Friday, June 29, 2007

Gee I wonder why?

WHILE PACKING UP AT 10 DOWNING ST., British Prime Minister Tony Blair last week spoke about the difficulties of conducting governmental affairs in today’s media environment. Many observers in the U.S. as well as Great Britain noted with interest his description of the Independent as a “viewspaper, not a newspaper”.

Britain’s not the only country with a viewspaper problem–many newspapers in Western countries and Japan aren’t interested in making distinctions between a Page One news story and an editorial. I’m sure we all could offer our favorite candidates.

And after reading this recent article in The Hankyoreh about the Korean Wave of pop culture in Japan, the deadly viewspaper virus has wormed its way into the South Korean print media, too.

The article starts as a newspaper piece, offering more bad news for K-Wave fans and those whose taste runs to international soap operas:

* The rise of “hallyu,” or the “Korean wave” of cultural products, was short-lived in Japan.
* Cinemart Roppongi, a Tokyo theater devoted to showing Asian films, has screened 16 South Korean movies since late March, but has attracted only about 2,300 viewers during the entire festival.
* When Cinemart Roppongi opened, Korean films accounted for almost 90 percent of its lineup, but now comprise about 60 percent.
* Korean film distribution rights, even deeply discounted for the Japanese market, are getting too pricey for the amount of box office they pull in.
* Just three or four Japanese companies import and distribute Korean films, a drop of more than 50 percent from their peak.
* The average sale price of a film’s distribution rights in Japan is about 10 percent of what it once was.
* “No matter how cheap they are, nobody wants to buy Korean movies,” said Lee Eun-gyeong of Kadogawa Pictures.
* According to a survey performed by the Korean Broadcasting Institute (KBI), Japan’s import of Korean TV programs decreased by about 16 billion won (approximately US$17 million) in 2006 as compared to 2005.

Connect the dots, and it’s obvious they’re having a hard time giving Korean product away in Japan now, a mere three years after the country’s movies and TV programs had become so popular it led to the coining of the phrase “Korean Wave”.

Then The Hankyoreh inexplicably switches from newspaper to viewspaper mode. Take a look at the headline:

Is the ‘Korean wave’ dead in Japan? Don’t bet on it, say experts
Other cooperative projects grow out of surge in interest in Korean culture

The sage of Baltimore, H.L. Mencken, once wrote, “The most costly of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind.”

The Hankyoreh is curiously passionate about “the palpably not true”, despite the Korean Wave having gone flat and glassy. This isn’t new information; everyone involved, including the Koreans, knew it at the beginning of last year. Here’s a quick translation of excerpts from article that appeared in Japanese in the Nishinippon Shimbun almost a year ago (all subsequent emphasis mine):

The value of Korean film exports, the primary element in the so-called Korean Wave sweeping Japan, plunged by roughly half in the period from January to June this year (2006). The most important factor was the sharp decline in exports to Japan, which accounts for 70% of the export market. The Korean Film Society commented, ‘We cannot say this phenomenon is temporary. Rather, it is the result of the “export bubble” to Japan bursting.’
…The statistics for exports to Japan were particularly revealing. During the same period last year, 36 movies with an average export price of US$860,000 each were sent here, while this year the figure fell to just 15 films with an average value of US$580,000. In addition, the amount of money received from exports to Japan during the first six months of this year accounted for roughly half of all film export income, while it amounted to about 74% last year.

If the people of any country are in a position to understand Japanese behavior, it should be the Koreans. Apart from some small islands under Russian occupation, Korea is Japan’s closest neighbor, and interaction between the two—albeit at times antagonistic and involuntary—stretches back for millennia.


Therefore, The Hankyoreh should already be aware of the tendency for Japanese interest to suddenly burst into flame, burn almost incandescently, and just as quickly die out. The Japanese themselves are the first to acknowledge this behavior; they use the expression senko hanabi—literally, incense fireworks—to describe this phenomenon. Senko hanabi are a traditional Japanese version of the American sparkler often seen at family gatherings in the summer. These backyard, child-safe fireworks have become a metaphor for transience, a favorite Japanese theme.

The popularity of Korean movies and TV in Japan had reached such a height in 2004 and 2005 that people were openly speculating when the inevitable collapse would come. As the Nishinippon Shimbun article excerpted above reports, that collapse came in the first half of 2006.

None of this should be a big deal. Trends wax and wane in countries everywhere, all the time. Yet The Hankyoreh seems desperate to come up with excuses to believe in the palpably not true.

Excuse #1

Bang Sang-won, a Korean executive of Samsung in Japan, said that he now has many new topics of conversation with his Japanese business partners since they are all watching the same Korean TV dramas.

I suspect Mr. Bang’s Japanese business partners are relieved to have finally found some subjects for casual conversation with him. Another common trait of the Japanese is to search for the least common denominator enabling them to initiate friendly communication with people. (That’s why they compliment newly arrived foreigners on their use of chopsticks or attempts to speak Japanese. That’s also why the Japanese think talking about the weather is an excellent way to start a conversation.)

If Mr. Bang has to struggle for topics of conversation with the Japanese, the fault lies either with his Japanese ability or his personality. What’s he going to do now that most of those dramas have disappeared?

That’s not to mention the most peculiar aspect of all: most of the Korean programs shown in Japan were made either for the women’s market or for a younger demographic. How often do Samsung executives talk about soap operas with their business partners, much less watch them?

Excuse #2

The next excuse raises so many red flags, it’s like a Moscow May Day parade from the Soviet era.

Yuka Anjako, a researcher at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University’s Korea Research Center, said that due to the exposure of Korean culture to Japan, “some kindergartens designated ‘Korea Day’ as a special event. When these children grow up, they will be able to overcome the painful past between Korea and Japan.”

Ritsumeikan APU is a unique educational institution: roughly half the faculty and the students are from overseas (70 countries in all). It’s not surprising an official from that school would find a way to put a positive spin on anything that improves international relations.

But there are other problems. First, I can’t find a “Korea Research Center” on their website. Is either The Hankyoreh or Ms. Anjako padding her qualifications? In fact, she’s not listed as a faculty member at all (either under that spelling, or Anzako).

Then there is her assertion that Japanese today need to “overcome the painful past between Korea and Japan”, and that a Korea Day at kindergartens will turn the bilateral relationship into one big smiley face.

I don’t know Ms. Anjako’s age (or nationality), but most Japanese—either the average citizen or those committed to improving bilateral ties—simply don’t talk or think that way. They don’t have anything to overcome.

In 1984, my first year in the country, a friend remarked to me that while his parents disliked Koreans, no one in his generation felt that way at all. He’s in his 50s now.

I’m also familiar with Japanese efforts to promote grassroots interaction between the two countries. I was involved in the planning of the first exchange event held locally with Korean university students nearly 20 years ago, in 1989. As chance would have it, the Emperor Showa (Hirohito) died on the same day it was to begin. The Koreans were worried that the Japanese would cancel, but it was never seriously considered.

Koreans and their culture were not an exotic novelty before some of their movies and TV dramas found an audience among middle-aged Japanese housewives. Nor do Japanese have any reticence about interacting with Koreans. I’ve seen too many Korean college students studying in Japan enjoy themselves too much during their time in this country to think that anybody has to overcome anything.

My experience, combined with her manner of expression, made me wonder if Ms. Anjako has a certain agenda, so to speak.

Well, what do you know! This item from the North Korean news agency turned up (7th from top):

South and Overseas Delegations here
Pyongyang, September 28 (KCNA) — The south side’s delegation headed by Jon Jae Jin, chairman of the Society for Probing the Truth behind the Sinking of Ship Ukishima by Explosion and the overseas delegation led by Hong Sang Jin, secretary general of the Central Headquarters of the Korean Side of the Fact-finding Group of the Forcible Drafting of Koreans arrived here on Sept. 27 to participate in the Pyongyang symposium for probing the truth behind the “Ukishima-Maru” incident. Also arriving was Japanese delegate Yuka Anjako.
They were greeted at the airport by Hong Son Ok, chairperson of the DPRK Measure Committee for Demanding Compensation to Comfort Women for the Japanese Army and Victims of Forcible Drafting, and other officials concerned.

I’m sure you can draw your own conclusions.

By the way, if, like me, you didn’t know about the Ukishima-maru incident—and want a good laugh–this will tell you all you need to know.

Immediately after the end of the Second World War, some 3,800 Korean expatriates in Japan were aboard the “Ukishima-Maru” a Japanese naval vessel, which had been supposed to arrive in Pusan, a southeastern port of Korea, bidding farewell to their slave-like lives in the Japanese Archipelagoes– a suzerain of Korea. The ship had left a pier in Maizuru Port on August 24, 1945, but the vessel suddenly sank inside Maizuru Bay, north of Kyoto, Japan, claiming the lives of approximately 550 passengers.

The DPRK has claimed that the ship was sunk intentionally by the explosives planted inside the ship went off according to a plan carefully worked out by the Japanese authorities.

Flatly denying that the “Ukishima-Maru” was bomb-exploded, the Japanese side has been saying that the ship sank when it hit a mine.

Once again, I’m sure you can draw your own conclusions. Especially about the Japanese going out of their way to sink their own ship in their own waters one month before the war ended.

This time, the lady from Ritsumeikan turns up as Yuka Anzako, but it’s probably the same person.

Once they decided to turn this article into fiction, The Hankyoreh’s journalists really got on a roll. Their next excuse is one of the silliest things I’ve ever seen in a newspaper:

Excuse #3

Kim Mi-deok, a Korean researcher at the strategic institute of Japan’s Mitsui Corp., said, “The fact (is) that Japan’s major enterprises have started to be moved along by the Korean wave. Since hallyu hit Japan, Japanese businesses have acknowledged the possibility of Korea, and have strategically used Korea to advance into the greater Asian community.”

There are two possibilities for this nonsense. One is that Mr. Kim figured that he might as well tell the reporters what they wanted to hear, because his bosses at Mitsui would never read what he said.

The other is that The Hankyoreh just made it up.

It didn’t take long to find the Japanese government’s figures on Japanese foreign investment broken down by country, as you can see from this website (Excel file). These statistics show that Japanese businesses “advanced into the greater Asian community” long ago–with the notable exception of South Korea (considering its proximity and population). Japan has invested substantially more in China than in South Korea over the years, as well in the NIES and in Thailand. Their investments have sporadically been greater in Singapore, and more frequently higher in Hong Kong, considered separately from China—and both of those are city-states.

