• Comfort Women
  • Stories Making History

“Never in My Wildest Dreams”

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  • Year
  • Age
  • Contents
  • 1920
  •  
  • Born in Muan County, South Jeolla Province
  • 1935
  • (Age 15)
  • Lured to Pyongyang with the false promise of work
    Forced into sexual slavery in China (Haicheng, Shanghai, and Harbin) by the Japanese military
  • c. 1943
  • (Age 23)
  • Settled in Harbin (northeastern China) with a man from Boseong County (South Jeolla Province)
  • 1945
  • (Age 25)
  • Returned to Haenam County, South Jeolla Province with her partner
  • c. 1947
  • (Age 27)
  • Married to a Mr. Park in Haenam County
  • 1953
  • (Age 33)
  • Gave birth to a son
  • c. 1955
  • (Age 35)
  • Sustained livelihood via shamanism business
    Husband passed away
  • 1958
  • (Age 38)
  • Gave birth to a daughter with shaman partner
  • 1962
  • (Age 43)
  • Daughter passed away
  • 2004
  • (Age 84)
  • Living in Haenam County with son and grandchildren
Haenam County→ Pyongyang→ Haeseong→ Harbin→ Haenam
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“Whenever I think about the past, I lie wide awake at night wondering how I even made it out. I’m very fortunate to have survived the ordeal.
It seemed like I was being transported around on a daily basis. Sometimes I was taken to such distant locations that I wouldn’t even know where I was. One time, I ended up in a snowy place in [the eleventh month of the lunar year]. Back then, soldiers wore yellow fatigues and hats that stood out in the white snow. The soldiers would train so intensely in the snow. I didn’t know back then. They never told me I was going to a [comfort station]. They told me that I would go to work in a factory in Japan, so I agreed and followed. When I got there, I saw so many soldiers training in the bright white snow. There were so many soldiers. And not just in one spot. I saw an endless sea of soldiers wherever I went.
I remember thinking to myself, ‘It’s freezing cold out there. It must be so cold in the snow.’ Never in my wildest dreams did I think that all those soldiers would come to me.”

Silk Factory

I saw countless girls. I naturally assumed all the women were workers in the silk factory.

“[In Korea,] our family would receive offers for arranged marriages. There were always offers for me to marry as a concubine to a man whose first wife wasn’t able to bear children.
People usually asked for marriage around the time girls reached the age of sixteen. My parents wanted me to marry as a concubine, but I always refused. I was always stubborn. I would rather die of starvation than suffer and live my life as someone’s concubine
I told my parents that I would never be a concubine and that I would marry when a proper suitor appeared.
One day, out of the blue, three men came to our house. One was a mustachioed Japanese man dressed in a fine black suit and hat. He was wearing a bright white shirt and a bow tie. Two of them were Koreans wearing hanbok (traditional Korean attire). People still wore hanbok at the time. One person was a translator, and the other was a village foreman.
Anyway, these men proceeded to tell me that if I went to work at a silk factory in Japan, I would be able to make lots of money and live comfortably in a beautiful area. Then I would be able to provide for my parents so that they could buy plots of land for farming.
It sounded pretty tempting, listening to them speak. Since my family was poor, I could work in a silk factory in Japan and help my parents by sending them money.
But I thought I wouldn’t make it in a place like that. Who was I to go there? I didn’t even speak any Japanese. I hesitated since I wasn’t sure.
I told my parents that I didn’t have the confidence to go to Japan. I remember that my father said, ‘Just go see it with your own eyes. You just watch and learn. No one’s born knowing everything.’ He told me to go and learn a skill and earn money instead of sitting at home doing nothing. He said some hurtful things to me.
After hearing my father say such things I told him [out of anger and guilt] that I would go and work in Japan even if it killed me. I remember other Koreans said similar things about their families. None of the Japanese people spoke a word [on the trip], however.
I was fifteen years old at the time.
They told me that I would go to Japan, but I ended up in Pyongyang.
I saw countless girls. I naturally assumed all the girls were workers in the silk factory. But not once did they instruct us to weave silk. I wondered to myself why no one was instructing us to weave silk.
I observed many men come in who were whisked away by girls. Of course, I soon realized that something was off about this factory.
Men would come in and cavort with the girls. I had a gut feeling then and there that the place wasn’t a factory. I remember crying day and night afterwards. I begged them to send somewhere else. Somewhere far. Anywhere.
I told them that I didn’t want to be where Koreans were.
They eventually sent me somewhere far, to Haicheng, in China.”

