• Comfort Women
  • Stories Making History

“The Time Flew Where the Wind Blew”

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  • Year
  • Age
  • Contents
  • 1928
  •  
  • Born in Huichon, North Pyongan Province (Theyear of birth is 1927 according to her resident registration)
  • 1940
  • (Age 12)
  • Forced into sexual slavery in Harbin, Manchuria
  • 1941
  • (Age 13)
  • Returned to Korea after contracting asexually transmitted disease
  • c. 1942
  • (Age 14)
  • Forced into sexual slavery for the second time in Shijiazhuang, China
  • 1945
  • (Age 17)
  • Returned to Incheon
  • c. 1948
  • (Age 20)
  • Married a widower in Onyang, North Chungcheong Province
    Sustained livelihood with bootleg liquor
  • 1954
  • (Age 26)
  • Lived with a Mr. Hwang, a married man
    Owned a general store and wholesale business in Bucheon
  • 1958
  • (Age 30)
  • Adopted a son
  • c. 1976
  • (Age 48)
  • Financial hardship due to co-signing defaulted loan
    Separated from Mr. Hwang
  • 1998
  • (Age 70)
  • Registered as a former comfort woman
  • 2004
  • (Age 76)
  • Living alone in a rental apartment in Incheon through government assistance
Pyongyang→Harbin→Pyongyang→Shijiazhuang→Incheon
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“I wouldn’t have survived for all these years by carrying all those memories with me.
Maybe it’s my old age, but sometimes I try to remember my past experiences when I can’t sleep at night after spending the entire day doing nothing but eating and napping. But I can’t remember a thing. That’s when I say to myself, ‘Thank you, God.’ I wouldn’t be able to live if I still remembered all the details. I comfort myself – that’s how I go on.
Ignorance is bliss. Even if you haven’t experienced it yourself, you would be appalled by the things people went through.
I was never able to conceive a child or do things other people take for granted.
This was no way for a human to live. As someone said, ‘The time flew where the wind blew.’”

Fine

I asked to be sold for ₩20 for my father’s release.

“I was born in North Pyongan Province, but my family moved to Pyongyang when I was still very young. I remember crossing a stream on top of my brother’s luggage. I vaguely remember that. I must have been four or five years old then.
I have four other siblings – two older brothers, one older sister, and a younger brother.
I guess you could say my father was a heavy drinker. He hardly came home – he was a rolling stone. My father returned home, permanently, at some point. He owned a junk yard while we lived together. Before that, I remember my mother operated a street stand selling fish and even sold fish door-to-door.
The junk yard was in Am-dong,[note 138]and I remember going to school at the time. I returned home from school one day, and there was a commotion at our house. People were saying that my father had been taken into [police] custody. He was caught buying stolen goods at his junk yard, so he was taken by the police. I’m sure that’s what it was about.
Our family was turned upside down, so I wasn’t able to continue going to school.
Maybe two years? I attended school for over a year. My older brothers weren’t able to attend much school, either. Since our family faced financial difficulties in Huichon, North Pyongan Province, my oldest brother decided to give up on education and help our mother earn a living.
When my father went to jail and I couldn’t attend school, I started misbehaving. Had I known that I’d be [a comfort woman], I would have received proper training at a gisaeng school. Educated gisaeng (sanctioned female entertainers) were treated differently from uneducated prostitutes, and I believe I was targeted for that reason.
In those days, there were trained and untrained gisaeng. There was a clear distinction between girls who graduated from a gisaeng school and those who had not. That’s where the term ‘Pyongyang gisaeng’ originated. I actually spent some time learning Seodo,[note 139] without even understanding the meaning. I went for a few months, but my older brother caught me. I was severely punished. That’s what I mean by misbehaving. What did a twelve-year-old child even know about any of that?
I may have been eleven years old. Maybe I had just turned twelve. I think that’s about right. After attending a gisaeng school for some time, I injured my right thumb and couldn’t play the janggu (drum). A friend of mine at the gisaeng school suggested, ‘Let’s go make some money.’ That’s how I ended up in Manchuria.
The fine that needed to be paid for my father’s release was about ₩20 at the time. So I decided to pay that on my own.
I’m not even sure how I learned about [prostitution]. I was too immature to realize what the repercussions would be – I just wanted to earn the ₩20 to release my father from jail.
I don’t know if I was sold off [into sexual slavery] or I somehow went on my own, but I do remember that I was twelve years old. I crossed the Tumen River into Manchuria at the age of twelve.”

yokoneSurgery

I was crippled by the age of fourteen.

