. The women were under severe control; they were forbidden to go outside the fenced area and were harshly punished when they refused to treat soldiers. To provide services for larger number of soldiers, the 'comfort women' were frequently transported to different locations and were sometimes mobilized to haul ammunitions and other military goods. In some cases, they were even put to battles (3).
            Probably due to Buddhist morals to confess their guilt before death, some of the old Japanese people recently testified about their role during the war. For instance, former director of mobilization department of Shimonoseki, Yoshida Giyoji published his book entitled "This Is How I Took Off Koreans." Moreover, in January of 1992, an NGO supporting the 'comfort women' in Tokyo received 230 calls in a week right after they installed their first phone. The calls were mostly made by former soldiers in their 60s and 70s who certified that they used the "comfort houses" which were established and managed by Japanese military. (4)

III. Distribution of 'comfort women' at the Time of Surrender

III.a. Number
            Japan declared unconditional surrender on August 15th of 1945. There is no official government statistic available on the exact number of 'comfort women' at the time of surrender. It is often estimated that the total number of victims ranged from 50,000 to nearly a million. Yet, the most widely accepted approximation is 200,000 taking into account that there existed one 'Comfort Woman' for at least each 30 soldiers and that nearly 6 million soldiers were sent during the Pacific War.
            According to the testimonies or records by past Japanese and Allied Forces officers and the 'comfort women', 'comfort women' were present in nearly anywhere where Japanese military was deployed. On the day of surrender, there were approximately 5,472,400 Japanese soldiers scattered over Asia and Pacific islands. The distribution of Japanese military is described in the following table.

Table 1: Number of Japanese Soldiers Deployed in Each Region on October 15th, 1945 (6)
Region 1945.8.15 Number of surviving soldiers
Taiwan 128,100
Manchuria 664,000
Chinese Mainland (including Hong Kong) 1,055,700
Subtotal 1,847,800
Okinawa Main Island
Etc.
12,100
28,800
Okisawara Islands 15,000
Japanese Mainland 2,372,700
Subtotal 2,428,600
Southern Joseon 200,200
Northern Joseon 94,000
Subtotal 294,200
Sakhalin, Kuril Islands (including Aleutian Islands) 88,000
Subtotal 88,000
Mid-Pacific Islands 48,600
Philippines 97,300
French Indochina 90,400
Thailand 106,000
Burma (including India) 81,100
Malaysia, Singapore 84,800
Indonesia 105,600
New Guinea 30,200
Bismarck Islands 57,500
Solomon Islands 12,300
Subtotal 713,800
Total 5,472,400


            Along with Japanese soldiers, 'comfort women' were dispersed extensively in various regions in 1945. The number of 'comfort women' in each region was mostly commensurate with the number of Japanese soldiers. Except, the Japanese mainland hosted relatively small number of 'comfort women' since the Geishas mainly treated the soldiers there. According to Table 1, nearly 60% of Japanese military, disregarding those stationed at Japanese mainland, were in China and Manchuria. The other 40% were scattered over Korea, Indochinese Peninsula, and Pacific Islands. Okinawa Islands and Okisawara Islands also had a number of 'comfort women' due to the small local Geisha population.

III.b. Distribution
            The distribution of "comfort houses" corresponded to the range of Japanese military. To prevent the spread of sexual diseases and stabilize the security, Japan installed "comfort houses" in most of their conquered regions. Again, the exact number and position of "comfort houses" cannot be verified due to Japanese government's reluctance to release its documents. Yet, there are limited amount of official documents and testimonies that provide some information on the distribution of "comfort houses".

Figure 1: The Distribution of Japanese Military "Comfort Houses" (7)

            Japanese military at the end of Pacific War can be divided into four groups. The Southern Quarter was responsible for the Japanese military stationed in Philippine, Malaysia, Thailand, Borneo Islands, Burma, and etc.. The Chinese quarter, Manchurian quarter, and Japanese quarter each ruled its assigned region. Figure 1 demonstrates that the “comfort houses” were clustered in these four regions.

