April 29, 2016

"The Comfort Women" by Professor C. Sarah Soh


Professor Chunghee Sarah Soh was born in South Korea and graduated from Sogang University. She then moved to the United States and received her Ph.D. in anthropology from University of Hawaii. She is a professor of anthropology at San Francisco State University.

Professor Chunghee Sarah Soh


Professor Chunghee Sarah Soh's book "The Comfort Women" is available on Amazon: http://goo.gl/fHi1Cp

You can read the first part of her book on Google Books: https://goo.gl/EfnGVX

Here is an excellent review of the book: http://goo.gl/cwda3E

In this book Professor Soh accuses the pro-North activist group "Korean Council" (also known as Chong Dae Hyup 정대협 挺対協) for spreading the North Korean propaganda to block reconciliation between Japan and South Korea. Contrary to common belief, most Korean women were sold by their parents to Korean businessmen who owned and operated comfort stations. The Korean women were not the sex slaves of the Japanese military. Professor Soh insists that Korean society must repudiate victimization, admit its complicity and accept that the system was not criminal.


The following is an excerpt from her book "The Comfort Women." (Pages 10 - 11)

 

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In an interview with Professor Chunghee Sarah Soh of San Francisco State University, a former Korean comfort woman Kim Sun-ok said that she was sold by her parents four times.

Yet she testified before UN Special Rapporteur Radhika Coomaraswamy that she was abducted by the Japanese military.

Kim Sun-ok

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A former Korean comfort woman Mun Oku-chu said in her memoir:

"I was recruited by a Korean comfort station owner. I saved a considerable amount of money from tips, so I opened a saving account. I could not believe that I could have so much money in my saving account. One of my friends collected many jewels, so I went and bought a diamond.  I often went to see Japanese movies and Kabuki plays in which players came from the mainland Japan. I became a popular woman in Rangoon. There were a lot more officers in Rangoon than near the frontlines, so I was invited to many parties. I sang songs at parties and received lots of tips. I put on a pair of high heels, a green coat and carried an alligator leather handbag. I swaggered about in a fashionable dress. No one in town could guess that I was a comfort woman. I felt very happy and proud. I received permission to return home, but I didn't want to go back to Korea. I wanted to stay in Rangoon."

According to Professor Ahn Byong Jik of Seoul University, Mun Oku-chu continued to work as a prostitute in Korea after the war.

Yet she testified before UN Special Rapporteur Radhika Coomaraswamy that she was abducted by the Japanese military.

Mun Ok-chu

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In an interview with Korean newspaper The Hankyoreh (the artcile was published on May 15th, 1991)  a former Korean comfort woman Kim Hak-sun said that she was sold by her mother.

In 1993 Kim Hak-sun told Professor Ahn Byong Jik of Seoul University, "My mother sent me to train as a Geisha (Kiseng 기생) in Pyongyang and then sold me."

Yet she testified before UN Special Rapporteur Radhika Coomaraswamy that she was abducted by the Japanese military.

Kim Hak-sun

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In 1993 a former Korean comfort woman Kim Gun-ja told Professor Ahn Byong Jik of Seoul University, "I was sold by my foster father."

Yet she testified before UN Special Rapporteur Radhika Coomaraswamy that she was abducted by the Japanese military.

Kim Gun-ja also testified before United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs in 2007 and said she was abducted by the Japanese military.

Kim Gun-ja

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In 1993 a former Korean comfort woman Lee Yong-soo told Professor Ahn Byong Jik of Seoul University, "At the time I was shabbily dressed and wretched. On the day I left home with my friend Kim Pun-sun without telling my mother, I was wearing a black skirt, a cotton shirt and wooden clogs on my feet. You don't know how pleased I was when I received a red dress and a pair of leather shoes from a Korean recruiter."

Yet she testified before UN Special Rapporteur Radhika Coomaraswamy that she was abducted by the Japanese military.

Lee Yong-soo also testified before United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs in 2007. She was told that she had five minutes to speak. She ignored the instruction and went on for over one hour putting on a performance of crying and screaming. Her false testimony resulted in the passage of United States House of Representatives House Resolution 121.