“There were several other girls who accompanied me, but I don’t remember anything about them.
All I can remember, is that the place was extremely cold – freezing cold. There weren’t any Koreans at all. The Japanese people weren’t regular civilians – they were all soldiers.
I was just a young child who didn’t know what she was doing. It was unspeakably difficult at first. That was probably the most difficult time. The owner was a scary elderly woman. To me, she was even scarier than the soldiers.
The whole experience was too much for a young girl.
I contracted a sexually transmitted disease not long after I arrived [at the comfort station]. It was called yokone (literally “side-root”; a general Japanese term for chancre, a symptom of syphilis).
I had buboes[note 140] on both sides of the groin.
I had a severe fever, and I wasn’t able to receive any customers.
Since, [the owner] couldn’t tell me what to do because of the illness, I was taken to a hospital for surgery. The Japanese doctors performed a horrific procedure on me. They would never have done that to their own Japanese daughters. They tied my fallopian tubes during the surgery. Because of the procedure, I developed ovarian cysts in my twenties that were the size of my fists. They were on both sides.
I was crippled by the age of fourteen.
I couldn’t walk after the surgery. Both legs were in terrible condition. Since I wasn’t recovering, I was basically of no use to [the owner and soldiers]. So I was sent back home, and a Korean person escorted me.
I was scolded for being unable to receive customers. To comfort me, I believe the man who escorted me said, ‘She contracted a disease through no fault of her own. There was no need to be cruel.’ I just followed that man out of [the comfort station].
I’m not sure if that man was a soldier or a civilian – I’d never seen him before. He was nice enough to escort me home. Back then, no one was allowed in or out of that area without proper documents.
Some type of documented proof – like a resident registration card – was required for travel. I wouldn’t have been able to enter places in China or Manchuria without documents. I barely remember what I had to do, but the pimp (procuress) that managed me told me that she needed documented proof of who I was. That’s all I remember.”

Homecoming

I didn’t want to return to a comfort station, so I went to the military base looking for work.

“I remember that my mother sold fish around the time I returned from Manchuria. My older sister married shortly after I returned.
We only had millet to eat – no rice. We didn’t even have barley, just millet. Since my sister was gone, I had to cook the millet in the kitchen day in and day out. I remember having to find firewood.
There was a military base near our house that manufactured munitions. Our family was extremely poor at the time.
I didn’t want to return [to a comfort station], so I went to the military base looking for work.
People would line up in the morning for work – some old, some young. Someone would select a number of people who would work that day. He would call out names and provide people with belts. We had to carry munitions or clean up.
I even met some friends from the gisaeng school. They knew what time I finished at the military base, so they would wait for me. They let me borrow their clothes so that I could work singing at local businesses. Girls who were trained at a gisaeng school were different from other girls. We were even trained to enter a room properly. So I would meet up with my friends and chat. I don’t know how it came up, but someone suggested that we go [to China] to earn money. ‘There’s lots of money to be made in China,’ someone said.
I said that I would never go back [to a comfort station], but I ended up right back at another [comfort station].”

Back to China

I wouldn’t have gone a second time had I known.

