Youth have a role in historic healing
I met a very special person. His name is Kim Won-dong, and he is the CEO of Asia Home Entertainment, a movie production company. He had read my Fountain contribution headlined “‘Sex slaves’ tragedy a story for Korean film” and sent me an e-mail. He was working on a movie about former “comfort women” that has been selected to receive production assistance from the Korea Creative Contents Agency.
He was passionate and driven but said the casting was not easy. Unlike documentaries, the movie focuses on personal aspects of comfort women. It will be a testament to the tragic life of one woman and the suffering passed down to her descendents.
He wants to cast a young and cheerful K-pop star as the heroine, but it has been a challenge as Japan is a major market.
According to Kyodo News, Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto said on Aug. 21 that there is no evidence “comfort women” were threatened or forcibly recruited. Yet, there is abundant evidence to prove forced sex slavery by imperial Japan. When Yohei Kono was chief cabinet secretary in 1993, he said the imperial Japanese Army established and ran “comfort stations” and had been directly and indirectly involved in the maintenance, coercive recruitment and retention of the women.
The Korean Central News Agency of North Korea reported that Tokyo court records and Confidential Document No. 118, found in the Ministry of Defense Archives, indicate the direct involvement of the emperor, government and military. YTN reported on Aug. 21 that the Commission on Verification and Support for the Victims of Forced Mobilization under Japanese Colonial Rule concluded a seven-year investigation and gathered more than 400,000 pieces of evidence, including testimonies of victims and witnesses, letters, and photographs.
Tomohiro Nakamura, a junior at Waseda University, participated in the International Youth Forum on Historical Reconciliation in East Asia. Last Thursday, he visited the House of Sharing and apologized as a citizen of Japan to Yi Ok-seon.
If a K-pop star with historical awareness can make the story known to the world, the young people of the two countries can do what the grown-ups have not been able to do for decades. They may someday be able to sincerely apologize and forgive. Making a movie is the best way to let the world know about the comfort women without creating diplomatic friction. It will earn international acclaim and impress audiences around the world, and it will be enough proof for Toru Hashimoto.
* The author is a guest columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Eom Eul-soon