IV. Courses of Action after the Surrender

Just as the ‘comfort women’ had not known what was going on when they were drafted, they were left unaware of the situation again when Japan surrendered. Japanese government put much effort in bringing their soldiers and civilians back home. It carried out an extensive repatriation plan in which millions of Japanese people came home mostly via ships. Yet the 'comfort women' were excluded from such procedure except for some unique cases where friendly Japanese soldiers took the victims with them. Even the managers of the "comfort houses" left the women behind without any notification.
            The 'comfort women' were deserted. They starved to death, were forced to "die in glory" along with the army or were massacred in a cave with bombs.

            "One day, all the Japanese soldiers disappeared. That’s when I figured out that Japan had lost the war." (Park Mak Dal)

            "After the loss, the manager left in a car, and I figured out that Japan fell only after the other soldiers told me so." (Yuk Young Ran)

            "Suddenly, the soldiers no longer came." (Anonymous)

            "After Japan lost the war, the owners (of "comfort houses") packed their belongings and fled away." (Hong Kang Rim)

            Unable to speak the native languages of the region, the ‘comfort women’ were mostly ignorant of the ongoing situation. Moreover, the local people were often hostile toward the victims, labeling them as "prostitutes of Japanese soldiers." (8)

            "After Japan’s surrender, I was wearing a Japanese cloth and the Chinese stoned me calling me a prostitute." (Hong Ae Jin)

            "The Chinese people took away our clothes and beat us thinking we were Japanese. (...) I didn’t speak Chinese back then so I just trembled out of fear." (Hong Kang Rim)
            "While I was getting out of there, the Chinese robbed me of my boxes with money, blanket, and clothes. They beat me hard with sticks." (Jang Chun Wall)

            Before the surrender, the 'comfort women' at least had a shelter and food. Now that they were thrown into an unknown environment with hostile locals, they were not even able to support their basic needs. Some begged or searched food from garbage. Some worked at restaurants or even brothels. Rarely, some leaned on few friendly inhabitants. In some cases like that of Wuhan, 'comfort women' joined together to help each other; yet it did not provide themselves with practical solutions.
            The 'comfort women' were usually ignorant of the situation in Korea and their chances of returning. Depending on their situations, some of them decided and managed to return home while others chose or happened to stay in foreign land.

IV.a Those Who Remained
            Those who ended up staying abroad either chose to do so or had no choice at the first place.

IV.a.1 Those Who Had No Choice
            Left alone in nowhere and struggling to survive, many of the 'comfort women' could not afford to find their way home. They were often penniless and ignorant of their means to return home. After years of agony, they were mistrustful of people; they decided to stay wherever they were, fearing the world outside. According to the victims' testimonies, some of their fellows committed suicide by jumping into rivers (9). Raised in a strong Confucian society, years of sexual violation would have uprooted themselves of self-respect.

            "Even though I wanted to go back, there was no way. I didn’t have money nor anyone who could help me out." (Ji Do Ri)

            "I ended up staying there because I didn’t know what to do." (Hong Kang Rim, Lee, Ji)

            There were some cases in which the 'comfort women' attempted to return yet was halted by the political situation.

            "I tried to come home but was accused as a spy amid the confrontation between the Communist Party and the Nationalist Party." (Jung Hak Soo)

            "I tried to return after the liberation but they told me at Chongjin that I couldn’t go further than 38th parallel. So I came back here again and lived here ever after." (Cho Yoon Ok)

IV.a.2 Those Who Chose to Stay
            Some ‘comfort women’ lost the will to come back because they perceived themselves as polluted. They feared that their family would welcome them if they find out what had happened. At times, the ‘comfort women’ had no family left at all. Korean men would obviously not marry to these women who had been dishonored by countless men. Especially when some local offered help, they chose not to risk going back to where they were uncertain of the future.

