‘Sex slaves’ tragedy a story for Korean film

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‘Sex slaves’ tragedy a story for Korean film


If you can’t leave your seat until the credits end, it was a great movie.

“The Flowers of War” is such a movie.

Sitting in the living room of my daughter’s home in San Francisco, I had high expectations for Zhang Yimou’s latest film.

The movie is set in December 1937 during the Rape of Nanjing. Japanese soldiers captured the Chinese city and massacred hundreds of thousands of civilians and raped and killed countless women.

Whenever a girl is spotted, the Japanese soldiers yell, “There’s a virgin!” and lunge for her. It reminded me of the “comfort women” portrayed on the MBC drama series “Eyes of Dawn” and director Byeon Yeong-ju’s documentary “The Murmuring.”

Forced sex slavery was so cruel and violent that some had to deal with 30 to 40 soldiers and were beaten or had their limbs cut off if they resisted.

Koreans have never forgotten that tragic part of their history, but many of us only felt sorry for the victims.

When I thought about how the old women in the documentary had been the young girls in the movie when they were victimized, I felt my blood boiling.

Japan claims that the “comfort women” were recruited to accompany soldiers to prevent rapes in occupied areas. Some women were abducted against their will, while others were deceived with job offers. How dare they say a 14-year-old girl had volunteered to become a “comfort woman?”

The sculpture in Seoul of a teenage girl representing “comfort women” made news when a Japanese activist planted a stake next to it. Protesters still assemble in front of the Japanese Embassy each Wednesday to denounce war crimes.

Will the Wednesday rallies continue when the former “comfort women” are gone? Will the case be pursued without victims and witnesses?

The Japanese are not budging because they may be waiting for attention to diminish.

Why don’t we make a movie? If a major production company is not willing to fund the movie, we can raise money from the people. There are Korean filmmakers as good as Zhang Yimou, and the Korean film industry has world-class technology and actors.

The UN Human Rights Commission now uses the term “Japanese sex slaves” instead of “comfort women.” The story of these Korean women is tormenting and tragic.

Let’s make a movie and aim for international film festivals. Spectacular scenes, a tear-jerking plot and talented acting by Korean stars in a made-in-Korea film would attract audiences around the world.

The author is a guest columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Eom Eul-soon
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