“I crossed the Yalu River to reach northern China.
I went with one other friend. We heard through the grapevine that a train bound for China was leaving from Pyongyang Station.
They were all just like us.
Since my friend and I had attended a gisaeng school, we thought that we would be working serving drinks, singing, and dancing.
I was a fool.
The people who went didn’t realize the truth until they arrived [at the comfort stations]. How would the families back home have known? No one knew where they were going. I had such a traumatic experience from the first time. I wouldn’t have gone a second time had I known.
After I returned from Manchuria, I even worked manual labor at a military base just so I wouldn’t have to work in a place like [a comfort station] again. Why would I go back to China for more?
My mother knew that I would be going to China. That I know for sure. When I was leaving, she gave me an orange jeogori (traditional Korean upper garment) and a green skirt. I believe I remember why she did that, too. She thought I would be singing and entertaining, so I think she wanted me to look presentable.
At the time, our family didn’t have enough money to dress me in something nice. My father was soon to be released from jail, and my sister had just gotten married. I believe my mother did that so that I would look my best when singing. I would have loved to ask my mother about that if North and South Korea ever unified. But it’s been over sixty years, so my parents have probably passed away.
I didn’t go alone – there were many other people. The name of the area may have been Namachang[note 141] or Shijiazhuang[note 142] - I don’t recall. But instead of going to Tokiwa,[note 143] we stayed in that area overnight. I clearly remember the meal that we were given – it was a bean paste soup with beef rice.
I remember that instead of strips of beef traditionally found in that soup, the beef was cut into small chunks.
It was so delicious. I wept while I ate … . All I could think about were my parents. I felt guilty wondering what my family was eating while I ate a nice soup with beef and rice.
The food just wouldn’t go down, because I was thinking about my family. I just cried wondering how they were doing while I was being transported.
I soon realized where I was headed. When I was eating the soup, the woman who cooked it denied that I was going [to a comfort station]. There were some Korean men there at the time. I had to pay one of the Korean men a great deal of money to be escorted back to Korea. They asked me how I would pay for it. One of them intimidated me. I kept asking the men, ‘Am I going to a place to sing? Is it a bar? Where am I going?’ Then one of the men yelled, ‘You’re going to serve drinks – now shut up!’”

Tokiwa

There was nothing I could do when the men came in during the day.

“There were no drinks to be served. There weren’t any people to see except Japanese soldiers.
I ended up in a place called Tokiwa.
I tried to be defiant. ‘Who are you to resist?’ said the owner.
There was no freedom. No one was allowed to go anywhere. There was nothing I could do when the men came in during the day.
[The soldiers] mainly came [to the comfort station] from the afternoon until late at night. I remember when I woke up late in the morning and put on my makeup, the women who managed the [comfort station] would check in on me. They would scold me and say, ‘How are you going to receive customers with that face?’
We were all presented in a room after putting on makeup.
[The comfort women] were lined up around a hall-like room. I remember sitting in that room.
There was a woman who inspected [the comfort women] in that room. She would walk around the room and examine everyone. Then she would say, ‘You go here, and you go there.’ We all had to go into our designated rooms when our names were called.
Sometimes we were sent back to sit in that room [after servicing a customer], but that was rare. [Soldiers] would come in before we had a chance to wash up. Those were difficult days.
I believe [the soldiers] had vouchers. They paid with the vouchers and were let into the rooms.
[The soldiers] handed us the vouchers, and then we took those vouchers to the office. I never saw any cash [being exchanged].
I could bear when the Japanese soldiers came in sober, but some of the drunken soldiers were downright frightening. I would get scared when I heard a drunken soldier’s slurred speech. I would just pray that I wouldn’t have to service him. The drunks were really scary.”

Violence

Whether they hit me once out of anger or continuously intimidated me, they’re all the same.

“The worst people were the ones who didn’t finish quickly and continued to harass me. It was difficult to bear when [the soldiers] only cared about their own greed.
I can’t even count how many … . I wouldn’t even say anything if it happened once or twice. Sometimes it was so busy there was no time to wash up afterwards. If there was bleeding or it was just too unbearable, I resisted. That’s when I would be beaten for being defiant.
I get so upset just thinking about the unspeakable things [the soldiers] did to me. I received beatings for resisting.
I received this scar on the top of my head when a Japanese soldier struck me with a dagger [hilt]. If he had drawn the dagger, I would have been dead. The scar is still huge. I couldn’t remove my clothes because there was so much blood – they had to be torn off. Just imagine the situation. I’m scarred for life because of the beatings and [the rapes]. I’m a human being, too. How could I not hold a grudge against those people who did this to me? That’s why I don’t want to remember those experiences. I just want to forget all those memories.
I can’t count how many times I just wanted to die rather than endure another day. Whether they hit me once out of anger or continuously intimidated me, they’re all the same.
But I was foolish. There were some [comfort women] who ran away, got caught, and were severely beaten. I never even considered running away, but I always thought to myself, ‘How would I get back home? How would I gain the owner’s favor so that she would let me go home?’ I was truly foolish.
If just one person out of thirty [comfort women] ran away, the remaining twenty-nine would be punished just the same. The rest were punished worse than the one who tried to run away. That would mean even less freedom from the near non-existent freedom that we had. We couldn’t even say a word. Still, there was always someone trying to run away. I can talk about it now, but those were awful times … . Awful.