            "We 'comfort women' rejoiced when we heard the news of Japan’s loss. However, I thought my body was not supposed to touch my homeland again." (Noh Soo Bok)
            "My parents and my brother all had passed away. (...) I had no money nor parents, why would I come home ?" (Im Geum Ah)

            "I was like an old orphan thrown away on street. At such situation, I couldn’t contact my home and my rippied-off self-respect and sense of humiliation took away my courage to come back." (Jung Soo Jae)

            "I told them I was not going back to Joseon. I thought there was no use going back with this body." (Ha Goon Ja)

            "I had no money left in hand, so I had no choice but to lean on somebody." (Jang Choon Wall)

            "I wanted to go back to my motherland but the people scared me saying 'if you go out now the they would traffic you again.' I hesitated to leave. (...) Eventually I decided to just stay there because the world was so scary and fearsome." (Jung Hak Soo)

            "I had no place to go and it was hard to make a living so I stayed in a brothel ran by a Chinese for a month or so." (Hong Ae Jin)

            It must be noted that the ‘comfort women’ felt extremely humiliated. Despite the fact that they were smuggled and raped contrary to their will, they referred themselves as whores. It is because the sexual slavery system took the format of the Japanese state-regulated prostitution in which the 'comfort women' received coupons for their act. Thus, rather than solely blaming the Japanese soldiers and victimizing themselves, they perceived themselves to be filthy. Consequently, many of the victims, who were deeply imbued with Confucian ideology, suffered from confusion of self-identity, eventually leading them to commit suicide or give up returning home.

IV.b Those Who Returned

V. Lives of 'Comfort Women' After the War
            The aftereffects of ‘comfort women’ varies among individual victims. Yet most of their symptoms are inevitably related to sex in common.
            The ‘comfort women’ system itself originated from Japanese cultural background. State-regulated prostitution expanded to the Japanese military as the Japanese army's ‘comfort women’ system (10). Thus it is logical to begin from the Japanese sex culture when studying the organization of military sexual slavery. Yet, when analyzing the experience and reaction of the victims, it needs to take into account the Korean sex culture.
            Korean society’s attitude toward sex is rooted in traditional Confucian ideology. In the patriarchal society, there exist double standards for men and women in terms of sex. Furthermore, Confucian ideology is fundamentally centered in family. Hence, for Koren women, marriage has been their yardstick for success and self-identity. Within such social convention toward marriage, women’s sex was rather strictly understood in relation to childbirth only. Thus sex life unrelated to childbirth was regarded unnecessary and often immoral. Chastity determined a woman’s value. The victims were consequently excluded from ordinary marriage system; they could not manage to marry anyone or even if they did, their marital life was often problematic.
            This chapter will first analyze the victims’ wounds from their experience and determine their impacts on their lives after the war, especially marital lives.

V.a Psychological Aftereffects

            "While meeting the ladies I came to realize that they are all psychologically fragil. They are especially weak when dealing with sex. (...) In fact, their physical illnesses are mostly due to their age so that it is hard to expect substantial recovery. Instead, their unstable state of mind is what makes me feel sorry for them. I think psychological problems are more important for them. (a hospital staff) (11)

            Psychological characteristics apparent among the victims of ‘comfort women’ are anthrophobia, mental instability, anger, sense of shame, guilt, self-abasement, resignation, depression, and loneliness.

            "I didn’t marry because men are creepy. I can smell the creatures even from a distance." (Anonymous)

            Their rage and fear toward men led to inability to form social relationship with others. Plus, worrying that the people around them might find out about their past, the victims habitually moved their residence, jobs, social circles, and etc.

            "I went to Muk-ho and there were some prostitutes. I told them I wasted my body just like them." (Anonymous)

            Despite the fact they were forced to do so, the 'comfort women' identified themselves as no different than prostitutes. This phenomenon is due to the organization of "comfort houses" which resembled Japanese public prostitution system. The ‘comfort women’ were provided with coupons as compensation for their services. Considerable number of victims accounted that they cherished these coupons hoping to be paid with money after Japanese victory. Some confessed they actually served Japanese soldiers, mostly officers, after accepting their fate and expecting to get a better life after the war. Consequently, they blame themselves for polluting their bodies and lived with sense of guiltiness.