The next step was a search for statistics from the Korean side, to either corroborate or amplify the Japanese information. Before I found any statistics, however, I found this editorial that ran in the Korea Times two years ago (.pdf file):

Foreign investment in South Korea has never been high. For decades, the government pursued policies that successfully impeded foreign investment…These policies were in part an understandable response to the country’s colonial history and fears that if the economy were opened widely to foreign investors, the country’s assets would be bought up wholesale by Japanese investors.


Many are not doubt familiar with a proverb common to China, Japan, and Korea: “The frog at the bottom of the well knows nothing of the ocean”. I found myself wondering if the people who wrote The Hankyoreh article had the same perspective, but that frog’s not at the bottom of a well—it’s living in a roomful of mirrors.

Then the thought arose that they might be carrying a torch for all those Japanese consumers who deserted them. They could be going through the same sort of temporary denial that sometimes affects people when a lover decides to move on to greener pastures for a reason they don’t understand.

A more unfortunate possibility emerges the more one reads of that Korea Times editorial:

But what is more worrisome is that these specific manifestations may reflect xenophobia that is encouraged by the dominant institutions of Korean society….In 2002, pollsters from the Pew Survey on Global Attitudes interviewed more than 40,000 people in 46 countries around the world…One of the questions they asked was whether respondents agreed with the statement that “our people are not perfect, but our culture is superior to others”.

Here are the results:
France: 40% agreement
Russia, U.S.: 60% agreement
Japan: 75% agreement.
South Korea: 90% agreement, the highest score of any country in the world.


Paradoxically, while an astonishing share of Koreans apparently feel culturally superior to the rest of the world, they also apparently lack confidence in that culture’s resilience—five out of six Koreans think it should be protected from foreign influence.

People describe the thinking of the inhabitants of island countries as “insular”, but that’s more insularity than I’ve seen in Japan in nearly a quarter of a century. Maybe that’s a “pan-insular” philosophy for the residents of a peninsula.

We’ve already heard from Tony Blair and H.L. Mencken, so let’s finish with a comment by former U.S. President Harry S Truman. He is reported to have said, “I really feel sorry for my fellow citizens who read the newspaper every morning and thereby think they have an idea of what is happening in the world.”

The people I feel sorry for are the South Koreans who actually spend money to read The Hankyoreh.

Addendum: After all that, I don’t have the heart to translate this article from JanJan about the current Japan Wave of films in South Korea. One new Japanese movie opening every week…35 Japanese movies shown last year, attracting 1.2 million viewers, particularly women in their 20s…occurring during an overall downturn in the Korean movie industry…total audience down 17.3% during the first quarter, compared to the previous year…audience for Korean films down 41%…One person quoted said, “The time has come to learn from Japanese cinema”…

What the heck. Maybe JanJan is just a viewspaper, too. Maybe they took their cue from The Hankyoreh and made it all up.

Now for some of the comments.......................................................

GI Korea

The Hanky is a leftist newspaper that no one besides leftist hacks that very few people take seriously (like the current Korean president) reads. So I wouldn’t put to much stock in what the Hanky writes.

The two big newspapers the Chosun Ilbo and the Joong Ang Ilbo are better then the Hanky but even they still editorialize and sensationalize the news to sell papers, just like what western papers have become.

# bY aceface....

OK.Where can I start…

I happened to work in a media which is considered to be one of the main engine of Korean wave in Japan.And I can safely say that the whole stuff was pretty much planned to boost the friendly atomosphere toward Korea and by seizing the momentum of 98 Obuchi-Kim summit(in theory that was the end of all tha apology diplomacy….)and 2002 world cup and 2005 Japan/Korea friendship year,turn the two countries relation into new phase.

Koreans agreed to open the contury for the Japanese culture inch by inch(though as of year 2007,it is still not allowed to broadcast Japanese language on ground wave,which means no J-pops and J-dramas,but only on cable TV),they were pretty worried about “cultural invasion”and to make Korean feel that the road goes both way,GoJ was asked very vaueguly to promote Korean culture in Japan and NHK and Dentsu stood for the task.And there you have Kusanagi Tsuyoshi of SMAP learning Korean language and become “Choe Nang Kang” and NHK satellites(and ground wave)showered “Winter Sonata”endlessly to the nation.Coincidentally it was the time of renaissance in Korean cinema and there were a few good films.So there you have it.Korean wave.

At first Korean were pretty gentle.I mean after all it was quasi cultural exchange like mission that nobody felt it would be a phenomenon.and then things starts to slip after Yonsama become nation wide sensation.And even though Korean wave is a nitche genre in Japan,there is a working copyright protection scheme in this country.So Korean company could raise fairly good amount of money for sales on DVD unlike Hallyu boom in Mongolia or Vietnam.

So they become ambitious.Start to place ripoff price for the product which eventually led to the bubble.There are fan of Korean entertainment remaining and continue to exist in this country,but I don’t think there will be any gold rush like the past few years without the help of J-media powerhouse’s muscle,of which was the true dynamo of the Korean Wave.

Now what GI Korea had said about Chosen Ilbo and Joongang Ilbo.Many of my colleague thinks they are nothing but a trash.Since they are not as anti-American like Hankyoreh,GI may have modest idea about the two.But I see little or no difference in it’s quality,especially when it comes to Japan related article.

I have no idea why these editors wanted to put the Japanese version on the web.But because of the Yahoo Japan,these Korean paper’s articles with full of anti-Japanese sentiment inside are shown to Japanese through Yahoo news everyday.The Japanese youth who read these paper’s(and another national daily Donga Ilbo’s)Japanese edition on the web start to rear strong anti-Koreanism of which was none existent in this country.(there were prejudice to zainichi Koreans before but that is mostly deteriorated due to the fact that most are not regarded as foreigners anymore,so the target of the prejudice had shifted to other foreigners like Chinese or Brazilian migrant workers).

So I wouldn’t surprise Korean wave cannot find fans in new generation.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Former USFK Commander Denies US Involvement in Gwangu Uprising

In an email to CJ Entertainment, retired General John A. Wickham, the USFK commander at the time of the Gwangju Uprising of May 1980, denied US involvement in the bloody suppression of that uprising. [Kyunghyang Shinmun, Korean]

The email was in response to a request made to him by CJ Entertainment to explain the US role in the Gwangju Uprising. CJ Entertainment is preparing for the release of its film “May 18” next month (see Twitch post on the movie here).

Wickham said the New Military Group — the young military coup leaders led by soon-to-be dictator/president Chun Doo-hwan — did not tell the United States it was sending paratroopers to Gwangju. He said both he and then-US Ambassador William Gleysteen (since deceased) were shocked when they first learned that military operations were underway to put down the protests, and immediately issued protests to high-ranking ROK military officials.

He did acknowledge, however, that Seoul required approval from US-led Combined Forces Command to carry out operations with the ROK 20th Infantry Division, which was deployed to Gwangju to retake the city after the brutal paratrooper crackdown turned the pro-democracy protests into a full-fledged urban uprising. Wickham explained that the Korean defense minister, requesting temporary operation command of the 20th Infantry Division, said the unit was well-trained to put down riots and that it would be better to use the division — rather than the paratroopers — to retake the city.

Wickham said the tragic incident in Gwangju was something Korean authorities would have to deal with. It was, he said, essentially a domestic Korean matter.

Well, it was nice of CJ Entertainment to at least take the time to ask.

AND SOME OF THE COMMENTS LEFT ON THIS ARTICLE..............................

Prior to Kwangju uprising,

1. Nearly all known Commie sympathizers have gathered at Kwangju.
2. Kim DaeJung is known to have directed the whole uprising.

During Kwanju uprising,
1. No other cities have joined Kwangju. Not even nearby Jolla cities. This madness (or Commie plot) was confined to Kwangju and Commies gathered there.
2. These “freedom fighters” tried desperately to contact North Korea. More about these will come out in next administration.

After Kwangju uprising,
1. Chun DoHwan was voted in as the president of the Republic of Korea. Even though people hated his “evil” deeds, people realized the Kwangju Commies were even more dangerous. Without Kwangju, people might have denounced Chun, but after Kwanju there was no other choice but Chun to bring peace in South Korea.

2. Kwanju uprising only heightened the fear among SK population and highlighted the need for strong(=military) leadership.

Under last two administrations,
1. Lies about Kwangju has spread under the administrations direct involvement and/or indirect support.
2. The Communists’ involvement in Kwangju uprising was intentionally deleted.
3. Kwangju uprising was renamed “Kwangju Democracy Movement”.

In next administration (if the real patriots take control),
1. Real facts about Kwangju uprising will come out including the actions taken by Commies.
2. Korean military actions will be judged and justified as the actions correct under the circumstance.
3. “Kwangju Democracy Movement” will be renamed as “Kwangju Communist Uprising”, which is the correct name.

When General Chun brought his troops from DMZ to Seoul to fight his own fellow soldiers and to grab power, initially the true patriots fought his troops.

However, it soon became apparent that fighting Chun would only give the advantage to NK and likely to start another war between SK and NK. At that point, all Korean patriots stopped fighting Chun. It was choosing less evil of the two.

All Korean people understood this decision. Except Kwangju Commies. They wanted to fight on and even give the country to NK Commies.


While I do not condone Gen. Chun and his lieutenant Noh, I hate these Kwanju Commies even more. They wanted to gain power at all cost. Even giving Kim IlSung to take SK by force.


General Chun turned out to be an OK person. He was not a dictator. He stepped down and gave a fair election after his five-year term. People voted his lieutenant, Noh, to continue Chun’s policy.

When his term was ending, Noh, gave power to non-military leadership, president Kim YoungSam, who was voted in.

Korea was saved from a Commie uprising. Presidents were elected by majority votes.


Foreign ‘Beauty’ Claims Professor Offered to Trade Grades for Sex


And from the Ministry of Complete Tabloid Crap, we have this tale — the Ilgan Sports reports that on Sunday’s episode of KBS’s talk show “The Beauties’ Chatterbox,” Japanese college student Sagawa Junko caused a stir by claiming that one of her Korean university professors offered to give her a good grade in return for sex.