There was one decent Japanese man. When he came in and saw that I was in a bad condition, he would just leave me alone. He would say, ‘tsukemono (pickles), kimchi. Do you have kimchi?’ Then he would ask, ‘Would you make me some?’ But there really weren’t any proper seasonings available. There weren’t any cabbages, salt, or pickled anchovies. So I had to make it with what was available. I’d ask the man to bring me garlic or green onions. I did what I could for him. Of course, the owner would be angry and tell me that I was wasting my time. I would give him what I made in secret, and in return, he would give me military blankets, toothbrushes, or toothpaste. There was at least one person who was kind. It doesn’t matter if someone’s Korean, Japanese, or American. There will always be nice people and evil people regardless of where they’re from.
I tried to remember his name, but it’s been long forgotten. But I never forgot my name. My name…I was given the name Hanako Yoshimoto. I remember that and the name of the comfort station, Tokiwa. I don’t remember the rest.”

Concours

People nominated me to sing in a competition.

“I was thankful for my voice. Whenever I sang, people would gather to listen to my voice.
People nominated me to sing in a competition. You had to receive lots of nominations to enter, and I was able to participate.
It was basically a talent show. [Comfort women] from different [comfort stations] participated. I represented Tokiwa, and there were other [comfort stations], as well.
The contestants all represented a certain [comfort station]. That was actually the first time I learned the names of other [comfort stations]. I think most [comfort stations] in the area participated in the event.
I was the only person from Tokiwa. I was the only one even though Tokiwa was fairly large. I believe there were about forty or fifty contestants.
It was a Japanese song, and I only remember the beginning line. Haru yo, otome yo, otome yo, haru yo.[note 144]The soldiers were in attendance. Some may have been civilians, but they were all wearing uniforms.
I realized at the competition just how many women were in the area. They said, ‘One woman was chosen from this many. Two women were chosen from that many.’ That’s how I knew how many other Korean women were [in the comfort stations]. I never would have learned that if I hadn’t been in that competition.”

Telegram

Who wouldn’t want to go home after hearing about a parent’s death?

“I wrote letters back home when I was in China. That’s how I heard about my father’s passing.
I received a letter – I believe in 1944 – that my father was ill. Then I received a telegram notifying me that he had passed away.
I actually thought that I would be sent home when I told [the owner] about the news. [The owner] looked at me wide-eyed and asked, ‘What are you talking about? How will I know that you’ll come back?’
All I could do was cry like a fool. That was my only weapon – crying. Who wouldn’t want to go home after hearing about a parent’s death?
I would have left if I had any money for [transportation] fare. I had no money, and they wouldn’t let me leave. I hated them for it. I think I wrote another letter home after that.
Eventually, Korea was liberated after World War II, but I didn’t even have the strength to be happy. I was exhausted.”

Liberation

I ended up caught in another cycle.

“There were lots of whispers. No one was allowed to leave right away after the end of the war. I overheard someone say, ‘There’s a ship at this time.’ There was a mad rush to board that ship. When I finally made my way back to Incheon on that ship, no one was allowed to disembark. There was cholera or typhoid going around at the time. So I was stuck on the ship for two weeks.
When people finally disembarked, we were given rice balls and a small amount of money for fare to return home. The Korean government did that. Everyone was assembled in Jangchung Park. Back then [before the Korean War], people were allowed to go to North Korea or South Korea as they pleased.
I was with three other girls, and one of them said, ‘We can’t just go back home empty-handed. Let’s earn some money for a few months before we return home.’ So I ended up in Cheonan.
I figured I’d save up for about three months. That’s what my friends and I decided. But I ended up caught in another cycle.
I worked as a hostess in Cheonan. I would sing songs and serve drinks to customers. I was making money, but I still had unresolved past issues. When I went to watch movies with my friends and saw any sad scenes, I would cry my eyes out. I worked in any bar that I could. If it was a Chinese establishment, I would drink Baigan liquor until I passed out and slept in a drainage ditch. My friends would take me back to their place and look after me.”