            "I don’t even want to remember what happened in Manchuria. When I was escaping, I desperately hoped to come back home. Yet having been through all these now, I wonder why I didn’t die back then. Is this worth living wandering alone like a madwoman ?" (Anonymous)

            The psychological trauma from experience of ‘comfort women’ resulted in the victims’ hatred toward other people and ultimately, themselves.

V.b Physical Aftereffects

Table 2 (12)
None Venereal diseases Inflammation of the bladder or pubic region Mental diseases Gastroenteritis or enteritis External wound Etc. (diabetes, neuralgia, drug addiction)
2.9 % 7.6 % 23.8 % 14.3 % 7.6 % 12.4 % 31.3 %


            Physical wounds acquired during the Wars include external wounds, infertility, venereal diseases, abnormality in uterus. The injuries are results of constant rapes and violence by Japanese soldiers, and partly due to the victims’ self-injury or usage of drugs like quinine. (13)
            The victims have been aware of their infertility; they either took examination upon their return or gradually figured out after years of marriage or cohabitation without pregnancy. Nonetheless, many of the victims have been and are still unaware of their venereal diseases.

            "Among the ladies who got examined at the Central Hospital, 50% were found to be infected with syphilis. We are really careful about telling the results to them, but because syphilis requires medical treatment, we have to notify them. However, majority of the ladies who were informed were unaware of their diseases and often refused to acknowledge it. Some denies to get treated." (a hospital staff)

            Notably, unlike other gynecological diseases, percentage of prolapse was lower than that of ordinary women. It is probably because they have rarely gave birth to a child or had sexual relationship.
            Many of the victims also suffer from chronic diseases like tuberculosis, diabetes, asthma, joint diseases and etc. These are not direct aftereffects of ‘comfort women’ experience, but are caused from penniless and desperate situation after the wars. Moreover, it was widely observed that the ladies had psychosomatic disorders: physical disabilities like difficulty in breathing, digestion, and etc. due to psychological trauma.

V. c Marital Lives
            Physical and psychological wounds from the experience definitely hindered the victims’ chance of getting married. Those who could not manage to hide their past were absolutely blocked from marrying ordinary men with similar age. Some shunned marriage out of hatred toward men.

            "I stayed several years with my parents after the return. I told my parents that I worked as a kitchenmaid in China. I insisted on living alone even though they told me to marry." (Anonymous)

            "My mom was eager to have me marry someone but that was the last thing I would do. I couldn’t stand wondering who would marry a former 'Comfort Woman' like me. But I couldn’t tell my mom that I was a "comfort woman." I told her I’d studied and worked at a factory." (Anonymous)

            Even for those who got married, their marriage mostly ended up short when the husband found out about venereal diseases or infertility.

            "I accepted neighbors' advice to marry a three-year younger police officer. We started our family in Mok-po sometime around the outbreak of Korean War. I went out of that house after I couldn't have a baby for four years. (...) I connected my husband with a woman when I left him. He was the eldest son and was very much fond of children so I simply couldn't stay with him no longer." (Anonymous)

VI. Conclusion
            The victims of military sexual slavery by Japanese military have undergone agonizing experiences which left them with physical and psychological wounds. Nonetheless, several years of constant violence haunted the victims’ lives even after the war; they avoided much social relationship and belittled themselves; they suffered from chronic illness added to venereal diseases which restricted their activities and marriage. Consequently, the victims were largely excluded from ordinary marital life. In a Confucian society like Korea, where female’s self-identity is determined by her marriage, such loss meant destruction of their lives and life-long despise toward the harmers which they could not even identify other than as the Japanese government.

Notes

(1)       KCWD Source Book Vol.1, 1991; Yoon, 1991; Chung, 1993; NYT, Jan. 27,1992
(2)       KCWD, SSCW, 1993; NYT, Feb. 23, 1992
(3)       KCWD Source Book Vol.1, 1991; KCWD, 1991
(4)       NYT, Jan. 27, 1992
(5)       Kang. p. 141
(6)       Kang, p. 154
(7)       Kim. p. 231.
(8)       Koh. p. 224.
(9)       Ibid. p. 226.
(10)       Kee
(11)       Lee
(12)       Lee
(13)       KCWD Source Book Vol.1, 1991; KCWD, 1991.

