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August 2014 E-Newsletter
August 29, 2014


Comfort Women: Who Are They?


comfort-women-luncheon(Photo: First row, from left, Ok-sun Lee and Il-chool Kang. Second row, from left, Dr. Yangnim Kurz)

We are taking a short break from our monthly Alumni Feature to introduce you to an urgent issue that the community should be aware of. We recently sat down with Dr. Yangnim Kurz, a retired physician, to learn more about the Comfort Women. 

K: How did you become interested in the Comfort Women issue?
Y: One day on the TV screen, there was an old face, deeply wrinkled and submerged in tears, but still talking. She seemed to be appealing to people, to strangers, and even to me—those who are outside of her world.  Her face looked so pitiful and heart-breaking; it brought tears to my eyes. What kind of misfortune had this old woman endured to be etched with such a desolate expression on her face?  Upon a closer look, I suddenly realized that it was the face of a Korean woman, just like mine! And, she was one of the few surviving Comfort Women.

K: Who are the Comfort Women?
Y: The Comfort Women are the 200,000 young Asian women, lured and abducted into sex slavery by Japanese Imperial soldiers from 1931 to 1945. And after Japan’s defeat in 1945, many of these women were massacred, abandoned to starve by their captors, or died from the abuses at the far-fronts of the Japanese occupied territories throughout East Asia. Some, like Ok-sun Lee and Il-chool Kang who I had the pleasure of meeting back in July 2014, however, survived and even returned home–now aged 85 to 90 years old–but of those who returned to Korea, only 54 remain. These women are the “Enforced Sex Slaves” as Hillary Clinton, according to Cho Sun Ilbo, directed her staff at the State Department to call them correctly, not as “Comfort Women”, which mystifies them as persons for comforting someone else’s distress or misfortune. “They were anything but a ‘comfort’ station,” recalled Ok-sun referring to the place she was taken to after being abducted. “Those places should rightfully be called ‘slaughter’ stations,” said Ok-sun, pointing to a scar left by a knife wound she received when a Japanese soldier tried to kill her after Japan’s surrender.


“Comfort Women” - Why Japan’s 200,000 WWII sex slaves matter today

Presented by the Reproductive Justice Task Force (RJTF) at the Unitarian Church of 
All Souls

“Comfort Women” is the euphemistic term for 200,000 female sex slaves forcibly abducted and abused by the Japanese imperial armed forces throughout Southeast Asia before and during World War II. Confined and raped up to 50 times a day by Japanese soldiers, many of these women died during their ordeal. A gross violation of human and women’s rights, the “Comfort Women” issue is yet to be resolved. Join us to learn its history and what you can do to advocate for these victims.

Schedule of Events:
Thursday, October 23, 2014
6:30 p.m. – Refreshments/View art exhibit
7:00-8:30 p.m. – Program
Unitarian Church of All Souls, 1157 Lexington Avenue (79th - 80th Streets)
Light refreshments will be offered.

Featured Guests:
Dr. Ok Cha Soh
Former President, Washington Coalition for Comfort Women’s Issues (WCCW)

Dr. Arthur Flug
Executive Director, Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives, Queensborough College

steve_cavalloMr. Steve Cavallo
Guest artist

This event is free and open to the public. All are Welcome!


What is HR121?


United States House of Representatives House Resolution 121 is a resolution agreed to on July 30, 2007. It asks that the Government of Japan formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Force's coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known to the world as "comfort women," during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II. 

To learn more, we invite you to join Dr. Ok Cha Soh, who wrote the statement for the HR121. 

Please RSVP Here.

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