First Customers

I received seven men the day I lost my virginity.

Someone told me one day that I received a permit. ‘What permit?’ I asked. He told me that they made contact with my parents back home in Jeolla Province and received permission from them. The authorities issued a permit so that I may receive customers.
Since there were so many girls there, I didn’t think that each girl would have to receive so many soldiers. I wondered if they specifically came to me because I was new, or if they just didn’t want to see the other girls. It was insane. As soon as one soldier was finished and out the door, another would be knocking. Some would yell for the others to hurry up. I remember people speaking indistinguishable Japanese outside the door. Some person told me that I had to wash Their [genitals]. I was already struggling, and they wanted me to wash Their privates. People would bang on the door to hurry – what was I supposed to wash Their privates with in between receiving men? I told them, in Korean, that I didn’t know what to do, but all I got was a lot of grumbling.
[The eleventh month of the lunar year] is extremely cold and snowy. The snow never seemed to stop. When they told me to wash, I had no choice but to comply and then apply medicine. I would cry from the pain, and the soldiers would ask me why I would ruin the mood by crying.
I was lonely. I couldn’t even speak to anyone, because I didn’t speak Japanese. If the men were Korean, at least I could tell them how I felt. But I couldn’t even do that.
I was young, and this was my first [sexual encounter]. If I had had any experience maybe it would have been a little better. This was a new experience for me, but I had to receive countless men. I was in such pain that I was hospitalized at one point.
I received seven men the day I lost my virginity. That was my first-time experience.
I should have married as a concubine when I had the chance. Had [my parents] told me to stay, I could have married a bachelor, or if that wasn’t possible, I could have been someone’s concubine. Then I wouldn’t have experienced any of that.”

Dreaded Sundays

My heart would pound whenever Sundays came around.

Each customer would wear a satku (condom), like a rubber glove. If the condom didn’t break, I would go to a washing station[note 001]and wash myself in a bathtub. Then I would apply white, gel-like medicine [on my genitals] and come back. If a condom broke, I would wash myself in warm water in the washing station and apply medicine. That way, the next customer wouldn’t be offended. If I didn’t wash, the customers would be angry then leave and take his money back. So they made sure the girls washed themselves. We were trapped with no say-so in anything. We had no choice but to do as we were told.
My heart would pound whenever Sundays came around. It still pounds when I think about back then.
Every Sunday, tens of thousands of soldiers were let out [on leave]. One station wasn’t enough. There were lots of stations. This brothel and that brothel. Still, they let so many soldiers out that we received an endless amount of men. I received twenty-seven men in one day – just under thirty.
On those Sundays, far-reaching lines of men would be outside the door. They would come in, still wearing their shoes, with just condoms on and leave after having sex. At least the men who finished quickly made it somewhat bearable. Some would come in completely drunk and impotent, while others just seemed crazy. Some men would be whining and banging on the doors to hurry. One man would be leaving while another came in. One would be getting dressed while another undressed. Those were the worst days.
Dear me … . It was endless suffering. But I’m still alive, and now I can talk about it. It still feels like a dream, though. One day I received seventeen men, and I was completely dazed. Some customer even asked me if I had been drinking. I told him that I couldn’t drink. Back then I hadn’t had a drop of alcohol. But I still had terrible headaches that felt like I had been drinking.
Even if I was about to pass out from being in a daze, the men would still do as they pleased – they only cared about themselves. Those were horrible times.
After receiving lots of customers, my back hurt and my stomach felt like it was on fire. It felt like my lower abdomen would explode at any moment. [Men with short penises] were somewhat bearable. Short and chubby ones [penises] were bearable, but long and skinny [penises] were painful. One [man’s penis] was particularly long and extremely painful. I had to apply ice [to relieve the swelling].
They told me that I had to get better before the next Sunday, so I had to apply ice to my crotch using [a device] that was like a mesh dome people used to keep mosquitoes away. Something like that. It would fix ice onto the crotch, and the ice would melt after a certain amount of time. After a while, the crotch area would be so numb that I wouldn’t feel anything. We had to keep that on all day until it fully melted. The pain would subside for a few days after that. It would hurt again after receiving a customer [with a large penis].”