Livelihood

I thought things would improve if I just stopped working at a bar, but that wasn’t the case.

“I continued to work in hostess bars where I entertained customers. The pay was pretty good. But I was limited in my thinking. To sing and work in a bar, I needed lots of clothes and makeup, but I didn’t realize that. I’d spend whatever I earned and couldn’t save any money.
I kept working in bars. I went to Onyang[note 145] and met a man who was a gangster. His wife had passed away, he had one son, and his mother had suffered a stroke. I decided to live with that family just to get away from working in bars.
At first, I figured he was capable enough to not let me starve. I was tired of serving drinks at a bar – it became too unbearable. I figured, that man would be able to protect me, and I wouldn’t have to work at a bar anymore.
That was before the Korean War, so I was twenty or twenty-one years old.
[My husband] would leave for ten, fifteen days at a time. When he came back, he’d always bring something back – either a woman or some debt.
I didn’t have any way to make money while he was gone. I would gather firewood or even trash just to heat the house and cook. I couldn’t cook any food for three straight days.
My mother-in-law taught me how to steam rice for making rice wine. Since she had a stroke, she just lied in her room and told me the directions. I made and sold rice wine, and it became popular. I earned a decent amount of money with rice wine.
Another five or six years passed. I couldn’t bear it anymore, so I decided to run away. But there was nowhere for me to go but more bars. [My husband] looked for me all over. He even went to Bucheon to look for me.”

Uterine Surgery

The hardships were never-ending.

“My stomach was starting to bulge severely. There was a lot of vaginal discharge. I visited the gynecologist on several occasions, and the doctor told me that I had a cyst. I just kept living like that [without surgery]. Eventually, I went to a Christian hospital, and the doctor told me that it was dangerous not to have surgery.
There was a big cyst on each ovary. There were serious complications after [the Japanese doctors performed a tubal ligation] surgical procedure for my syphilis. I had to have the two fist-sized cysts removed from my ovaries. There was no other way. I received [the hysterectomy] at Incheon Christian Hospital when I was about twenty-seven years old. The surgeon removed both cysts.
It was the middle of winter when I had my surgery. The hardships were never-ending. I was given intravenous therapy after the surgery, but the weather was so cold that the solution was frozen solid. Since the IV solution could not be administered, my body started going into shock. I turned pale and started shaking uncontrollably. Then the surgeon came in and said to the nurse, ‘I did my part in the surgery. It’s your responsibility,’ and just left. Can you believe that? They stopped the IV therapy after about 100 ml. I kept shaking, but somehow I didn’t die. Anyway, I was discharged from the hospital after about a week or so without receiving any more IV therapy.
After being discharged, I remember being up at four o’clock in the morning ill and starving. I was so hungry that I just cried. I tried to suppress the crying so no one would hear me, but the landlord must have heard. She must have felt sorry for a woman crying so early in the morning. She nursed me as best she could. I tried hard not to show it, but I was hungry and in pain. I just pulled the blanket over my head and just wept until I passed out. I’m not even sure how long that lasted. How did I manage to survive … . ”

Cohabitation

I suppose having a wife at home wasn’t enough.

“I worked throughout Oryu-dong[note 146]and Pocheon[note 147]selling my voice. I didn’t sell my body then – I sold my voice. I met a man with four children while I lived in Pocheon, and we started to live together. He was married with three sons and one daughter. I don’t know whether I was a fool or he was just a cheat, but I suppose having a wife at home wasn’t enough.
He worked at an electric company at the time, but his salary wasn’t enough to support an entire family of six. I was too resilient to sit idly by and not earn a living.
If I didn’t give him any money, he would threaten me. He’d say that he’d kill himself and the whole family by gas asphyxiation. It was insane. The things that I went through while living with him were indescribable. The reason for all of that started with my inability to conceive children and have my own family. I figured that I didn’t need children, a husband, or even parents. But I was virtually powerless, because I didn’t have any relatives who could support me. Friends can only go so far. At the end of the day, friends are different from family and they have no clout.
If I spent all my time raising someone else’s children, the father would eventually abandon me, and I would end up raising his children by myself.”