Bibliography

고혜정 (Koh, Hye Jeong), 일본 패전 후 타국에 남겨진 피해자의 삶 (Life of the Victims Left Abroad After Japanese Surrender), pp. 221-400, in: 한국정신대문제대책협의회 2000년 일본군 성노예전범 여성국제법정 한국위원회 진상규명위원회 (Fact Finding Committee of Korea for The Women’s International War Crime Tribunal of 2000 of Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan), 일본군 ‘위안부’ 문제의 책임을 묻는다: 역사 사회학적 연구 (Accusation of Responsibility for Japanese Army ‘Comfort Women’ Issue: Historical and Social Study), Seoul: 풀빛, 2001.
김혜원 (Kim, Hye Won), 딸들의 아리랑 (Arirang of the Daughters), Seoul: 허원미디어 (Her One Media), 2007
강정숙 (Kang, Jung Sook), 1997, 일본군 위안소의 지역적 분포와 그 특징 (Regional Distribution of Japanese Military "Comfort Houses" and Their Characteristics), 일본군 ‘위안부’ 문제의 진상 (Truth About the Japanese ‘comfort women’ Issue), Seoul: 역사비평사, 2000.
윤정옥 (Yoon, Jeong Ok), 1991, 정신대, 무엇이 문제인가? (Comfort Women, What Is the Problem?), 정대협 (Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan), 정신대문제 자료집 1 (Comfort Women Source Book Vol. 1).
이상화 (Lee, Sang Hwa), 1997, 일본군 ‘위안부’의 귀국 후 삶의 경험 (Experience of Japanese ‘Comfort Women’s Life After the Return), pp. 249-271, in 한국정신대문제대책협의회 진상조사연구위원회 (Fact Finding Committee of Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan), 일본군 ‘위안부’ 문제의 진상 (Truth About the Japanese Army ‘Comfort Women’ Issue), Seoul: 역사비평사, 2000.
정진성 (Chung, Chin Sung), 1993, 일본군 위안부 정책의 형성과 변화 (The Formation and Change in Japanese Military Comfort Women Plan), 한일 공동세미나 자료집 (Korea-Japan Joint Seminar Source Book), 정대협 (Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan).
한국정신대문제대책협의회 (Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan), 1991, 정신대문제 자료집 1 (‘Comfort Women’ Issue Source Book Vol.1).
한국정신대문제대책협의회, 정신대연구회 (Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, Society for the Study of Comfort Women), 1993, 강제로 끌려간 조선인 군위안부들, (Conscripted Korean Military Sexual Slaves), 한울.
KCWD, 1991, Korean Women Drafted for Sexual Slavery by Japanese Imperial Army: Petition Against the Japanese Government (in English).
Kee, Yeji, The Historical Background for the ‘Comfort Women’ System; The Background in the Japanese Empire in Colonized Joseon (Korea), 2008. posted at WHKMLA, http://www.zum.de/whkmla/sp/sp10.html The New York Times (NYT).



First Draft . . Go to Teacher's Comment

I. Distribution of “Comfort Women” at the Time of Surrender

I.a. Number
            Japan declared unconditional surrender on August 15th of 1945. There is no official government statistic available on the exact number of “comfort women” at the time of surrender. It is often estimated that the total number of victims ranged from 50,000 to nearly a million. Yet, the most widely accepted approximation is 200,000 taking into account that there existed one “comfort woman” for at least each 30 soldiers and that nearly 6 million soldiers were sent during the Pacific War. (1)
            According to the testimonies or records by past Japanese and Allied Forces officers and the “comfort women”, “comfort women” were present in nearly everywhere Japanese military was deployed. On the day of surrender, there were approximately 5,472,400 Japanese soldiers scattered over Asia and Pacific islands. The distribution of Japanese military is described in the following table.