All Working Together

Everyone at the hospital, all the soldiers and their superiors, and even people in law enforcement – they were all working together with the owners.

“The owner (procurer) fed us at every meal, and I didn’t have to do the laundry or any chores. But the owner wanted me to learn their customs. That was a little tiresome.
The larger brothels had about twenty girls, and the rest had about fifteen to seventeen. The smaller ones had about thirteen girls. There were Japanese brothels, too. They only had Japanese girls. And the Korean brothels only had Korean girls. There was a Chinese restaurant, too.
High-ranking soldiers and the general population came during the day. Not very many people came in the day.
The men referred to us as ‘brides.’ Not only that. Our names were written for everyone to see. There was a sign in a large room that had everyone’s names on it. The men would ask for the girls they wanted by the names on the sign. They would ask for Sadako, Jeong-ja, or whomever.
I went by the name Maeng-ok. My Japanese name was Sadako. My name is Jeom-yeop Gong. But they gave me the name Maeng-ok while I was there.
If I was with a customer and I told someone to wait, he would stand outside and wait. The men would just wait in a line outside the door. They could have gone to any other girl, but if they came looking for me, they would wait.
When the soldiers were let out [on leave] the Japanese officers would provide provisions. The soldiers would receive condoms and vouchers[note 002] – these stamps that indicated a period of time like thirty minutes or fifty minutes. The soldiers would bring vouchers [for payment].
Soldiers probably would have paid about ₩5,000 if they paid in cash. They were cheaper [than the general public]. Civilians paid about ₩10,000, and soldiers would have paid about half that. The men paid with vouchers, and no one said a word – not the chōba[note 003] or the owner.
That was the payment method. Then the owner would exchange the vouchers for cash.
Some place like a bank would exchange them for money. But I’ve personally never been to one. The owner would do that – none of the women were allowed to exchange the vouchers.
We called those days ‘soldier days’ when the men were let out on leave. The soldiers didn’t like to mingle with civilians [at the brothel]. We weren’t allowed to receive civilian customers on those days. Those were Sundays – the ‘soldier days.’ There was a lot of money being exchanged on those days. Even if they were cheaper, there were so many of them.
The soldiers wouldn’t have been able to visit the brothels without the owners’ prior knowledge. All the brothels and their owners had prior knowledge since they operated under the law. If there was any trouble at a brothel, police would show up to handle the matters. Everyone at the hospital, all the soldiers and their superiors, and even people in law enforcement – they were all working together with the owners. The government issued the permits for the establishments to receive customers.
Since women who contracted syphilis could no longer receive customers, [the owner] would call the hospital and have them taken away. The hospital would treat the sick women for about three or four days. How would they do that without some sort of prior agreement?

Rat Poison

The situation was so bad that I even ate rat poison and tried to hang myself.

