Memorial to comfort women unveiled
The memorial to the thousands of women drafted into sexual slavery by the Japanese military in World War II was built with the support of the Korean American Voters Council, a local nonprofit group.
The 1-square-meter stone monument features a plaque that reads: “In memory of the more than 200,000 women and girls who were abducted by the armed forces of the Government of Imperial Japan, 1930s-1945. Known as ‘comfort women,’ they endured human rights violations that no peoples should leave unrecognized. Let us never forget the horrors of crimes against humanity.”
It was designed by Steve Cavallo, an artist and the art coordinator for the Palisades Park Public Library.
Cavallo became interested in the issue after hearing about it from a Korean friend in 1991. After his watercolor series on war that included the comfort women gained attention last year, he was invited to spend a week at The House of Sharing, a shelter outside Seoul for the surviving victims.
Later, he met a group of Korean teenagers - summer interns working for the KAVC - who were at the library conducting a signature campaign for the memorial’s construction. Moved by their hard work, Cavallo volunteered to work on the project himself.
“There are many memorials in the United States for remembering the Holocaust,” Cavallo said. “This memorial should be set up while these women are still alive and able to testify to the atrocities committed by the Japanese soldiers.”
About 100 people attended the unveiling ceremony.
Kim Dong-chan, the director of KAVC, spoke at the event.
“In 2007, our grassroots movement of Korean-Americans helped get the resolution on comfort women to pass in the House [of Representatives],” Kim said. “But because the Japanese have continued to ignore it, the issue has been in danger of being forgotten.”
Kim said he hoped the memorial would ensure that the women are remembered.
The KAVC plans to install 20 memorials in areas with large Korean populations in the United States, including Flushing, Queens, in New York, and Orange County in Los Angeles.
By Jung Kyung-min [firstname.lastname@example.org]