During the episode, in which the ladies were discussing incidents of sexual harassment they’d experienced in Korea, Junko said that in her freshman year, she’d missed several classes in one of her courses. She then received a call from the professor of the class, who told her that Japanese women are better in the sack then Korean women, and that if she slept with him, he wouldn’t penalize her for her missed classes. Or so she claimed.

Viewers were shocked.

She followed up her admission by claiming that said professor had propositioned other foreign students from Asia, including another Japanese student, in a similar fashion.

According to the Ilgan Sports, netizens flooded the bulletin board of her Korean university with angry posts, although a few apparently objected to Junko making such a confession on TV. The PD of the show, however, defended the program’s decision to air the admission. For what it’s worth, I could see how it might have been a difficult call — that’s the kind of accusation that can destroy a person’s life.

Meanwhile, in a secret poll taken of the 16 foreign women who appeared on Sunday’s show, 12 said they’d been sexually harassed in Korea.

In an exclusive interview with the Ilgan Sports, Junko said she has no regrets about making her admission on TV, and said her school was investigating the professor in question.

Interestingly enough, another girl who appears on the show, Chinese student Shang Fang, told the Ilgan Sports in a telephone interview that she’d been harassed by the same professor.

Not that we’re looking for intellectually enriching content from any of this, but if you read Korean, the Ilgan Sports’ Song Won-seop actually made the effort to turn this incident into a fairly thoughtful column.

UPDATE: Junko’s school told Star News that the accused individual was not a professor, but a lecturer teaching at the university’s language school on a temporary basis.

UPDATE 2: Star News also notes that Sunday’s program has become a “hot potato” in Netizenland. Some felt ashamed about the girls’ experiences, while at least one noted that the show itself amounts to sexual harassment.

UPDATE 3: The Chosun Ilbo reports that the instructor at Junko’s school — the Korean language institute of Hanguk University of Foreign Studies — has turned in his resignation. The school also noted, however, that Junko said the instructor approached her about grades, but the Korean language institute doesn’t give grades, so her story wasn’t entirely convincing, either.


NOW FOR A FEW COMMENTS ABOUT THE ABOVE ARTICLE...............................

I worked at 외대 and my students tell me all the time how common this is amongst certain teachers, and there’s even one professor there that several students separately told me about (we talked about the issue of sexual harassment during a lecture) is well-known for saying that he gives A’s to any girl who continues to wear short skirts – and actually, a lot of girls come in wearing short skirts in that that class.

People apparently think he’s a “colorful” professor. Real funny guy.

This sort of behavior is so common and accepted that such public displays of sexual harassment are 1) either not reported, or 2) not taken seriously.

And as for the expectation of putting out for a grade, I was clearly propositioned by a STUDENT who never came to class and suddenly showed up wanting an A. It apparently worked for her a lot, and she was pretty distressed when I failed her ass.

“Oh, but I won’t graduate and I won’t get a job!”

Perhaps coming to class once, or even twice? She was one of the people I thought dropped the class after never having showed up. I didn’t even know what she looked like. Then she shows up after the final exam is over, the class is over, everything is over – and tells a sob story so transparent…


“Can’t we discuss this later? Just tell me where to go – I’ll do anything to pass.”

While rubbing my arm, even though we were meeting in the main dining hall. In a short skirt.

Hey, I’m a dirty bird, but not that dirty. Some lines aren’t meant to be crossed and one maintain one’s self-respect.

So, when each semester – yes, one or two of such girls I’ve never seen before in my life show up – I just refuse to meet them (what is there to discuss besides things you don’t want to even put yourself in the position to be tempted to do?) and tell them that since they’ve done nothing, I clearly have no choice, and that if there are extenuating circumstances, to take this up with the Student Affairs office.

Trust me – I get the impression they aren’t turned down too often.


Thanks for the information, dot-squiggle-asterisk.

Like Metro, I am a former university lecturer and heard many rumors from both students and staff of sexual harassment and consensual sex for favors. A former supervising professor was reputed to have threatened three female graduate assistants with failure on their PhD thesis if they did not have sex with him. They all went crying to the lone woman professor in the department, who was powerless to help. Korean universities truly are old boys’ clubs. Even decent male professors who may be personally outraged by sexual harassment allegations will join in circling the wagons to protect the university’s reputation.

Several years ago, some students from university X filed a suit against the university demanding an accounting of the student activity fee collected every semester. The judge, a graduate of the university, ruled against the students, who were subsequently expelled. BY SONAGI

Kids know nothing about Korean War: Korea Times



On the 57th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, the Korea Times reports that fewer and fewer youngsters know anything about the war. One in five, in fact, believe the war was fought between Korea and Japan.

Meanwhile, words of wisdom from the KTU:

“In the past, many focused on teaching children to hate North Koreans and their ideology. The most effective tool was the Korean War, where they were told brutal and inhumane stories,” said Park Tae-dong of the Korean Teacher’s and Education Workers’ Union.

If unification is what we all are aiming for, education should focus on harmonizing and understanding each other rather than to hate each other and call names, he said.

Right… because all that hate should be reserved for the United States, Grand National Party and Chosun Ilbo. And as far as the Korean War is concerned, I guess it would be better to instead teach the kiddies about Nogeun-ni and party with former communist partisans.

UPDATE: The Chosun Ilbo (English) has more:

There were also changes in the historical view of the Korean War. In December 2002, more opted for “a proxy war of the U.S. and the Soviet Union” (44.5 percent) than “an illegal invasion by North Korea” (31.2 percent). In the latest poll, more than a half opted for an illegal invasion by North Korea (52.3 percent), followed by a proxy war (35.7 percent). Among college students, the view that the war was an invasion increased sharply from 17.7 percent to 41.7 percent, while those seeing it as a proxy war declined from 67.2 percent to 54.7 percent.

Read the rest on your own.


“Right… because all that hate should be reserved for the United States, Grand National Party and Chosun Ilbo.”

Robert, this is not what is really happening in South Korea. Some people could have been upset about “apparent” anti-U.S. sentiment in the country, but it was a temporary event and a reaction to certain foreign policy and the SOFA, I would say. Although the Chosun Ilbo sometimes makes valid points, using their “frequently” problematic reports and opinions (not the above one) may hurt your reasoning. BY

Snow, I joined this blog a few weeks ago so that I do not know which articles and topics have been discussed here. South Koreans fight against each other always. When they fight, they usually use very extreme words. I don’t think they would spare such expressions when their interests contradict those of the U.S.

If I can say about some of what South Koreans have in their minds: There are a couple of countries in the world that the majority of South Koreans do NOT fully trust. The U.S. is not one of them. Whatever you might have heard, their average sense of alliance with the U.S. is really deep. I’m neither pro-American nor anti-American. This is simply the fact.

Although a couple of conservative South Korean newspapers have attempted to label Roh as an anti-Amarican, even Roh is not an exception. Roh decided to send troops to Iraq despite strong resistance of the congressmen of his party and his followers. The report of Hans Blix had been known in South Korea, and people there knew there had been no known WMD. Roh’s reasoning was that the U.S. was the strongest alliance of South Korea, and that to help the U.S. was good for South Korea. A Korean-American lawyer/economist, who had worked (not in the FTA team) with some of those including Kim Hyung-Chong in the South Korean FTA representatives, told me that one of the assumption of the South Korean team was that South Korea should go with the U.S. competing with their neighbor countries, and that various systems of the U.S. are better than those of South Korea (the lawyer/economist does not agree to the latter personally).

(Let me add this: In 2002, there were numerous candle protests. Roh had not attended in any one of them. He actually asked people to calm down. On the other hand, Lee Hoe-Chang, the opposite candidate of Hannara, joined a protest in December. Lee demanded apologies from the U.S. government several times in his presidential campaign.)

About anti-FTA demonstrations: It is obvious that the agriculture industry is likely to be wiped out. Although the agriculture industry in South Korea is very small and weak, the industry has a symbolic meaning for South Koreans. On the other hand, the impact of the EU FTA is not known yet. More importantly, the sense of impact by the U.S. much bigger for South Koreans than one by the EU almost in any situation.

BY FRENCH QUARTER...........................

The Chosun Ilbo (English version) also has a short but interesting interview with General Paik Sun-yup (Ret.) on the need to remember the Korean War.

- - - - -

French Quarter said:

Although a couple of conservative South Korean newspapers have attempted to label Roh as an anti-Amarican, even Roh is not an exception. Roh decided to send troops to Iraq despite strong resistance of the congressmen of his party and his followers. The report of Hans Blix had been known in South Korea, and people there knew there had been no known WMD. Roh’s reasoning was that the U.S. was the strongest alliance of South Korea, and that to help the U.S. was good for South Korea.

A couple of papers? A lot more than that, I’m afraid. Roh rode the anti-American wave to office and has undeniably been a useful idiot/wedge for use by North Korea since. Roh talked the talk concerning USFK and alliance, but his actual policy decisions tell the true story and to not mesh with rhetoric of being allies. The decision to send Koreans to Iraq was done with much hand wringing and was in no way a sincere gesture of support; his administration made it clear that they felt they had not choice but to do so, and were not happy about it.

It’s Roh’s and South Korea’s prerogative to be that way, but let’s be real and call a spade a spade.

On Blix I think you grossly oversimplify;

U.S. government analysts were not alone in these views. In the late spring of 2002 I participated in a Washington meeting about Iraqi WMD. Those present included nearly twenty former inspectors from the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), the force established in 1991 to oversee the elimination of WMD in Iraq. One of the senior people put a question to the group: Did anyone in the room doubt that Iraq was currently operating a secret centrifuge plant? No one did. Three people added that they believed Iraq was also operating a secret calutron plant (a facility for separating uranium isotopes).