Meeting a Son

Thank you, God, for giving a son to a wretch like me.

“I must have been nearly thirty years old.
If there were any unexpected accidents or deaths in the neighborhood, I was there to lend a hand. One day, my friend said, ‘There’s a woman at Samcheong hospital who has no family or anywhere to go. She gave birth to a boy, but the doctor won’t cut the umbilical cord [for fear of abandonment]. We should do something about this.’ So I went to see her. She was reluctant to eat, but she eventually ate a whole bowl of rice. There were whispers in the hospital that this woman would abandon her newborn baby.
[My friend] said to me, ‘You should raise that baby. This is your only chance to be a mother. If you raise that boy, you won’t ever be bothered by men who try to leech off of you.’ Not being bothered by men was actually a tempting proposition.
I wouldn’t buy myself a pair of socks, but I would buy every toy that my son wanted. I had to register his birth and family relations. So, I decided to register him under my partner’s family - the Hwang family.
I planned to sell my house and leave Bucheon with my son, but my greed got the better of me. I dabbled in [gray market] daily installment loans and currency exchange services. I was stuck in a cycle. I wanted to leave, but the money kept coming. I couldn’t walk away from that. The time just flew by while I lived like that in Bucheon. At some point, I co-signed a loan for someone and that was my downfall. After the loan defaulted, I was left with no money. My partner, Mr. Hwang, figured he couldn’t leech any more money from me, so he tried to fraudulently sell my house. What could he gain? Did I hand over the title? Of course not. All he got was the down payment – that was it.
My friend said to me, ‘You should just give some money to [Mr. Hwang] and go your separate ways. He always tried to live off your generosity anyway – he’s not going to leave you alone. If he hears that you sold your house, he’ll really stop his freeloading ways. So just give him some money and end your relationship.’ I eventually sold my house and did as my friend suggested. I’m probably the only woman in Korea who lived as a concubine and then paid alimony to a man after separating.
After I paid off all of my debts, I had virtually nothing left. From that point, I opened up a street stall and sold street food. I sold corn and eggs – things like that. I was determined to do anything to support my son and provide him with an education. I promised myself that even though I wasn’t an educated person, I couldn’t deprive my adopted son of a proper education. I never even bought clothes again – I took hand-me-downs from my friends. I tried my best to live for my son. And eventually, God blessed me with something wonderful.
He graduated from a seminary and even went to graduate school. Now he’s a minister. I don’t know why, but I felt so happy when I was able to pay his tuition.
I would just spin in circles around my room and say, ‘Thank you, God, for giving a son to a wretch like me. I’m so fortunate to have had a son that I was able to see through college and even graduate school. Thank you.’ That seems like it was just yesterday.”

Revelation

My daughter-in-law asks me what that was all about.

“It was around the time when there was a lot of commotion in the media over how much money needed to be paid in reparations [for comfort women]. It was a slip of the tongue… I said, ‘The real victims are living their lives quietly with their heads down in shame – it’s always the people who have nothing to do with the issue who are the loudest.’ My daughter-in-law asked me what that was all about. She wouldn’t let it go.
I cried rivers. [My son] told me that it was a miracle that I went through all that pain and still managed to survive. We both cried a lot. Before [the revelation], my son didn’t go out of his way to be nice to me, but afterwards, he tried very hard. He would come by and clean my room or wash the dishes after I ate.
The local community center insists on sending some volunteers to help me, but I don’t want to feel indebted to others. I still rely mostly on myself.”

Wish

My only wish is for a sincere apology.

