When the first survivor, Kim Hak Soon, came forward in 1991 as having been a “comfort woman” for the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, her testimony inspired countless others to come forward and share their own stories. Today, we call them halmonis, meaning “grandmothers” — a term of endearment in Korea. “Comfort women” was a label coined by the Japanese to imply consent, when in reality, they were either kidnapped or lured by the false pretenses of jobs abroad.
Despite the overwhelming number of testimonies and historical evidence to support their claims, no acceptable apology or legal reparations have been offered by the Japanese government. Still today, Japan has not formally apologized or legally recognized their role in institutionalized sexual slavery during WWII.
Former “comfort woman” Lee Yong Soo continues her activism because she believes “one of the reasons we have so much sexual violence in this world is that the crimes such as those committed by Japan have not been completely resolved. But I am here to tell you in person what happened and what Japan did, because I don’t want to see this happen again to the next generation.”
There are now only 11 survivors remaining.
Arin Yoon (she/her) is a documentary photographer and visual artist based in Kansas City, Kansas. Her work focuses on women, notions of family, displacement, identity, and representation. Yoon is a National Geographic Explorer, an International Women’s Media Foundation Fellow, and a We, Women Photo Artist. She is a member of Women Photograph, Diversify Photo, and the Asian American Journalists Association. Her work has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Reuters, ProPublica, the New York Times and the Washington Post. Yoon has exhibited at venues internationally, such as the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History in Seoul, South Korea. She has an MFA in Photography, Video and Related Media from the School of Visual Arts as well as a B.A. in Political Science and a B.A. in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago.
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The Legacy of Korean “Comfort Women” and Their Continued Fight for Justice
Featuring: Arin Yoon
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146 Furman Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
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