ATROCITY ACKNOWLEDGED. Former World War II "comfort woman"
Yongsoo Lee, 89, of South Korea, stands by a statue of Haksoon
Kim while looking at the "Comfort Women" monument after it was
unveiled in San Francisco. The monument was dedicated to the
young female victims of Japanese military sexual slavery from
1932 until the end of World War II in 1945. Haksoon Kim was the
first to break the silence about "comfort women" in 1991. (AP
From The Asian Reporter, V27, #19 (October 2, 2017),
San Francisco unveils memorial to WWII
By Ellen Knickmeyer
The Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO — Now 89, former World War II "comfort woman"
Yongsoo Lee clutched a microphone in one hand at a park outside
San Francisco’s Chinatown, thrust her other clenched fist in the
air, and made a vow.
Lee, abducted from her Korean homeland at age 15 and forced
into working in brothels servicing Japanese soldiers, was
speaking at the dedication of the latest of dozens of statues
put up around the world, commemorating the ordeal of thousands
of women like her in territory held by the Japanese army before
and during World War II.
Japan has not gone far enough in apologizing, and the statues
memorializing those the Japanese army called "comfort women" for
their soldiers will keep going up, Lee, her frame bent in
traditional green and pink Korean robes, told scores at the
"And at the end, we will have a memorial in Tokyo. So they
can say, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry,’ when they pass by," said Lee,
who came from South Korea for the ceremony, as she has for at
least four other such dedications in the United States alone.
Historians say tens of thousands of women, and perhaps
hundreds of thousands, were seized in Asian territories under
Japanese military control and made to work in military brothels.
The issue has remained an open rift between Japan and other
Asian nations. Surviving comfort women and their supporters
rejected a 2015 statement from Japan expressing "apologies and
remorse," saying it did not go far enough in acknowledging what
they say was the Japanese government’s responsibility.
"If Japan does not like" the continued focus on comfort
women, Lee told the crowd, through a translator, "Japan must
The South Korean and Japanese foreign ministers, meeting in
New York, agreed to work together to resolve their countries’
lingering differences over the episode, according to Japan’s
Kyodo news agency.
No more than a few dozen of the comfort women remain alive,
said retired San Francisco judge Lillian Sing, who was a leader
in the effort by California’s Korean, Chinese, and Filipino
communities to commission and put up the statue in a park on the
edge of San Francisco’s Chinatown.
"What these grandmas did was change the way the world looked
at sex trafficking," Sing told the state and local dignitaries
and others in the audience.