Table 1: Number of Japanese Soldiers Deployed in Each Region on October 15th, 1945
Region 1945.8.15 Number of surviving soldiers
Taiwan 128,100
Manchuria 664,000
Chinese Mainland (including Hong Kong) 1,055,700
Subtotal 1,847,800
Okinawa Main Island
Etc.
12,100
28,800
Okisawara Islands 15,000
Japanese Mainland 2,372,700
Subtotal 2,428,600
Southern Joseon 200,200
Northern Joseon 94,000
Subtotal 294,200
Sakhalin, Kuril Islands (including Aleutian Islands) 88,000
Subtotal 88,000
Mid-Pacific Islands 48,600
Philippines 97,300
French Indochina 90,400
Thailand 106,000
Burma (including India) 81,100
Malaysia, Singapore 84,800
Indonesia 105,600
New Guinea 30,200
Bismarck Islands 57,500
Solomon Islands 12,300
Subtotal 713,800
Total 5,472,400


            Along with the Japanese soldiers, “comfort women” were dispersed extensively in various regions by 1945. The number of “comfort women” in each region was commensurate with the number of Japanese soldiers. Except, Japanese mainland hosted relatively small number of “comfort women” since the Geishas mainly treated the soldiers there. According to Table 1, nearly 60% of Japanese military, disregarding those stationed at Japanese mainland, were in China and Manchuria. The other 40% were scattered in Joseon, Indochinese Peninsula, and Pacific Islands. Okinawa Islands and Okisawara Islands also had a small number of "comfort women" due to the small local Geisha population.

I.b. Distribution
            The distribution of “comfort houses” corresponds to the range of Japanese military. To prevent the spread of sexual diseases and stabilize the security, Japan installed “comfort houses” in most of their conquered regions. Again, the exact number and position of “comfort houses” cannot be verified due to Japanese government’s reluctance to release its documents. Yet, there are limited amount of official documents and the victims’ testimonies that provide some information on the distribution of “comfort houses”.

[ Figure 1: The Distribution of Japanese Military “Comfort Houses” ]

            Japanese military at the end of Pacific War can be divided into four groups. The Southern quarter took charge of Philippine, Malaysia, Thailand, Borneo Islands, Burma, and etc.. The Chinese quarter, Manchurian quarter, and Japanese quarter each ruled its assigned region. Figure 1 demonstrates that the “comfort houses” were clustered in these four regions.

II. Courses of Action after the Surrender
            As soon as the news of Emperor’s surrender arrived, Japanese soldiers hastily returned to their homeland. Just like they did not know what was going on when they were drafted, the ‘comfort women’ were left unaware of the situation. Japanese government put much effort in bringing their citizens, whether military or civilian, back home. It carried out extensive return plan in which millions of Japanese people came home mostly via ships. Yet the “comfort women” were totally excluded from such procedure except for some unique cases where friendly Japanese soldiers took the victims with them. The managers of “comfort houses” left the women behind without notification too.

            “One day, all the Japanese soldiers disappeared. That’s when I figured out that Japan had lost the war.” (Park Mak Dal)
            “After the loss, the manager left in a car, and I figured out that Japan fell only after the other soldiers told me so.” (Yuk Young Ran)
            “Suddenly, the soldiers no longer came.” (Anonymous)
            “After Japan lost the war, the owners (of “comfort houses”) packed their belongings and fled away.” (Hong Kang Rim)

            Unable to speak the native languages of the region, the ‘comfort women’ were mostly ignorant of the ongoing situation. Moreover, the local people were often hostile toward the victims, labeling them as “prostitutes of Japanese soldiers.” (3)

            “After Japan’s surrender, I was wearing a Japanese cloth and the Chinese stoned me calling me a prostitute.” (Hong Ae Jin)
            “The Chinese people took away our clothes and beat us thinking we were Japanese. (...) I didn’t speak Chinese back then so I just trembled out of fear.” (Hong Kang Rim)
            “While I was getting out of there, the Chinese robbed me of my boxes with money, blanket, and clothes. They beat me hard with sticks.” (Jang Chun Wall)