“Whenever I was ill, I received [morphine] shots from small, yellow vials. I would receive a shot and some pills. Everything felt at ease after receiving one of those shots.
I developed lumps due to syphilis, but not on my genitals.
The lumps developed near the groin. They were about the size of a fist.
They were near the groin. I still have surgical scars near the groin [above the thighs] from removing the lumps. I have one on each side [of the groin].[note 004]It was very painful. Nothing worked to relieve the pain – not shots, not pills…Number 606 (arsphenamine, also known as Salvarsan) – that was the most powerful, and expensive, medicine at the time.
[The doctors] would make incisions on the lumps. They would pour that medicine into the incisions, and the pain would be absolutely unbearable. I thought I was going to die. The lumps would turn blue. It burned intensely when [the doctors] disinfected the areas.
The other girls would tell me that receiving surgical treatment was good for me. The ones who didn’t receive treatment got syphilitic sores on their genitals. Small sores would appear all over the genitals. They were red with grain-like things inside. It was horrific. It would be too painful to receive customers.
The surgical wounds had to completely heal before I could receive customers again. It took about a month to heal completely. All those days I couldn’t work would be recorded as debt that I would have to work off. I cried my eyes out at the hospital. No one bothered to nurse me.
There were a lot of women who were admitted to the hospital after being beaten for trying to run away. That didn’t stop the men still wanting service regardless of the women being in pain. The situation was so bad that I even ate rat poison and tried to hang myself. It was too unbearable. I wanted a way out.
I bought some rat poison to kill myself. I opened the top and squeezed the tube, and a red paste came out like toothpaste. I don’t know how many times I cried and cried trying to work up the courage.
It had been about two years working [at the brothel] and earning money for the owner, but he never sent any money to my parents. He told me that I still had much more work to do just to pay off my debt. If those bad days came just once a month, maybe I could bear it. But those four Sundays a month were too much to bear, and so I tried to kill myself with rat poison.
The poison was extremely painful. Someone who was awake must have heard me falling and passing out. One of the women in the comfort station found me dying on the ground and alerted the owner. She sneered at the owner saying that he made an innocent woman try to kill herself. An ambulance came and took me to the hospital where they induced vomiting, gave me shots, and had me recover. I was brought back to the brothel, and the owner made me continue working to pay off the remainder of my debt.
If that person hadn’t found me…if they hadn’t taken me to the hospital that night, I surely would have died.”

First Love

I just loved him so dearly.

“There was one nice man.
He was a smart fellow assigned to manufacturing duties for firearms and such. He was from Boseong [in South Jeolla Province] and the same age as me.
The man never tried to sleep with the women whenever he was at the brothel. He would come by once in a while but never sleep with me. I thought maybe he was impotent, but he told me that he wasn’t. The other women told me to be careful, because men like him might have diseases. They said that I should sleep with him only as a customer and be careful about any long-term relationships. I saw him over the course of three years, but not once did he try to sleep with me.
He worked in a big company in Harbin [in China], so I went there to be together with him. A close friend of mine told me that Harbin was a nice place with lots of customers, money, and other women just like me. So I went to Harbin.
‘I want to go. Let me go [to Harbin],’ I told the owner. I guess he felt that I had earned them enough money, because if I hadn’t, they certainly would have prevented me from leaving. So I received permission from [the procurers], went to other areas, and got permits to work again.
I was in Haicheng for two years and in Harbin for one year. And I spent six months in Shanghai. I was in China for many years.
[My love interest] in Harbin helped me pay off my debt [to my procurer], and we started living together afterwards.
We lived together, without sleeping with each other, for three years while I still worked [as a prostitute] and another three years afterwards. We lived together for six years.
I just loved him so dearly.
But I never got pregnant. I wasn’t being properly treated for my illnesses. Of course, I couldn’t become pregnant. I was too ill to be able to have a baby.
[My partner] would ask [rhetorically] when we would earn enough money to properly restore my health. He’d say that I had been through enough suffering. I loved him with all my heart. He treated me so well. No one ever treated me that well.
He was my first love.
I can’t forget him. I’ll always remember him. And he told me that I was his first love, too. He had never even courted another woman before.”

Farewell

I told him to live a better life without me. And that’s exactly what he did.