Other nations’ intelligence services were similarly aligned with U.S. views. Somewhat remarkably, given how adamantly Germany would oppose the war, the German Federal Intelligence Service held the bleakest view of all, arguing that Iraq might be able to build a nuclear weapon within three years. Israel, Russia, Britain, China, and even France held positions similar to that of the United States; France’s President Jacques Chirac told Time magazine last February, “There is a problem—the probable possession of weapons of mass destruction by an uncontrollable country, Iraq. The international community is right … in having decided Iraq should be disarmed.” In sum, no one doubted that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. (emphasis added)

I’m not trying to hi-jack this into a pre-war intel debate, the quote is only to counter the bit of revisionism concerning what was known, esp by Korea. BY RICHARDSON

You mean you’ve been following Roh since back around the days in which he was petitioning for the withdrawal of US troops? You mean the period in which he built up his anti-US credentials to the point he was the natural candidate to win over the Korean voters during their frantic, patrioticism-boosting frency in 2002 —- built up his credentials to such a solid footing in the masses that he didn’t have to take part in the massive street demonstrations like his opponent, Mr. Bamboo, felt the need to.

I started using the term “anti-US” to help avoid getting sucked into these “see, no white people being lynched in the street… beheadings…..They are clearly not anti-American” debates.

See. Most South Koreans don’t want US troops to leave.

Nope. No anti-Americanism here. All is well. All is well.

See. It’s Bushie’s fault. All will be well after the election.

If it isn’t —-

See. The US did this. And then that. And then there was Bushie…..Whatever the case, nobody is stringing up Americans in the street. All is well.

Why not just stick to the justification angle? You (the generic you) can do so without the Bushie canard too.

There’s no true anti-US sentiment in Korea.

A little tracking after 운동권, you’ll conclude so.
임수경, 권인숙, 김민석, 임종석, etc.

They just pretended/pretend to be anti-American to get the power.

The gist is power; anti-American sentiment is not important.

I agree down to the “not important” part.

What term can we use besides “anti-American”?

How about patriotic whore-monger?

That would explain why South Korean society as a whole likes to bend the US in Korea over and ream it in the —explitive self-deleted— while keeping it handy at the same time.

I didn’t need thousands of editorials to get that.

I got it between 1996-2000 teaching Korean adults…. BY USINKOREA.

NOW FOR THIS, ITS JUST TOO FUNNY.....................

Kim Jong-il’s approval rating drops to 120%



It seems like the controversy over U.S. beef being admitted (or not) back into South Korea will never end…not too long ago, four cases of beef (totalling 287 pounds) that were meant for domestic consumption in the U.S. were found in a larger shipment to South Korea and Tyson Foods, the original company that processed the meat, was banned by South Korean authorities. I’m usually not a conspiracy theorist, but I did find this pretty interesting [emphasis is mine]:

A spokesman for Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson, Gary Mickelson, said that, “contrary to South Korean news reports, Tyson Foods did not ship the beef in question.” “We produced it for domestic sale and consumption,” he said Tuesday. “The product was sold by Tyson Foods to a Minnesota company, which resold the product to Iowa-based Midamar Corp. “Midamar mistakenly exported the beef to South Korea several weeks ago without our knowledge, involvement or permission,” he said. “We’re once again working through USDA in hopes of quickly resolving this problem.” Mickelson would not say which two plants were involved. The company has several facilities in Nebraska. A spokesman for Midamar Corp. of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, said his company did not send the four boxes to South Korea. Darrin O’Brien, who works in export sales for Midamar, said they were sent to a South Korean company in California, which he said he would not identify. He also said he didn’t know what that company had done with the samples.

Make of that what you will. (Hat tip to GI Korea)


I was watching KBS1 last night and they had did an uncover report on how cab drivers in Seoul particularly at Incheon Airport were overcharging foreigners. The cab drivers had found techniques to rig their meters so that when a foreigner takes a cab they would hit a button that would speed up the meter to charge the foreigner more than a Korean customer who would better know how much the cab fare from the airport should cost.

KBS pointed out that a cab fare from the airport into Seoul should cost about 48,500 won while the cab driver they did the uncover report on cost 67,500 won. A cab fare that is 19,000 won more expensive converts to about $20 US dollars more in expense for foreigners. The report also had interviews with foreigners in Seoul who told other stories of how the cab drivers try to rip them off.

I have never taken a taxi from the airport, I always use the airport bus or the subway train that is now available as well. So I can’t really add any personal experiences about the airport taxi drivers, but the fact that they are ripping off foreigners does not surprise me. Also with Seoul taxi drivers I have never had any problems with as well. I’m sure there are crooked cab drivers there, but personally I have had no problems which I think suggests that only a really small minority are crooked.

The only places I have had regular issues with taxi drivers are in Uijongbu and Dongducheon where they love to play the game of not running the meter and than charging GIs an overpriced fare at the end of the ride. A tactic I used to combat this is to simply not pay the cab driver. If he doesn’t run the meter it is a free ride. The cab drivers scream and yell and one time a cab driver tried to get the police stationed in front of Camp Red Cloud to arrest me. I simply showed the policemen the meter which had zero on it and the policemen had no issues and let me go into the camp.

I even had one cab driver stop in the middle of the ride and stop the meter and then try to negotiate an overpriced fair with me and my buddy. If we didn’t agree we would have to get out of the cab in an area where he knew we would have to walk a long ways to find another cab. I just simply started writing down his information from the panel in the taxi. He asked me what I was doing and I told him I was going to contact his taxi company as well as file a complaint with the local authorities. The taxi driver started the meter again really quick and got us to our destination in no time.

The cab drivers in Uijongbu and Dongducheon is something I wish KBS or someone in the Korean media would do an expose on because they regularly screw over soldiers and really portray a bad image of Korea to the soldiers serving in the 2nd Infantry Division.

The news media had the undercover footage of the cab ride and they had another cab following the cab in question that had the meter running at the actual rate. Then they had interviews with foreigners that had been ripped off. It was a legit report.

Like I said before I have never taken a cab from the airport so I can’t personally attest to it, but I have related my experiences with Uijongbu and Dongducheon cab drivers which makes such behavior by cab drivers from the airport quite likely.


There is probably no better way to muddy Japanese accusations that North Korea kidnapped numerous Japanese citizens than to produce a counter accusation that can’t be proved, which is far more proactive than mere denial.

The sad truth here is that a woman defected to Japan but was almost certainly faced with the prospect of having her family tortured and killed if she did not return to North Korea to be their counter example. If she ever re-defects, she’s also on record talking about mental stress and drug and alcohol abuse, which North Korea would use to discredit her statements:

In a bizarre public relations foray, North Korea on Tuesday paraded a woman who had allegedly been kidnapped and taken to Japan but returned home after she went half-mad with longing for her children.

The woman, identified as 57-year-old To Chu-Ji, appeared at a press conference in North Korea’s Beijing embassy, attended by dozens of reporters who mostly had expected the briefing to deal with the nation’s nuclear programme.

“I’m a citizen of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, who was forcefully abducted to Japan,” To said, referring to North Korea by its official name.

In October 2003, she was “cheated by some bad people and crossed the Tumen river unintentionally” from North Korea into China, said To, a slight, bespectacled woman with her hair tied in a knot at the back of her head.

She was taken to the Japanese consulate general in the northeast Chinese city of Shenyang, where she spent two weeks before heading for Japan, she said.

A similar route is believed to have been taken by hundreds, perhaps thousands, of North Koreans in recent years, feeling starvation and oppression at home.

[. . .]

From November 2003 until June this year, To lived in the Japanese city of Matsudo, but became “almost crazy with longing” for her five children, she said.

“Whenever I exchanged letters and telephone calls with my children, it started and ended with tears. When I was in my room alone I made my pillow wet with tears from longing for my children,” she said.

“I spent almost every night with sleeping drugs and alcohol, almost like a hypochondriac and psychopath.”

She finally decided to go home after she was informed that her second son-in-law had served in the army and gone to Communist Party school.

There were no explanations for how To left Japan unhindered or how she contacted relatives by mail and phone while supposedly being held captive, giving rise to suspicions she was a refugee.

To said she had been born in Japan, apparently to ethnic Korean parents, but moved back to North Korea in 1960.

[. . .]

To finished the press conference by singing a traditional North Korean song in a trembling voice, flanked by unsmiling officials.


Now for some personal items, I have now been at Woosong University for 1 year. I like it here and hope to stay for many more. Hopefully, soon, I can get a better apartment.

Next week I am on a one week vacation, to be honest, I really do not have any major plains, just sit at home. sleep, clean up the pace and relax.

I now have 6 weeks of Vacation and I will probably take that in the winter. Maybe to New Zealand, we shall see.

i have still been going to the baseball games, a few eeks ago I was teaching baseball to some people that I had met from Germany. It was a nice game to watch.

The summer schedule, is not that bad so it looks like it will be a nice one here.

i am still not sure about the bus situation that happened a few weeks ago here in Daejeon. Looks like nothing is being done. Sad, its really sad.

I have been trying too get all of the Christmas ordering done very early this year and I have a few people left and that will be it. I know its way too early but I'd rather get er done now so, in case any late surprises hit, I will be ready for it.

We finally have new computers at work and they are making it easier to get software working, hope these hold up for awhile.

I am still doing the movie reviews for Pusan and Socius, I will submit my first one for Twitch, this weekend. It looks like HP 5 in Imax next month and in a few months, the PUSAN FILM Festival once again.

Wel thas it for now, its a long read but a good one......
Steroids discovered in probe of slayings, suicide

FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. -- Pro wrestler Chris Benoit strangled his wife, suffocated his 7-year-old son and placed a Bible next to their bodies before hanging himself with the pulley of a weight machine, authorities said Tuesday.

Investigators found prescription anabolic steroids in the house and want to know whether the muscle man nicknamed "The Canadian Crippler" was unhinged by the bodybuilding drugs, which can cause paranoia, depression and explosive outbursts known as "roid rage."

Chris Benoit

Authorities are investigating whether steroids may have been a factor in the deaths of Chris Benoit, above, his wife and child.

Authorities offered no motive for the killings, which were spread out over a weekend, and would not discuss Benoit's state of mind. No suicide note was found.

"In a community like this it's bizarre to have a murder-suicide, especially involving the death of a 7-year-old," District Attorney Scott Ballard said. "I don't think we'll ever be able to wrap our minds around this."

In an interview with on Tuesday, Ballard indicated that the boy had needle marks in his arms. The district attorney said he believed that the boy had been given growth hormones for some time because the family considered him undersized.

That was only one of the strange facts that Ballard revealed. He said that two text messages of note caused authorities to investigate the house. In one, Benoit told somebody he knew that his wife and son were sick.