            Before the surrender, the “comfort women” at least had a shelter and food. Now that they were thrown into an unknown environment with hostile locals, they were not even able to support their basic needs. Some begged or searched food from garbages. Some worked at restaurants or even brothels. Rarely, some leaned to few friendly inhabitants. In some cases like that of Wuhan, “comfort women” joined together to help each other; yet it did not provide themselves with practical solutions and most other regions did not see such reunion.
            The “comfort women” were usually ignorant of the situation in Korea and their chances of returning. Depending on their situations, some of them decided and managed to return home while others chose or happened to stay in foreign land.

II.a Those Who Remained
            Those who ended up staying abroad either chose to do so or had no choice at the first place.

II.a.1 Those Who Had No Choice
            Left alone in nowhere and struggling to survive, many of the “comfort women” could not afford to find their way home. They were often penniless and ignorant of their means to return home. After years of agony, they were mistrustful of people; they decided to stay wherever they were, fearing the world outside. According to the victims’ testimonies, some of their fellows committed suicide by jumping into rivers. Raised in a strong Confucian society, years of sexual violation would have uprooted themselves of self-respect.

            “Even though I wanted to go back, there was no way. I didn’t have money nor anyone who could help me out.” (Ji Do Ri)
            “I ended up staying there because I didn’t know what to do.” (Hong Kang Rim, Lee, Ji)

            There were some cases in which the “comfort women” attempted to return yet was halted by the political situation.

            “I tried to come home but was accused as a spy amid the confrontation between the Communist Party and the Nationalist Party.” (Jung Hak Soo)
            “I tried to return after the liberation but they told me at Chongjin that I couldn’t go further than 38th parallel. So I came back here again and lived here ever after.” (Cho Yoon Ok)

II.a.2 Those Who Chose to Stay
            Some “comfort women” lost the will to come back because they perceived themselves as polluted. They were pessimistic that their family would welcome them if they find out what had happened. At times, the “comfort women” had no family left at all. Korean men would obviously not marry to these women who had been dishonored by countless men. Especially when some local offered help, they chose not to take an adventure of going back to where they were uncertain of the future.

            “We ‘comfort women’ rejoiced when we heard the news of Japan’s loss. However, I thought my body was not supposed to touch my homeland again.” (Noh Soo Bok)
            “My parents and my brother all had passed away. (...) I had no money nor parents, why would I come home ?” (Im Geum Ah)
            “I was like an old orphan thrown away on street. At such situation, I couldn’t contact my home and my rippied-off self-respect and sense of humiliation took away my courage to come back.” (Jung Soo Jae)
            “I told them I was not going back to Joseon. I thought there was no use going back with this body.” (Ha Goon Ja)
            “I had no money left in hand, so I had no choice but to lean on somebody.” (Jang Choon Wall)
            “I wanted to go back to my motherland but the people scared me saying ‘if you go out now the they would traffic you again.’ I hesitated to leave. (...) Eventually I decided to just stay there because the world was so scary and fearsome.” (Jung Hak Soo)
            “I had no place to go and it was hard to make a living so I stayed in a brothel ran by a Chinese for a month or so.” (Hong Ae Jin)

            It must be noted that the “comfort women” felt extremely humiliated about themselves. Despite the fact that they were smuggled and raped contrary to their will, they blamed themselves and even referred themselves as whores. It is because the sexual slavery system took the format of the Japanese state-regulated prostitution in which the “comfort women” received coupons for their act. Thus, rather than solely blaming the Japanese soldiers and victimizing themselves, they perceived themselves to be filthy. Consequently, many of the victims, who were deeply imbued with Confucian ideology, suffered from confusion of self-identity, eventually leading them to commit suicide or give up returning home.

Notes
1 See Appendix for detailed calculation
2 Kang. p. 141
3 Koh. p. 224.
4 Ibid. p. 226.