“After about two years of living together [with my partner], we were able to leave China.
We packed all of our belongings in a cart and left China, but we were robbed by Chinese bandits. We lost everything. Fortunately, we were unharmed, as it was common for bandits to rob and kill their victims. I was so distraught and angry after being robbed that I cried all night until my eyes swelled up. My eyes were nearly sealed shut from the swelling. So then [my partner] tied us together with a twine around our waists [so that we wouldn’t lose each other in the darkness] and told me to follow him. That’s how we crossed the line[note 006] into Korea.
We lost everything coming back to Korea. We had absolutely nothing.
Back home, my family had moved. I didn’t know where they went, and I didn’t know anyone. But I remembered that Masan [note 007]was where my uncle used to live. So I went to look for him.
If my uncle had at least given us a sack of rice or barley, we would have been able to start a business – maybe sell pickled fish with that money [from selling the grains]. Then we could have paid him back and started a living on our own. But my uncle wouldn’t even do that for us. He scoffed at us and said we’d never be able to pay him back.
My uncle treated us like beggars. [My partner] then concocted a plan. His plan was to sneak into my uncle’s storehouse late at night and steal a sack of rice so that we could sell it to start a business. Then we’d pay back my uncle and apologize when we were on our feet. That’s what we should have done … . That’s what we should have done … . But I had never lied or stolen anything before in my life. So I said that I could never do that. [My partner] asked me if I wouldn’t do it even if it meant that we would go our separate ways. I told him that if that’s truly what he wanted to do, he would have to do it by himself.
I told him he should go off on his own – to leave me and forget me. ‘If you stay with me, your life will be ruined. I can’t even have your baby,’ I said. I told him to live a better life without me. And that’s exactly what he did.”

Old Man

He was twenty years my senior. So he looked like a grandfather.

“An old lady in the neighborhood introduced me to a man. She said he was a farmhand who did nothing but work. He was old, but he worked, so I should live with him. The man was much older than me. He was twenty years my senior. So he looked like a grandfather.
The old lady, the matchmaker, graciously provided me with a cauldron, two bowls, two spoons, and a blanket, and [the old man] and I began living together. Since the old man was a farmhand, he was paid annually for working three [acres] of the owner’s farmland. But his wages weren’t enough for two people, so [the land owner] gave us a sack of rice, too. [The land owner] also provided us with a cartful of firewood with the sack of rice. We lived in a tiny shack attached to the main house [of the land owner].
We didn’t even have a wedding ceremony.
After some time, my first love came looking for me.
He asked me to be with him once more, but I had just started my life with someone else. How could I possibly leave him now for someone else?
Back in China, it was easy to be with [my first love]. It was natural. But now, I was someone’s wife in a family even if it had only been a short time.
He told me that he hadn’t married – that he wished to marry me and have a child. But I said it was impossible for me to bear any children. I can’t just turn someone’s life upside down like that. I told him all about my current circumstances. ‘We can’t just live on attachment alone,’ I said. If that was possible, I’d never want to be separated from him again, but I just didn’t have the courage to go through it again. And I was constantly ill. I was physically ill and emotionally drained. [My genitals] had become so damaged by that time that intercourse was impossible. No amount of ice treatment helped. I told him everything. I told him he should do his best to forget me, marry someone better, and live his life.
[My former lover] didn’t want to hear any of that.
He said that he didn’t care if we were poor or if we didn’t have any children. ‘We could adopt a child if we wanted,’ he said. He cried and pleaded for me to be with him. But it just couldn’t happen. We had to go our separate ways, and so much time has passed since then.
We said that we’d be together no matter what as we were struggling to return to Korea. I said that I would spend the rest of my life with him, but we just had to go our own ways.
I’ve always regretted my decision. I still think of [my first love] whenever I’m troubled.
I heard some time later that he was doing well. I was happy for him even though I wasn’t [doing as well]. If I hadn’t been able to have a child, I probably would have been crying day and night. But at least I eventually had [my son].
At least I have someone to call me ‘mother.’ If I never had a child … who would call me ‘mother’?

Shamanism

I perform prayers.