"Of course, they were dead," Ballard told

In a second message to a neighbor, Benoit said that the door of the house was open and the pets were outside.

"And our assumption is that that was an effort to try and get somebody to come find the bodies after the suicide," Ballard said. "That is our assumption."

The Montreal-born Benoit was one of the stars of the World Wrestling Entertainment circuit and was known for his wholesome family man image. His wife, Nancy, was a wrestling stage manager who worked under the name "Woman." They met and fell in love when their wrestling story lines intertwined.

When he won the world heavyweight championship in 2004, Benoit (pronounced ben-WAH) hoisted the belt over his head and invited his wife and child into the ring to celebrate. Asked by the Calgary Sun that same year to name his worst vice: Benoit replied: "Quality time with my family is a big vice. It's something I'll fight for and crave."

Nevertheless, Nancy Benoit filed for a divorce in 2003, saying the couple's three-year marriage was irrevocably broken and alleging "cruel treatment."

She later dropped the complaint, as well as a request for a restraining order in which she charged that the 5-foot-10, 220-pound Benoit had threatened her and had broken furniture in their home.

In the divorce filing, she said Benoit made more than $500,000 a year as a professional wrestler and asked for permanent custody of Daniel and child support. In his response, Benoit sought joint custody.

The bodies were found Monday afternoon in three rooms of the house, off a gravel road.

Ballard said that Benoit's wife, 43, was killed Friday in an upstairs family room, her feet and wrists were bound and there was blood under her head, indicating a possible struggle. Ballard told that it appeared that she had been pinned to the floor and asphyxiated with some sort of cable.

The son, Daniel, was probably killed late Saturday or early Sunday, the body found in his bed, Ballard said. The district attorney indicated that he had been choked to death.

Benoit, 40, apparently killed himself several hours and as long as a day later, Ballard said. His body was found in a downstairs weight room, his body found hanging from the pulley of a piece of exercise equipment. Ballard said that he had used weights, the pulley and cable to choke himself to death.

The prosecutor said he found it "bizarre" that the WWE wrestling star spread out the killings over a weekend and appeared to remain in the house for up to a day with the bodies. Ballard told that investigators smelled what they ascertained to be decomposing bodies when they entered the home. The varying degrees of decomposition between the bodies helped indicate the staggered times of death.

Toxicology test results may not be available for weeks or even months, he said. As for whether steroids played a role in the crime, he said: "We don't know yet. That's one of the things we'll be looking at."

Steroids have been linked to the deaths of several professional wrestlers in recent years. Eddie Guerrero, one of Benoit's best friends, died in 2005 from heart failure linked to long-term steroid use.

The father of Curt "Mr. Perfect" Hennig blamed steroids and painkillers for Hennig's drug overdose death in 2003. Davey Boy Smith, the "British Bulldog," died in 2002 from heart failure that a coroner said was probably caused by steroids.

The WWE, based in Stamford, Conn., issued a statement Tuesday evening saying steroids "were not and could not be related to the cause of death."

"The physical findings announced by authorities indicate deliberation, not rage," the company said, adding that Benoit tested negative April 10, the last time he was tested for drugs.

Benoit was a quiet, roughhewn figure amid the glitz and bluster of pro wrestling. He performed under his real name, eschewed scripted personas and didn't bother to fix a gap where he had lost one of his front teeth. (According to the WWE Web site, he lost the tooth while roughhousing with his pet Rottweiler.)

His signature move was the "Crippler Crossface," in which he would lock his hands around an opponent's face and stretch his neck.

"You always rooted for him, because he was a good guy and he overcame the odds," said Dave Meltzer, editor of the Wrestling Observer, a weekly news letter. "It's like if you watched 'Rocky,' and in the end it comes out that Rocky killed his wife and his son."

He met his wife in the 1990s when she was married to rival wrestler Kevin Sullivan. As part of the scripted rivalry, Benoit and Nancy were supposed to act as if they were having an affair. A real romance blossomed, and she left Sullivan for Benoit.

Neighbors said the Benoits led a low-key lifestyle.

"We would see Chris walking in his yard from time to time. He wasn't rude, but he wasn't really outwardly warm," said Alaina Jones, who lives across the street.

Jimmy Baswell, who was Benoit's driver for more than five years, placed a white wreath at the Benoits' gate. "They always seemed like they were the happiest people," he said.

WWE said on its Web site that it asked authorities to check on Benoit and his family after being alerted by friends who received "several curious text messages sent by Benoit early Sunday morning."

The WWE, based in Stamford, Conn., said authorities asked that it not release further information on the deaths.

"WWE extends its sincerest thoughts and prayers to the Benoit family's relatives and loved ones in this time of tragedy," the company said in a statement on its Web site.

"He was like a family member to me, and everyone in my family is taking it real hard," said fellow Canadian Bret Hart, a five-time champion with the World Wrestling Federation. The federation has since changed its name to World Wrestling Entertainment.

Benoit had maintained a home in Atlanta from the time he wrestled for the defunct World Championship Wrestling. The Fayette County Tax Assessors Office lists the value of the house, on more than 8.5 acres, at nearly $900,000.

The WWE canceled its live "Monday Night RAW" card in Corpus Christi, Texas, after the bodies were discovered.

Monday's show was supposed to be a memorial service for WWE owner Vince McMahon. In a storyline concocted by the WWE, McMahon was supposedly "assassinated" in a limousine explosion two weeks earlier. McMahon appeared at the beginning of Monday's telecast and acknowledged the bombing was made up.

The McMahon storyline has been dropped.

Benoit had two other children from a prior relationship.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Ratatouillie IMDB Link

Opens in Korea. 26 July 2007

How I Saw it. Cam copy.

Plot. Remy is a rat, constantly risking life in an expensive French restaurant because of his love of good food, as well as a desire to become a chef. Yet, obviously, this is a rather tough dream for a rat. But opportunity knocks when a young boy, who desperately needs to keep his job at the restaurant, despite his lack of cooking abilities, discovers and partners the young Remy. Its up to the two of them to avoid the insane head chef, bring the rest of Remy's family up to his standards, win his partner a girl, and, of course, produce the finest Ratatouille in all of France.

Brad Bird has done it again. As in his previous films The Iron Giant and The Incredibles this one is a sure sign of a good director becoming a great one before our very eyes.


To be honest, when I first saw the trailer for this film, I did not think too much of it; A rat who likes good food. Ok, a bad take off of "Mickey Mouse". Then I was able to see a 9 minute preview of this film and I kept thinking, "Pixar, might have something here". After seeing the film, I know they have something here!

I am not a huge fan of the comedy of Patton Oswalt, but in this role, He pulls it off very nicely and This was the first role of Janeane Garofalo that I have liked since CopLand

One of the roles I really enjoyed was the role of the Food Critic, Anton Ego, the role was voiced by Peter O'Toole. Each time that Anton was in the film, it was a legend taking over and I actually believed that he was a food critic, who, could destroy you with one bad review. His review at the end of the film is why very few actors could have played in this role.

The film is simple enough, its about a boy and his rat. You have seen the story before as in Ben or Willard but this one is different. The rat wants to help humans, by being a great cook.

What I really like was the actual story itself. The film was not too long nor was it too short. It had a great flow and a great pace. It was very easy to believe that you are in Paris and that you are just along for the ride.


The film will arrive in Korea on 27 JULY 2007. Please take your family or that someone special. This film deserves to be seen on the big screen.

Grade A+

Gusteau: Food comes to those who love to cook.

Colette: He calls it his "Little Chef".

Thursday, June 21, 2007

comments from last post

Where to start on this. Let me start here. First of all I said sex trafficking of prostitutes which is different from just straight prostitution. Just regular prostitution doesn’t really bother me, but sex trafficking does like literally using barb wire to cage in female prostitutes so they can’t escape which I have seen in Korea.

I highly recommend everyone read this Asia Times article if you think Korea doesn’t have a sexual trafficking problem:

Some how I doubt the 15 dead prostitutes in Kunsan who were killed by a fire due to be jailed in the brothel would agree with anyone who thinks Korea doesn’t have a sexual trafficking problem.

Also Tom I already shot down your ancient stat but like I said before 40 people in three years were arrested in all of Southeast Asia from a nation of 300 million. Frankly I’m surprised it wasn’t higher and is lower per capita than other countries you mentioned.

However in terms of Korean pedophiles you don’t have to look any farther than the small island nation of Kiribati where Korean pedophiles have been flocking too and the Korean government has done little about:

Also in schools this is coming all to common:

I can keep dropping links but I think I have made my point. Sex trafficking is a huge problem in Korea and denying it doesn’t make it go away.

However, with all this said I have consistently stated that the enslavement of Korean women in China today along with promoting human rights for North Koreans in general should be of higher importance than trying to convince Abe to commit seppuku on top of Seoul Tower or the latest manufactured Dokdo crisis.

Dr Yu,

In regards to your question about Eskimos in Alaska. Native Americans in general not just eskimos have their own reservations that are governed by their own laws within the reservations. The reservations that make money from casinos are quite wealthy however some of the reservations are so isolated that they cannot make money from casinos and remain very poor. Combine this with alcoholism and problems arise. Additionally the natives receive government subsidiaries so they will always have food and shelter. However, alcoholism and crime on reservations is something that the tribes with these issues need to solve.

Also this is not a uniquely American problem. Canada has the same issues and in Australia they have an even worse issue with the aborigines. However, this all has nothing to do with sex trafficking.

Also Dr. Yu I am well aware of the significance of the Japanese occupation. My father in law is 74 years old and has told me plenty about it. My mother in law is 68 and she had little interaction with the Japanese because she lived way out in a rural area and attended a school that taught in Korean. Only the government funded schools taught in Japanese. Schools set up by local villagers could teach in Korean. However if you went to one of these schools you were greatly disadvantaged because to attend a university you had to attend a public school. To get in government job you had to speak Japanese.

My father in law on the other hand attended a Japanese school knows Japanese but refuses to speak it. He is bitter about the occupation but you know what he doesn’t dwell on it either. The people who dwell on it now are mostly people who didn’t even live through it like Tom.