Working Table of Contents . . Go to Teacher's Comment

I. Introduction
II. After the Surrender
II.1 Those who Returned
II.2 Those who Remained
III. Testimonies
II.1 Kim Hak Soon (1981)
III.2 Other Testimonies
III.3 Japanese
IV. Social Reaction
IV.1 Non-Governmental Organizations
IV.1.1 The Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan
IV.1.2 House of Sharing
IV.2 Governmental Support
IV.2.1 Ministry of Gender Equality
IV.3 Japan >BR> IV.3.1 Government position
IV.3.2 Asian Women’s Fund
IV.4 International Attention
IV.4.1 UN
IV.4.2 U.S.A.
IV.4..3 Europe
V. Conclusion

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Sample Chapter . . Go to Teacher's Comment

II. After the Surrender
            Japan declared unconditional surrender on August 15th of 1945. As soon as the news reached them, the Japanese soldiers hastily returned to their homeland. Just like they did not know what was going on when they were drafted, the “Comfort Women” were left unaware of the situation. The “Comfort Women” were widely dispersed in number of countries Japan had occupied including China, Burma, Singapore, Japan, and etc.

Name Location Parity Hoped to Return
Hong Gang Lim Shenyang, Shanghai, Nanjing, Changsha O O Dead
Hong Ae Jin Shanghai, Harbin, Wuhan O Dead
Lim Geum Ah Wuhan Mentally ill O Dead
Jang Choon Wall Hwanam Hubei Province, Wuhan Dead
Park Pil Yeon Tianjin, Wuhan O Dead
Park Mak Dhal Changsha O Dead
Jeong Hak Soo Harbin, Zaozhuang Shandong Province, Shijiazhuang, Linfen Shanxi Province, Wuhan, Hong Kong Died after return
Shenyang, Wuhan O
Nanjing, Wuhan O
Dongning O O
Ji Dol Yi Dongning O Died after return
Acheng Heilongjiang Province, Dongning O
Dongning Married a Korean Chinese O
Hunchun Jilin Province Hoped but gave up
Lee Ok Sun Jilin Married a Korean Chinese Returned
Tumen O Returned
Moom Myung Geum Sunwu Heilongjaing Province Married a Korean Chinese Returned
Changchun, Mudanjiang O O
Baotou Inner Mongolia O
(Present day Liaoning Province) O
Wuhan Died after 3 months Returned
Shenyang, Hankou Schizophrenia due to homesickness O
Jeong Soo Jae Hankou Wuhan Hubei Province O Died after return
Gang Myo Ran Died after return
Park Soon Ok (Chun Duk) Dezhou Shandong Province, Tangshan, Baoding Hebei Province O Dead
Park Geum Nyu Taiyuan Dead
Lee Bo Geum Dead
Lee Myo Soon Taiyuan Dead
Choi Jeong Ja Shanghai, Taiyuan, Manchuria Dead
Bae Bong Gi Dokashiki Okinawa Dead
Song Shin Do Wuchang
No Soo Bok Singapore, Malaysia
Lee Nam Yi (Hun) Singapore, Phnum Penh Cambodia O Went back to Cambodia after return
Qinyang Returned
35 in Total 9 returned /6 alive in Korea

II.1 : Those Who Remained
            Most of the “Comfort women” were not able to communicate with the natives. They were mostly penniless so that they could not find their way back home. Although these women had been as victimized as the natives themselves, the Chinese, Cambodians, or Burmese perceived them as “whores of the Japanese soldiers”, beating them up after the Japanese soldiers had abandoned them. The “Comfort women” were simply left in a foreign land, without money, among hostile people, and most of them suffering from the aftereffect of constant rape. Only did some Korean Chinese, drafted Korean soldiers, benevolent Chinese, and other “Comfort women” give hand to these miserable women.
            Although many of them had no option but to remain where they were, some could make a choice between returning home and remaining. But by 1948, South Korean “Comfort women” in China could no longer return home on foot and from 1949, when the Communist regime was established in China, no hope of returning was left due to the diplomatic break.



References . . Go to Teacher's Comment