Lee Yong-soo

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According to Professor Chunghee Sarah Soh of San Francisco State University, a former Korean comfort woman Moon Pil-ki was recruited by a Korean comfort station owner's agent and taken to Manchuria with four other women.

Yet she testified before UN Special Rapporteur Radhika Coomaraswamy that she was abducted by the Japanese military.

Moon Pil-ki

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In 1993 a former Korean comfort woman Kil Won-ok told Professor Ahn Byong Jik of Seoul University, "I was sold by my parents."

Yet she testified before UN Special Rapporteur Radhika Coomaraswamy that she was abducted by the Japanese military.

Kil Won-ok

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According to several witnesses, Chong Dae Hyup (pro-North activist group) coached women to say "I was abducted by the Japanese military."

Professor Ahn Byong Jik of Seoul University says, "When I interviewed former comfort women in the early 1990s, none of them had anything bad to say about the Japanese military. They hated their parents who sold them and Korean comfort station owners who mistreated them. But after Chong Dae Hyup put them on its payroll, their testimonies had completely changed and blamed the Japanese."

Lying to gain advantage has been part of Korean culture for centuries: goo.gl/xhpDlm


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A former Korean comfort woman Sim Mi-ja who refused to be on Chong Dae Hyup's payroll said, "The Korean women, who testified before UN Special Rapporteur, lied on behalf of Chong Dae Hyup. They are swindlers"

Sim Mi-ja

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In an interview with Professor Park Yuha of Sejong University in South Korea, a former Korean comfort woman Bae Chun-hee said she hated her father who sold her. She said that men who recruited Korean women and operated comfort stations were all Korean, and that Korean women who testified the Japanese military abducted them were lying.

Bae Chun-hee

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In wars, soldiers sometimes rape innocent women. To prevent this from happening, the Japanese military asked businessmen to recruit prostitutes and operate comfort stations (brothels). The following is the order the Japanese military sent to comfort station operators. It says "Do not recruit women against thier will. Only recruit willing prostitutes." Japanese businessmen followed the order and only recruited willing women in Japan. But Korean businessmen recruited both willing prostitutes and unwilling women in Korea. This is why some of former Korean comfort women are still unhappy while we hear little or no complaint from former Japanese comfort women. If Korean comfort station owners had followed the Japanese military's order, there wouldn't have been any comfort women issue.



The Japanese military was partly guilty because its invasion into China and Southeast Asia did create the demand for comfort women. But the Korean narrative -- the Japanese military showed up at the doors and abducted young Korean women -- just didn't happen. The Korean businessmen (comfort station owners) capitalized on the demand, recruited Korean women, operated comfort stations and made lots of money. Japan has apologized for its part. South Korea should admit its complicity and stop demanding Japan for more apologies.


2 comments:

  1. This is a very interesting blog. I am Korean. Although this blog downplays Japanese atrocities and other war crimes, and at several points justifies Japanese actions by comparing them to crimes in other countries (e.g. Poland, Vietnam, etc.), it does present certain views and information that is not well known in Korea or the West. There has been a lot of false information about Japan's actions during the Korean occupation and WWII. The reality is far more complex and nuanced. However most Koreans have been thoroughly indoctrinated with anti-Japanese propaganda. The historical truth is probably somewhere in-between the Korean version and the version presented on this blog. Maybe the truth is even a bit closer to this blog. Unfortunately I don't think Koreans will change their views anytime soon. Koreans are a very proud people. They are not like the Taiwanese, or the Okinawans. Koreans feel deeply humiliated by the actions of a country that they do not consider to be historically superior to them. (The same with the Chinese.)

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    Replies
    1. I like ur reply, is very understanding.
      That subject is trully complex, war is never pretty or epic like movies enjoy portraiting, the reality of it is ugly, a lot of suffer for victims and for some of the soldiers that are forced to be there. To be very fair, every single country has something to hide, when people use the force to achieve what they want, many lose control and become beasts. My country don't have many war history, but when we had coup d'état here, there were lot of sad stories to tell, abuse, torture, rape and murder. The reality is, in extreme situations we see the ugly side of people and all countries can face that.

      Everytime I read about war related stuff, I can't avoid to place myself in everybody's shoes and imagine how horrible must have being. That's why I hope, people won't use confrontations as solution anymore for problems.

      I can only hope for that.

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