My father in law also fought in the Korean War and is more bitter at the Chinese and North Koreans for dividing the country. The Japanese never divided the country and the Japanese did not kill no where near as many Koreans as both the Chinese and the North Koreans. The horrors of the Korean War resonate with both my in laws a whole lot more than the Japanese colonization. The Japanese during the colonization tried to break the spirit of Koreans to enslave them, this was doomed to failure because I have been around Koreans long enough to know you can’t break their spirit. The North Korean communist and the Chinese tried to enslave all Koreans through open warfare that ended with disastrous consequences for the Korean people.

Let me state my positions clearly. I have consistently stated Abe should issue an apology for the comfort women issue at some large event, maybe at the UN but something widely public. I have also stated Japan should become a champion for North Korean human rights in a way to make amends for the past sins of the nation against the Korean people. Some how I don’t find making demands for seppuku on top of Seoul Tower useful and such arguments only make Koreans look irrational. What I state is a rational way to address the issue.

Also if the Japanese government withdraws its 1993 apology and the Japanese government start buying adds like this one in the Washington Post than it time to start condemning them which I have stated repeatedly

Also I have consistently stated that the South Korean government should do more to promote the human rights of North Koreans and quit giving unconditional an unmonitored aid to the North Korean regime. When Korea reunites how do you think the citizens of that nation are going to react to the ROK government’s legitimacy over them after they learn for how long the SK government had sold them out to Kim Jong-il for all these years to simply delay unification so SK citizens would not have to pay more in taxes to help their North Korean brothers and sisters? Look at East Germany and West Germany. They are still having issues integrating and if NK was to collapse tomorrow integrating the North Koreans into the ROK would be 10 times harder than what Germany had to do and the conditions in NK are only getting worse. How bad will it be in lets say 20 years from now when NK finally collapses. By SK putting off the inevitable is only ensuring they one day absorb an even more broken people if they even have the chance to absorb them before China does.

Maybe I was wrong, maybe the Korean spirit can be broken. It can only be broken by Koreans themselves which is happening right now in North Korea which Japan has absolutely nothing to do with. When I continue to follow the unfolding tragedy in North Korea how can I not feel cynical when I hear demands for Abe to apologize for the millionth time? If Kim Jong-il committed seppuku on top of Seoul Tower that would do the Korean people a whole lot more good than Abe doing it.

# 30 Dan Jun 21st, 2007 at 3:04 am


You pulled out a double-barreled 12 gauge, and let loose with both of them. I also learned some things. Well done! And from the Heart.

I knew unification will be difficult. You opened my eyes to just how badly it will be.

Wish I could help in some way. Na, the ROK has had too much help already. They don’t seem to like help.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More on the Comfort Women Ad

Since some of the commentors have asked, I’ve quickly jotted down some commentary as to why I find the WaPo

From Fact 1:

No historical document has ever been found my historians or research organizations that positively demonstrate that women were forced against their will into prostitution by the Japanese Army. A search of the archives at the Japan Center for Asian Historical Records…”

Fact 1 neglects to mention, however, that one reason documentary evidence may be lacking is because Japan had 15 days between surrender and the arrival of the occupation forces to burn its documents:

The difference between the German and Japanese surrenders had a profound influence on each country’s documentation of the army, navy and the war in general. The rapid pace of the Allied advance through Germany meant that a large quantity of historically important material was requisitioned before it could be destroyed. In contrast, Japan had plenty of time to dispose of its records between the announcement of the surrender on 15 August and the landing of Allied forces on 30 August.[1] During this period some 2.5 million Japanese troops remained under the command of the Japanese armed forces, and before the arrival of the Allies they undertook the “Great Incineration Operation” ordered by the government. There is no evidence that measures to stop this destruction of records were taken by the Allies even after their arrival in Japan, though a “strong recommendation” against further destruction was apparently issued from GHQ (according to the Washington Document Centre).

One can only guess at the percentage of documents that was destroyed in the ten weeks between the surrender and the order to halt the incineration. When considering this question in the past I estimated that 99 per cent was incinerated, but I have come to think recently that it is closer to 99.9 per cent. Even the remaining 0.01 per cent has not received adequate historical examination because this period has traditionally been the preserve of political scientists. Recently, however, it has at last become possible for historians such as myself to make advances in this field and to establish the whereabouts of these materials.

More from Fact 1:

On the contrary, many documents were found warning private brokers not to force women to work against their will.

Amazing how those documents apparently didn’t get burnt. And at any rate, the fact that such directives existed on paper doesn’t mean that they translated into practice — the fact that Korea does, in fact, have laws on the books against prostitution and periodically conducts “crackdowns” doesn’t change the fact that the country has long looked the other way at the practice.Even the United States Office of War Information report sited in the WaPo ad says about the recruiting:

Early in May of 1942 Japanese agents arrived in Korea for the purpose of enlisting Korean girls for “comfort service” in newly conquered Japanese territories in Southeast Asia. The nature of this “service” was not specified but it was assumed to be work connected with visiting the wounded in hospitals, rolling bandages, and generally making the soldiers happy. The inducement used by these agents was plenty of money, an opportunity to pay off the family debts, easy work, and the prospect of a new life in a new land, Singapore. On the basis of these false representations many girls enlisted for overseas duty and were rewarded with an advance of a few hundred yen.

Or how about this US Army document, Kunming-REG-OP-3:

With the exception of Mrs.Hwang Nam-suk, all of the 23 women became “comfortgirls”, apparently under compulsion and misrepresentation. The fifteen who left Korea in July, 1943, for example, were recruited through advertisements in Korean newspapers offering employment for girls in Japanese factories in Singapore. The contingent with which they were sent southward included at least 300 girls who were similarly misled.

Those warning didn’t do a whole lot of good, apparently.

From Fact 2:

There are many newspaper articles, moreover, that demonstrate that these directives were dutifully carried out. The August 31, 1939 issue of the Dong-A Ilbo…

Well, if you can’t believe a pro-Japanese newspaper founded by collaborator extraordinaire Kim Song-su in a colony run by a militarist dictatorship, who can you believe? I guess next we’ll be citing the Rodong Shinmun as evidence that Megumi Yokota really is dead. At any rate, I’ll grant for the moment that the Dong-A Ilbo report (as well as the “many other newspaper articles”) may be factually accurate. After all, I’ve read stories about Korean police conducting campaigns to make drivers respect the stop line. I’ve even seen said campaign with my own two eyes. Back to the point, however, both US Army documents (including the one cited in the ad) and testimonies by former comfort women indicate that many of the women who ended up in the camps were tricked into it. So if those directives were “dutifully carried out,” as the ad claims, even the documentary evidence it cites later on (albeit for a different point) says otherwise. Of course, the number of women in the reports and testimonies, even if completely reliable, are only a fraction of the number who served as “comfort women,” so it’s hard to compute actual percentages, and I seriously doubt we’ll ever find actual statistics in whatever Japanese records may have survived the flames of late August 1945.

Going on, from Fact 3:

There were admittedly cases, though, of breakdowns in discipline.

You don’t say. Again, the two reports suggest and testimonies suggest many women were working against their will, and the officers responsible were not punished — in the Burma camp, the colonel in charge of the camp deserted to avoid enemy capture, while there is no mention of the fate of the commanding officers in the Chinese camp in the part of the report I’ve seen. Since they bring up the Indonesian case, however, it does beg the question, as commenter Jing once pointed out, whether serving as a “comfort woman” counts as “rape” only when it involves white women. From Yuki Tanaka (or a review thereof):

Why did the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal hear mass evidence regarding the ill-treatment, rape and murder of Allied soldiers and civilians and fail to consider evidence of systemic crimes against ‘comfort’ women? One explanation, Tanaka suggests, is that as most of the ‘comfort’ women were ‘Asian’, rather than Western—the largest exception being Dutch women in the Dutch East Indies—the invisibility of the ‘comfort’ women provides further evidence supporting the ‘absence of Asia’ remarks often made about the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, where both the aggrieved and those giving justice tended to be Western (p. 87). Yet Tanaka does not reconcile this argument with earlier discussion regarding the ‘various testimonies presented at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal regarding the Rape of Nanjing’ (p. 29). He admits that details regarding the rape of Dutch civilian women in March 1942, for example, were raised at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal but argues this was only to provide evidence that crimes had been committed against Allied civilians (pp. 61-3). A more concrete example of the fixation with Western victims, Tanaka suggests, can be seen in the proceedings of the Batavia War Crimes Tribunal, which was conducted by Dutch authorities in February 1948. In one case this tribunal tried twelve Japanese in relation to the forced prostitution of Dutch women held in internment camps in Semarang, Java in 1943 (p. 76). Although Tanaka does not make it clear, the basis of the Dutch prosecution seemed to be the Geneva Convention of 1929. While not a signatory to the convention, Japan had given a qualified promise to follow the Geneva rules in 1942, one of which prohibited forced prostitution of prisoners-of-war. Disappointingly, Tanaka does not pursue a line of inquiry as to whether Indo-Dutch, Indonesian, Filipino, or perhaps even Korean, ‘comfort’ women could have had a similar status to the Dutch as prisoners-of-war during this period. He merely notes that the Dutch authorities questioned Indonesian, Indo-Dutch and Chinese ‘comfort’ women about their experiences in the Japanese-occupied Dutch East Indies but that only two cases involving non-Dutch women were ever raised at the Batavia War Crimes Tribunal (pp. 78-9). While it might be expected that a separate Dutch war crimes inquiry would focus on Dutch women in this manner, Tanaka seems to imbue the Batavia War Crimes Tribunal with responsibility for a regional jurisdiction, to which it failed to respond adequately. It appears to Tanaka, therefore, that the victimisation of predominantly Asian ‘comfort’ women inevitably took second-place to other war crimes investigated and prosecuted by the Allies.

However, Tanaka’s primary argument is that the Allied nations’ own ’sexual ideology’—their treatment of non-Western women prior to the war, their practice and attempt to cover-up military-controlled prostitution during the war and their complicity in the establishment of a similar ‘comfort’ system for Allied personnel during the Occupation in Japan—is a telling factor in the lack of Allied prosecution (p. 87). Regarding the Dutch East Indies, for example, Tanaka argues that as the Dutch sexually exploited large numbers of Indonesian women while a colonial power in the region, it followed that the sexual abuse of Indonesian and Indo-Dutch women by the Japanese would probably not have been viewed by the Dutch as a serious crime (p. 82). During the war itself, Tanaka clarifies that the Allied ’sexual ideology’ made it ‘quite natural that [the Allies] were completely unable to discern the criminal nature of the comfort women system’ (p. 109). As the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian of Japan, John Dower, notes in a short review printed on the back of the volume, this is a ’stunning and controversial’ new direction of analysis.