“I thought that I would never have a child. But after meeting my husband in Korea, I ate [the meat of] five goats [as medicine]. That really helped me recover into a person of good health.
My vision improved, menstrual pains were bearable, and general acute pains subsided. I eventually became pregnant. That wouldn’t have been possible [without the medicine].
But it did take a long time. I was thirty-three years old when I became pregnant.
When my baby son was two years old, my husband passed away at the age of fifty-five.
He hadn’t even reached his sixtieth birthday. My husband developed serious health problems, because all he did was work. He never had the respite he really needed to take care of himself. I couldn’t work [as a prostitute] or panhandle for money. If I could have worked as a housemaid, I would have, but I had no experience with that. All my life I never had any experience doing actual work. I eventually learned about shamanism. My mother and father both practiced shamanism, so I did know a little something. So I studied shamanism and practice it to this day.
I studied for a few months.
You really have to study for a few years to practice [shamanism]. I’d have to wear a hat and wear a robe like a monk. Read a great deal of sutras … . I’d read sutras in the mountains or read them at birthday ceremonies for babies. There was a great deal of material to study. I didn’t learn everything, but I did pay a lot of money to learn what I could. I’d open up books day and night, take notes, and study shamanism. I learned everything that I possibly could.
I’m not a fortune-teller – I’m a shaman. A learned shaman. I’m a shaman that performs exorcisms. So everyone in the neighborhood knows me. That’s right. I’ve been [in this area] for over twenty years. When a person becomes a shaman, a village pays a certain compensation to install the shaman in the neighborhood. I came to this village with my son when he was just over a year old. I’d perform birthday rituals or visit 100-year-old elders [to earn a living]. But I don’t perform fortune-telling. Fortune-tellers are visited by spirits [and speak on their behalf], but I’m not like that. No one in my family was visited by spirits. We were all shamans. My father, mother, uncle, and aunt were shamans, too.
I perform prayers.

Loathsome Men

Men both young and old begged me to live with them. They were loathsome.

“I had a daughter. But when she was four years old, she drowned while bathing in a river with other children. I couldn’t save her.
My son was five years old when I had a daughter.
There were other men after my husband passed away when my son was two years old. I wouldn’t have been able to have a daughter otherwise.
I had to continue practicing shamanism [for my livelihood] after my husband passed away. I needed someone to help me with the supplies when I traveled to perform rituals. Back then, every household used charms to ward off evil spirits for the Lunar New Year. There was a lot of work during those times. I had to carry a heap of supplies. I would visit seven or eight different homes in a single day to create the charms. I’d visit a few homes in the day, a few at night, and even work until sunrise. And start again the next evening. I couldn’t do all of that without some help from a man.
The father of my daughter had four children of his own with some widow. His children would hit and pick on my son every night because he was young. While [my partner and I] were out earning a living, the children would beat on my son. I tried to leave [my partner], but he threatened to commit suicide if I left him. But I couldn’t bear it anymore and eventually left with my son and daughter. I was going to raise our daughter. I told that man not to ever look for me, and from that point I raised our daughter until she was four years old. One day, she followed some other children to bathe in a river. Those other children came to me and told me that my daughter had drowned. I went and recovered her body, but it was too late.
There was another man in my life some time later. He already had two wives and children of his own. I wasn’t interested in him. He had a lot of debt and no money. I had saved a good deal of money and grains at that time. So that man targeted me through people in the village.[note 008]I had always been opposed to being a concubine. Concubines were looked down upon, and I told that man that I wanted no part of that life. But we somehow ended up together.
He convinced me to pay off his debts. It hadn’t even been three days before his creditors began harassing me.
I had no choice but to pay off his debts with the little grains and money that I had saved. After the debts were paid, that bastard left me without even saying a word. I’ve been through all types of predicaments. All types. After that incident, men both young and old begged me to live with them. They were loathsome. I swore off all men after that. Now I’m an old woman. The world is a much more comfortable place when you’re old. You don’t have to deal with repugnant men any more.
But living alone is difficult, too.
I used to get horrible back and stomach pains. I would smell burning tobacco while I was sleeping, like someone was blowing it into my window. That would wake me up. Then I’d curl up into a fetal position from severe back and stomach pains. It felt like labor pains. I’d be moaning and crawling around from the pain. It was like that for three years, and I didn’t sleep with any other men. I was so tired of men.”

Investigation

How could I possibly tell people that I had received all those men?

