Only 53 Halmoni Remain
In January of this year, two halmoni, or former comfort women, passed away and now there are only 53 remaining.
Comfort women is a euphemism for women that were coerced into sexual slavery by Japan during WWII. These women now preferred to be called halmoni, or grandmother in Korean, because they were anything but comfortable or comforted in the situation they were forced to endure. With time dwindling for these women and still no end in sight for their campaign to receive an apology from Japan as well as an accurate depiction of them in the Japanese text books among other things, it is vital that more people reach out to them, support them and support their mission even when they can’t any longer. Every Wednesday from 12:00pm to 1:00pm, they brave whatever weather is thrown at them and sit outside of the Japanese embassy in Seoul. It is one of only a few protests that the Korean government has allowed continuously and so these women march on. While crowds can range from just 20 to a few hundred, the women are always there.
Hwang Seonsoon (황선순) was born in 1926 in Jeollanam-do and was just 17 when she was lured away to what was supposed to be a factory job in Busan. Once she got to Busan, she was transferred to Japan and ended up at a comfort station in the South Pacific Islands where she stayed for three years. She was 89 when she passed away last month. The other halmoni’s family would prefer to keep her information private. But two of these brave women have passed and that’s what you should know.
To learn more about these women and their struggle, visit The War and Women’s Human Rights Museum (전쟁과여성인권박물관) in Mapo-gu which provides a look at what these women went through and how long it took to find proof of Japan’s concerted effort to ship women around the world to “comfort” their soldiers. Raped 20 to 60 times a day, the museum is full of harrowing stories and details that bring tears to almost every visitor. There is also information on what is happening now and how you can get involved and show your support. Add the Women’s Global Solidarity Action Network on Facebook to keep up with news related not only to these women but also women around the world that are still struggling with oppression and sexual slavery and get involved.