About Fact 4: I find it interesting that it starts by pointing out that the “comfort women” testimony itself supports the notion that the Japanese military did not directly impress women into sexual slavery, but then points out that the women’s testimony is unreliable because it has changed “since the start of the anti-Japanese campaign.” So, are we then to take it that the testimony that they weren’t whisked away by the Japanese Army is reliable, but tales of abuse aren’t?

From Fact 5:

The iafu who were embedded with the Japanese Army were not, as is commonly reported, “sex slaves.” They were working under a system of licensed prostitution that was commonplace around the world at the time. Many of the women, in fact, earned incomes far in excess of what were paid to field officers and even generals (as reported by the United States Office of War Information, Psychological Warfare Team Attached to US Army Forces, India-Burma Theater APO 689) and there are many testimonies attesting to the fact that they were well treated.

This is the most offensive part, IMHO, owing particularly to that last line — well treated, indeed! It also indicates that the ad goes beyond the usual “redefining coercion” (unless, of course, it’s to redefine “coercion” away from “tricked into it by local pimps,” as I’d like to think Shinzo Abe meant it, to “coerced by poverty”) to present the comfort women as highly paid, well-treated prostitutes. The odd thing is, even the report the ad itself chose to cite (which, coincidentally, I don’t entirely trust — the “personality” description leads me to wonder about the individual who wrote it) to prove how well-paid they were ALSO indicates that many of the women at the Burma camp that was surveyed were deceived into their positions, contradicting Fact 2. Sorry for re-citing, but:

Early in May of 1942 Japanese agents arrived in Korea for the purpose of enlisting Korean girls for “comfort service” in newly conquered Japanese territories in Southeast Asia. The nature of this “service” was not specified but it was assumed to be work connected with visiting the wounded in hospitals, rolling bandages, and generally making the soldiers happy. The inducement used by these agents was plenty of money, an opportunity to pay off the family debts, easy work, and the prospect of a new life in a new land, Singapore. On the basis of these false representations many girls enlisted for overseas duty and were rewarded with an advance of a few hundred yen.

So, is this the form of “licensed prostitution that was commonplace around the world at the time?” Tricking girls to Southeast Asia with false advertisements and putting them to work as prostitutes serving the army of the colonial overlord once they got there? And even if it were, would the fact that other colonial powers took sexual advantage of colonial women make Japan’s behavior any better? Would the fact that both Japan and Korea continued the practice for US troops after the war make a difference? I don’t think so.

Also from Fact 5:

There are records of soldiers being punished for acts of violence against the women. Many countries set up brothels for their armies, in fact, to prevent soldiers from committing rape against private citizens. (In 1945, for instance, Occupation authorities asked the Japanese government to set up hygienic and safe “comfort stations” to prevent rape by American soldiers.)

Where there’s an army base, there’s a brothel. Fine. You can even find brothels in areas with no military presence at all. But if the US had, let’s say, supplied its army brothels in Japan with, say, Filipino women tricked into it by local recruiters while US colonial administrators turned a blind eye, it’s a different story. That’s human trafficking and, yes, sexual slavery. And for what it’s worth, in “Embracing Defeat,” John W. Dower included a very disturbing account of those “hygienic and safe” comfort stations set up in 1945 (can’t find my copy at the moment) — if the inclusion of the last sentence was supposed to make be feel better about the comfort women’s plight, it doesn’t.

For the record, I’d think there’s a lot of bullshit going around in Japan, Korea and the United States about the comfort women.

Korea couldn’t have cared less about the comfort women for most of its post-Liberation history (for a number of reasons, including the low social position of women until very recently and the fact that the country was run by Japanese collaborators for much of that history, including 18 years by a man who spent WWII as a second lieutenant in the Japanese Army), and moreover, if it really wanted to be honest about what happened, it would start with the realization that most of the girls were probably sold to the Japanese Army by collaborating Korean brokers.

Meanwhile, it’s hard to make what the current Japanese government (as opposed to the people who ran the ad) is up to, although some of Shinzo Abe’s past statements on the issue don’t bode well. I’m also afraid — sorry for speculating here — that if a concrete definition of “coercion” isn’t arrived upon soon, “coercion” might get watered down into “coerced by circumstances like poverty,” which might then lead to claims that since Japan “helped modernize and develop Korea during colonial rule,” those circumstances were “native Korean poverty,” completely absolving Japan of any guilt whatsoever.

Lastly, we have the Americans. I’ve already explained that I think Rep. Honda’s resolution is a bad idea. Like the United States doesn’t have enough to worry about right now that it’s intervening in the interpretation of other countries’ history. I might also add that judging from the US Army reports cited above, the US knew women were being pressed into sexual service, but apparently didn’t feel Asians raping other Asians warranted inclusion in the Tokyo Tribunal. This probably shouldn’t come as a complete surprise — Washington didn’t feel biological warfare experiments and live vivisections on largely Chinese victims warranted inclusion, either (as long as it got its hands on the data), although abuse of Western POWs did. Moreover, reports indicate US troops would make use of comfort stations during the occupation of Japan and during the Korean War.

In the end, the Korean comfort women suffered abuse at the hands of three governments, including their own.

Japan lawmakers take out full page ad on comfort women

This is definitely not going to help this issue go away:

A group of Japanese lawmakers in a full-page ad in the Washington Post on Thursday denied the Japanese government and military had a hand in conscripting women from Asian countries as sex slaves for the Imperial Army during World War II. Titled “The Facts”, the ad published Wednesday claims “no historical document has ever been found” proving the direct involvement of the Japanese government and military, contrary to a recent U.S. congressional resolution sponsored by the Democrat Representative Mike Honda. The ad was co-sponsored by some Japanese academics, political commentators and journalists.

This ad is going to do nothing to change anyones attitudes about the comfort women issue and will only inflame passions on each side. I have laid out before what I think the Japanese government should do on this issue and I will explain it here again.

I believe that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should turn the tables on all the holier than thou demagogues criticizing Japan over the comfort women issue by apologizing for war time sexual slavery again, but this time in a large public speech to draw maximum media attention. During this speech then announce that Japan to atone for its past sins would become a champion of women’s rights beginning with the plight of modern day sexual slavery of North Korean women in China that both the South Korean and Chinese governments choose to ignore. Than announce that Japan would then start accepting North Korean defectors into Japan and become an outspoken advocate of NK defectors unlike South Korea which has a quasi governmental policy of stopping NK defectors.

Then make sure to have a translation of the speech in English to hand out to reporters so the New York Times can’t intentionally misquote translations again. Such a change in rhetoric and policy would instantly shine a spotlight on the moral bankruptcy of both China and South Korea while simultaneously aiding the plight of the NK defectors.

Would governments and the media go after China like they are currently attacking Japan? Probably not because China consistently gets a pass from the media and international governments, but it should be enough to silence them about the comfort women issue. As it stands now Abe’s approach of fighting over definitions of “coercion” and funding advertisements in the Washington Post only plays into the hands of the demagogues who have no intention of letting this issue go.

Prime Minister Abe could apologize for everything from the comfort women issue and the Nanjing Massacre to the Hideyoshi invasions of Korea starting in 1592 and the Japanese piracy of Shilla and Tang dynasty shipping even before then, followed by committing seppuku on top of Namsan mountain in Seoul for everyone to see and it would still not be enough for these governments because it provides them with a great domestic political weapon to disguise their own government failures by encouraging anti-Japanese sentiment. The only way to combat these demagogues is by making it embarrassing for these nations to bring up more demands for apologies when it would reflect negatively on their own current human rights failures to do so. It would no doubt be a bold measure, but I see no other way of ending the comfort women issue.

Washington Post comfort women ad

GI Korea is reporting on his ROK Drop blog that a group of “Japanese lawmakers” has taken out a full-page ad in the Washington Post stating that “no historical document has ever been found” proving the direct involvement of the Japanese government and military in conscripting comfort women.

Reader Infimum tipped us off that Occidentalism has a large copy of the full page ad itself, with the names of those signing it, here. It’s still a little difficult to read, but you can probably find ways to magnify it. Of interest is that several members of the primary opposition group, the Democratic Party of Japan, also endorsed it. Another prominent name on the document is that of Yoshiko Sakurai, a journalist who was the main anchor on Kyo no Dekigoto, a national news program that ran at roughly 11:00 p.m. for more than 50 years until September last year.

Of even greater interest is that the ad provides the Url for a 20-page article (.pdf file) by Prof. Ikuhiko Hata titled No Organized or Forced Recruitment.

This is worth reading for anyone who has an open mind on the issue. It reveals, for example, that Mike Honda, the sponsor of the House resolution, was also instrumental in the passage of the Hayden Act in the California state legislature. This act allowed parties to sue Japanese companies for “war crimes” a half-century after the fact, demonstrating that the state remains a fount of unctuous and self-righteous political vapidity. The Supreme Court mercifully struck it down as unconstitutional.

Prof. Hata also references the six (!) contradictory stories given by Lee Yong-soo, one of the three former comfort women who gave testimony to the House subcommittee. Two were Korean; neither were coerced by the Japanese. The third was a Dutch national from Indonesia, and Hata reports that a Japanese officer shut down the brothel and freed the women when he discovered its existence. Also, a Dutch military court tried and convicted 11 people in connection with the incident, executing one. Hata uses this incident to demonstrate that the Japanese military did not countenance coercion as a policy, and that the matter in question was legally dealt with years ago.


I agree with GIK when he says the ad is not going to change anyone’s mind; the time for this sort of action was when the issue first erupted a few months ago. He also makes a point I’ve made several times here and elsewhere over the past couple of years, not only about the comfort women in particular, but the war in general:

Prime Minister Abe could apologize for everything from the comfort women issue and the Nanjing Massacre to the Hideyoshi invasions of Korea starting in 1592 and the Japanese piracy of Shilla and Tang dynasty shipping even before then, followed by committing seppuku on top of Namsan mountain in Seoul…and it would still not be enough for these governments because (the issue) provides them with a great domestic political weapon to disguise their own…failures by encouraging anti-Japanese sentiment.

