On Monday, July 29th, the Simon Wiesenthal Center is hosting human rights activist, Kim Bok-Dong at the Museum of Tolerance. The 87-year-old Kim is one of the few surviving Korean “comfort women”: women and girls forced into sexual slavery by Imperial Japan during World War II. Her story delineates a harrowing experience of countless sexual assaults beginning at the age of 14. Exacerbating the pain of her experience is years of shame and secrecy in her personal life alongside denial and avoidance from the Japanese government.
Kim’s talk will cover the history of these atrocities and the ongoing struggle to deliver historical accuracy and justice for the over 200,000 victims of these crimes. Her voice is especially pertinent now in light of Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto recent public statements defending the practice of forced sexual slavery in wartime.
Kim’s effort to advocate for herself and other victims is, in part, driven by the fact that very few survivors remain. Kim’s hope is to see to it that “the Japanese government resolves the problem as soon as possible while we elderly women are still alive.” Meanwhile, some suspect the Japanese government is hoping that, as the victims die off, the issue will also be forgotten.
However, as described by psychologist Miyoung Yoon Hammer, an intergenerational transmission process occurs within families and cultures, making traumas of one generation pertinent to the next. Yoon Hammer comments that: “Legacies are transmitted from one generation to the next. Legacies are not always explicitly passed down, but instead can be done at an unconscious level.”
There is no charge to attend the Kim Bok-Dong event, but RSVPs are required. RESERVE YOUR TICKETS HERE.
Read more about Kim Bok-Dong and the Comfort Women issue at AP: The Big Story.