After Kim Hak-sun’s courageous testimony, the Justice for Korean “comfort women” established a “comfort women report hotline.” Once Kim’s testimony was reported on TV and in newspapers and the phone number of the “comfort women report hotline” was publicized, calls from victims and bereaved families kept coming. Somebody even reported that the head of a township played a pro-Japanese role during the colonial era, propagating the Women's Army Volunteer Corps. There was a person who said he was still looking for his young sister, who was taken away and never came back. He asked whether his sister was among the callers. Because of Kim’s testimony, we could see how many people lived with the hidden pain of their past in the Japanese army’s “comfort women” system.
And 4 months after from Kim’s testimony, Moon Ok-ju, who was living in Daegu, revealed that she was one of Japanese army’s “comfort women.” She was the second Kim Hak-sun to emerge. After Moon, the third and the fourth victims came forward. All the victims said, “We came forward because Japan is denying the issue when there are living witnesses like ourselves.” The victims also understood that the truth will be revealed only after they made their pasts public.
Kang Duk-kyung, who was living in a water tank in a vinyl greenhouse in Namyangju, Gyeonggi-do, became the most active participant for the resolution movement after she revealed that she was a victim. Kang was born in Jinju, Kyongnam, and went to Japan when she was 16 because a Japanese teacher encouraged her to do so. She went to Japan as a Women's Volunteer Labor Corps. At first she worked in a factory. But she was caught when she tried to escape from the hard work and hunger and became a Japanese army “comfort woman.” She was already pregnant when the war was over. Moon put the child in a Catholic orphanage and worked hard. However, the child died because of illness. And whenever she was able to save money she had to spend it on medical expenses. Because her health was ruined at the “comfort station,” she could not save enough money to buy a house.
She said she had nothing left to be afraid of because she had already spent her entire life poor and miserable. So she dedicated the rest of her life to resolving the issue of “comfort women.” She was unwell and poor, but she refused the Asian Women's Fund. She did not just refuse the fund, she actively engaged in the movement against the fund.
Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer in 1995. However, during her sickness she painted about what she went through as a Japanese army “comfort woman.” She was able to keep painting until her sickness got worse because she kept taking art classes in the “The House of Sharing,” the home for Japanese army “comfort women.”
Along with painting, she engaged in a lot of other activities. She actively participated in pursuing an apology and legal compensation from the Japanese government, including testifying at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva and testified at an assembly in Japan at the invitation of a Japanese civic group. At those moments, she did not look like a mere victim of the Japanese army’s “comfort women” system or a patient with serious illness. She was an enthusiastic human rights activist. She often had to shuffle between an intensive care unit and a general ward, but she said she wanted to participate in the Wednesday Demonstration whenever she regained a little bit of strength. One day in 1996, she went to the demonstration in a hospital ambulance.

Taken Innocence, Kang Duk-kyung

The most famous piece among Kang’s works is Taken Innocence. Just recalling the memory of being raped must have been very hard for her, and she drew her experience in canvas saying people should learn from it what the Japanese government did. What do you think of her painting? Isn’t this as great as any other painter’s work? I don’t know much about art, but it seems like the wounds she received from the Japanese army and the current portrait of Japan are well expressed in the painting. There are dozens of her works. Her paintings were exhibited all around the world.
Kang passed away on February 2, 1997, after a lengthy battle with lung cancer. But the paintings she left are still being exhibited in many countries, and stand as artistic testimony to the Japanese government’s wartime crimes. And through the words of many women, the hope of her demands is being spread.
Since Kim Hak-sun’s first report on August 14, 1991 through the end of December, 2009, the number of people reported to be victims of the “comfort women” system is 234. Many of them turned into enthusiastic human rights activists, like Kang. One person’s courageous confession moved the minds of hundreds, and those people’s courage changed the minds of people all over the world.
Of course, 234 is not a big number. Thinking about the number of victims of the “comfort women” system, it wouldn’t be strange if there had been many more. Researchers estimate that 100,000 to 200,000 women in Asia participated in the Japanese army’s “comfort women” system. Of course, this number is just an estimate. We do not know how many women were mobilized as Japanese army “comfort women.” If we consider this, the number 234 represents just the tip of an iceberg. There must have been many women who died in the battlefields and could not come back. And there must been many women who could not come forward because they were ashamed of their past, or afraid to hurt their families. Their silence is not to be blamed on them. They probably keep silent because our society is still not ready to embrace them completely.

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The Wednesday Demonstration, We Are All Connected
A beautiful name and a tainted name
What Happened to the 13 year old girl who was full of dreams?
The Home They Could Never Return to
A Companion’s Journal
“Granny, I Hope You Rest in Peace in Heaven.”
The People Who Kindled Sparks of Hope
Kim Hak-sun, the Most Beautiful Confession in the World
Letter to Granny Jin
The Issue is Not Yet Resolved
The Wednesday Demonstration that Awoke the Conscience of the World
Women and War, A Recurring Ill-Fated Relationship
The Future We Should Make
“Drive Me to the Embassy. I Will Die There.”
War and the Women’s Human Rights

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