“I get sudden sharp pains all over my body. It feels like a bee sting.
My legs, my feet… Everywhere. Sometimes I get terrible headaches and dizzy spells. The pain can be too much. But not one person thinks I suffer from illnesses. Only my doctor views me as a patient and tells me to be careful.
I have too many illnesses. I have high cholesterol, and my blood sugar is way too high. I suffer from osteoporosis, too. Osteoporosis was inevitable, because I had [my uterus] removed when I had the ovarian cysts.
[I had a hysterectomy] before I was thirty years old [which can increase the risk of osteoporosis]. I’ve had three[note 148] major operations and some other minor procedures.
One was for gallstones, another was for intestinal adhesion, and the last one was for gall bladder congestion. The gall bladder was removed. That was when I was in my mid-forties.
I must be blessed. Not a single place on my body is normal, but no one would suspect that I suffer from illness.
I was too immature in my younger days. I thought, ‘My family was too poor,’ or ‘I’m suffering because my family doesn’t have anything.’ But that wasn’t the truth. Think about it. What parents would sell their daughter to [a comfort station]?
I didn’t know any better but to blame other people, so I thought, ‘If I had been born rich, none of this would have happened.’ Now that I’m older, I know there are Koreans, just as anyone else, who would do atrocious things just for money. That’s why they collaborated with the Japanese to lure young girls into sexual slavery.
The integrity of a country is important. A person without a country is as good as dead.
I know I don’t have much time left on earth. My only wish is for a sincere apology [from the Japanese government].
There aren’t many [comfort women survivors] left now. Someone once said that an apology can pay off the greatest of debts. I just want to hear them say, ‘We know you suffered because of us. We want you to forgive us and be at peace.’ I would be satisfied with that.
I have another wish. I would like to see a memorial erected through the efforts of the Korean people and the Korean Council for Women Drafted into Military Sexual Slavery by Japan. When people die, they only leave their names behind. [Comfort women survivors] came into this world and suffered great atrocities. I don’t want us to be forgotten as nameless women. At least if a memorial is erected, our names would be remembered, even if some people feel that they may bear shame. I hope that a memorial can be erected with help from God to move the hearts of people so that our names won’t be forgotten.
I don’t have a way to leave my name behind. I don’t have any relatives or children.
I’m alone in this world. That’s why I wish to see a memorial erected, because I’ll having nothing else when I’m gone.
I’d be heartbroken if I just died like this. I hope that [a memorial] can be erected so I can leave my name behind.”

 
[note 138]
Am-dong, Pyongyang, North Korea
[note 139]
Folk song from Hwanghae Province and Pyongan Province.
[note 140]
Swelling of the lymph nodes. Generally found in the groin area as a result of contracting syphilis or other infections.
[note 141]
‘Namachang’ is thought to be a village near Shijiazhuang, China.
[note 142]
An area in northern China where several Japanese military bases were located.
[note 143]
Name of the comfort station in which Won-ok Gil stayed.
[note 144]
“Oh Springtime, Oh Maiden” in Japanese.
[note 145]
Onyang, Asan City, South Chungcheong Province
[note 146]
Oryu-dong, Guro District, Seoul
[note 147]
Pocheon, Gyeonggi Province
[note 148]
Won-ok Gil showed her surgical scars from procedures for ovarian cysts, intestinal adhesion, and gall bladder congestion.
[note 138]
Am-dong, Pyongyang, North Korea
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[note 139]
Folk song from Hwanghae Province and Pyongan Province.
닫기
[note 140]
Swelling of the lymph nodes. Generally found in the groin area as a result of contracting syphilis or other infections.
닫기
[note 141]
‘Namachang’ is thought to be a village near Shijiazhuang, China.
닫기
[note 142]
An area in northern China where several Japanese military bases were located.
닫기
[note 143]
Name of the comfort station in which Won-ok Gil stayed.
닫기
[note 144]
“Oh Springtime, Oh Maiden” in Japanese.
닫기
[note 145]
Onyang, Asan City, South Chungcheong Province
닫기
[note 146]
Oryu-dong, Guro District, Seoul
닫기
[note 147]
Pocheon, Gyeonggi Province
닫기
[note 148]
Won-ok Gil showed her surgical scars from procedures for ovarian cysts, intestinal adhesion, and gall bladder congestion.
닫기
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