“There were lots of investigations. The township, the county, and even newspaper reporters.[note 009]I stayed in lots of places in China over the course of five or six years.
Even though it was five or six years, I felt so humiliated that I told the investigators that it was only for four years. I hid two years [of being a comfort woman] from the investigators.
I felt ashamed about admitting to even four years. But speaking to a woman about it alleviated some of the embarrassment. I felt so small speaking to men about the issue. I became flustered and humiliated telling them about my past.
I wish the investigators would leave me alone. But at least I can speak to a female investigator now. It’s a bit easier to speak to women. I would get so flustered … . My face would turn bright red when I looked in the mirror.
How could I tell other men that I received ‘customers’? How?”

Resentment

’If you hadn’t pressured me, I never would have went.’

“I went to look for my uncle after returning to Korea from China.
My uncle was glad to see me – he hugged me. He asked, ‘I thought you were dead! Where have you been all this time?’
But he knew what I had been doing. He knew where I went.
My uncle told me that my father sent a permit to Japan [for me to work as a prostitute].
Everyone knew what the permit meant – there was no hiding it. My uncle told me that my father told all of my relatives. So he knew that I was at a comfort station.
My uncle told me that Heuksan in Muan County[note 010]was where my parents lived. So I went to look for them. I discovered them living in a single-room rental in someone’s house.
I asked my parents why they hadn’t been able to buy a house.
‘I thought you were dead! Are you actually standing in front of me?’ he asked.
He couldn’t believe that I was back. But I was still very much alive. ‘I’m your daughter – of course, I came back. Do you know how far China is from here? I returned from China some time ago,’ I told him.
‘Do you have any idea how much I’ve resented you?’ I asked my father.
‘If you hadn’t pressured me, I never would have left. All I could think of was how much I hated you when I had to receive all those men,’ I told my father. I thought he would have passed away by then. After having experienced what I did, what fortune befell my father for him to still have been alive and well? He thought I had died, and I thought he had passed. But somehow, he was still alive. ‘I’ve been through hell,’ I said.

 
[note 001]
[note 002]
According to Jeom-yeop Gong, military payment certificates (MPC) referred to as menjō were used in place of cash at the time.
[note 003]
Workers who managed the women at comfort stations.
[note 004]
Symptoms of syphilis sometimes present themselves near the groin, and they were referred to as yokone by comfort women at the time. Some modern Japanese medical texts still include the term yokone (literally “side-root,” a general Japanese term for chancre) for the disease. Jeom-yeop Gong had two separate surgical procedures to treat yokone and has scars on both sides of the groin.
[note 006]
The border between Korea and Manchuria.
[note 007]
Masan City, Haenam County, South Jeolla Province.
[note 008]
Jeom-yeop Gong’s suitor discovered that she was well-off and tried to convince people in the village to help him marry Mrs. Gong.
[note 009]
After registering as a former comfort woman for the Japanese military, Jeom-yeop Gong received frequent visits from government officials to corroborate her story.
[note 010]
Heuksan Township, Muan County, South Jeolla Province.
[note 001]
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[note 002]
According to Jeom-yeop Gong, military payment certificates (MPC) referred to as menjō were used in place of cash at the time.
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[note 003]
Workers who managed the women at comfort stations.
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[note 004]
Symptoms of syphilis sometimes present themselves near the groin, and they were referred to as yokone by comfort women at the time. Some modern Japanese medical texts still include the term yokone (literally “side-root,” a general Japanese term for chancre) for the disease. Jeom-yeop Gong had two separate surgical procedures to treat yokone and has scars on both sides of the groin.
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[note 006]
The border between Korea and Manchuria.
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[note 007]
Masan City, Haenam County, South Jeolla Province.
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[note 008]
Jeom-yeop Gong’s suitor discovered that she was well-off and tried to convince people in the village to help him marry Mrs. Gong.
닫기
[note 009]
After registering as a former comfort woman for the Japanese military, Jeom-yeop Gong received frequent visits from government officials to corroborate her story.
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[note 010]
Heuksan Township, Muan County, South Jeolla Province.
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