On the other hand, I disagree partly with his proposed solution: a speech by Prime Minister Abe.

…(t)o atone for its past sins, (Japan) would become a champion of women’s rights, beginning with the plight of modern day sexual slavery of North Korean women in China that both the South Korean and Chinese governments choose to ignore. Then announce that Japan would…start accepting North Korean defectors into Japan and become an outspoken advocate of NK defectors, unlike South Korea.

This isn’t a bad idea on the face of it, but one problem with the suggestion is that it would perpetuate the false concept of “women’s rights”. There is no such thing as “women’s rights” or “children’s rights” or “gay rights”, or anything of the sort. Rights are absolute; it is not possible for any group to have its own exclusive collection. An examination of the rights claimed as exclusive would reveal that they either are the same rights possessed by everyone else, or else not really rights at all.

Another problem is that the speech would likely be ignored. Most of the world’s media (which is the real audience here) already overlooks the whaling carried out by such countries as Norway and Iceland to concentrate on Japan’s fleet, for example. In the same way, those in the civil rights profession in the West tend to ignore the contemporary slave trade still conducted in Africa, with other Africans or Arabs as the slaveholders.

Besides, the motivation of the people such a speech would rebut has little, if anything, to do with the surviving comfort women themselves. It was concisely described by Thomas Sowell in the subtitle of his book, The Vision of the Anointed: “Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy”

The real motivation is to see themselves as superior people. This requires inferior, “bad”, non-progressive people to whom they can be favorably compared. It also affords the anointed a turn on the public stage to demonstrate their superiority.

You think not? Pick up any newspaper–you’ll find dozens of examples, none of which has anything to do with comfort women.

comfort women

Robert from the Marmot’s Hole reported on a group of Japanese lawmakers that took out a full page ad in the Washington Post to present the Japanese viewpoint on the comfort woman controversy, and asked “If you’ve got the advert, I’d be keen to take a look at it”.

click here for a full version of the ad

Former Comfort Woman Lee Yong-su will tell about her experience as a comfort woman

n the Ohmynews article, the following was said:

One evening in October 1944, she went outside her house and, without knowing why, was dragged off my Japanese soldiers and taken to a Comfort Station in Taiwan. Reflecting on that time and with tears welling up in her eyes, she said that as she was being dragged off she cried, ‘Mommy, mommy….these people say they are going to kill me. Save me, mommy.’

1944년 10월 어느 날 저녁 그가 집 밖에 나갔다가 영문도 모른 채 일본군에게 끌려간 곳은 대만 일본군 위안소였다. 끌려가면서 “엄마, 엄마… 이 사람들이 나 죽일라고 한다. 엄마 살려줘”라고 울부짖었던 당시의 상황을 회상하며 눈물을 글썽인다.

That story is a little different from the following story, which she told US congessmen this past February link

Statement of

Lee Yong-soo

Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment

Committee on Foreign Affairs

U.S. House of Representatives

Hearing on

Protecting the Human Rights of Comfort Women

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Chairman Faleomavaega and Members of the Subcommittee:

Thank you for this opportunity to come before you today. I am pleased to join with Ms. Jan Ruff O’Herne of the Friends of Comfort Women in Australia and Ms. Koon Ja Kim of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium to share our stories.

I would also like to thank Representative Michael Honda for introducing House Resolution 121, which expresses ‘the sense of the House of Representatives that the Government of Japan should formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Force's coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known to the world as ‘comfort women.’ during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II.’ You have just heard Congressman Honda explain the circumstances that compelled him to sponsor this legislation. Now we would like to add our personal histories to the conversation.

This is a story that I told nobody until just a few years ago, because the shame of my shattered childhood haunted me through the rest of my life. Some of the details of my life story you will find shocking. You will think these are the details of a movie script or novel about cruelty. I can assure you that these are the true things that happened to me.

My Early Life

I was born in 1928 in the Korean city of Taegu. My family was poor and nine of us lived in a single, small house: my parents, my grandmother, my five brothers, and myself. I only had one year of formal education and spent most of my childhood caring for my younger brothers and doing household chores so my father and mother could work outside our home to support the family.

At the age of 13, I also began working in a factory and tried to return to school, but the heavy burden of work prevented me from focusing on my studies. To tell the truth, I was not a highly motivated student, although I did enjoy music lessons and was told I had a pretty singing voice.

During World War II, when I was 15, I was drafted to the training group for the Voluntary Corps in Ch’ilsong Elementary School. Boys and girls lined up separately for training, and we did exercises and marched in neat lines. We also had to march home at the end of each day. Our lives were highly regimented.

In the autumn of 1944, when I was 16 years old, my friend, Kim Punsun, and I were collecting shellfish at the riverside when we noticed an elderly man and a Japanese man looking down at us form the hillside. The older man pointed at us with his finger, and the Japanese man started to walk towards us. The older man disappeared, and the Japanese beckoned to us to follow him. I was scared and ran away, not caring about what happened to my friend. A few days later, Punsun knocked on my window early in the morning, and whispered to me to follow her quietly. I tip-toed out of the house after her. I lift without telling my mother. I was wearing a dark skirt, a long cotton blouse buttoned up at the front and slippers on my feet. I followed my friend until we met the same man who had tried to approach us on the riverbank. He looked as if he was in his late thirties and he wore a sort of People’s Army uniform with a combat cap. Altogether, there were five girls with him, including myself.

We went to the station and took a train to Kyongju. It was the first time I had been on a train. In Kyongju we were put up in a guest-house. We stayed in the guest-house for two days, during which time two more girls joined us. Now there were seven of us. We boarded a train and passed through Taegu where I could just see my home through the broken window. I suddenly missed my mother. I began to weep, saying I wanted to go home. I pushed the bundle of clothes away and continued to cry, asking the man to let me get off. He refused. Exhausted, I finally fell asleep as the train just kept on going. We must have traveled for several days.

Beating and Torture

We got off the train at Anju, in P’yongan province, and were led to what looked like an ordinary residential house. An elderly woman was keeping the house on her own. Food was short, and we were given boiled potatoes and corn. We felt very hungry and sometimes during our stay there we would pinch apples from the tree. The Japanese man who had led us from Taegu punished all of us if any single girl did something wrong. We had to stand on small round clubs, holding large bottles filled with water in our hands. Or he would beat our palms and the soles of our feet with sticks. He would ask one of us to bring him water to drink, and if the girl was slightly slow in doing what was asked, he would beat all of us. Any excuse prompted a beating. We became so scared that we tried not to upset him in any way.

In the winter, we froze, feeling ice form all over our bodies. If we complained of the cold, he would beat us. We shivered and tried to keep our frozen hands warm, doing everything behind his back. The two girls who had joined us in Kyongju were taken away, leaving the five of us who had set off together at the beginning of our journey. We remained in Anju for about a month and then boarded a train once more to travel to Dalian. We stayed overnight in a guest-house in Dalian. The following morning we were given soup and steamed bread. We boarded a ship and were told that a convoy of eleven boats would be sailing together. They were big ships. We were taken into the last one. It was already crowded with Japanese sailors. We were the only women.

New Year’s Day 1945 was spent on board. The ships stopped in Shanghai, and some of the sailors landed for a short break on shore. We were not allowed to disembark. I was summoned on deck and sang for the men. Afterwards, an officer gave me two rice cakes. I shared them with the other girls. The ships stated to sail again but often halted because of bombing. One day our ship received a direct hit. The other ships were destroyed, but only the front of our ship was damaged. Men shouted and screamed outside our cabin. The ship was tossed about, and I suffered with severe seasickness. My head was splitting with pain, and my stomach seemed to turn upside down. I remember crawling towards the bathroom, throwing up as I went along, when I was grabbed by a man and dragged into a cabin. I tried to shake him off, biting his arm. I did my best to get away. But he slapped me and threw me into the cabin with such force that I couldn’t fight him off. In this way I was raped. It was my first sexual experience. I was so frightened that what actually happened didn’t sink in at the time. I vaguely thought that this man had forced me into the room just to do this.

People kept shouting that we would all die since the ship had been torn to pieces. We were told to put life-jackets on and to stay calm. We thought we were going to drown. Dying seemed better than going on like this. But the ship somehow managed to keep going. Later I found out that I was not the only one who had been raped. Punsun and the others had also suffered that same fate. From then on, we were often raped on the ship. I wept constantly, until my eyes became swollen. I was frightened about everything. I think that I was too young to hold a grudge against my aggressors, though looking back I feel angry and full of the desire for revenge. At that time I was so scared I didn’t even dare look any man squarely in the face. One day I opened the window of our cabin and tried to jump into the water. It would have been better to end my life then and there, I thought. But the water, blue-green and white with waves, scared me so much that I lost the courage to throw myself out.

Eventually we arrived in Taiwan. When we disembarked I couldn’t walk properly as my abdomen hurt so much. My glands had swollen up in my groin, and blood had coagulated around my vagina. I could walk only with great difficulty, since I was so swollen that I couldn’t keep my two legs straight.

The man who had accompanied us from Taegu turned out to be the proprietor of the comfort station we were taken to. We called him Oyaji. I was the youngest amongst us. Punsun was a year older than me and the others were 18, 19 and 20. The proprietor told me to go into a certain room, but I refused. He dragged me by my hair to another room. There I was tortured with electric shocks. He was very cruel. He pulled out the telephone cord and tied my wrists and ankles with it. Then, shouting ‘konoyaro!’ he twirled the telephone receiver. Lights flashed before my eyes, and my body shook all over. I couldn’t stand it and begged him to stop. I said I would do anything he asked. But he turned the receiver once more. I blacked out. When I came round my body was wet; I think that he had probably poured water on me.

Life in the Comfort Station

The comfort station was a two-storey Japanese-style building with 20 rooms. There were already many women there when we arrived. About ten, all of whom looked much older than us, wore kimonos. There was a Japanese woman, the proprietor’s wife. We changed into dresses given to us by the other women. The proprietor told us to call them ‘nesang’, ‘big sister’ and to do whatever they told us to. We began to take turns to wash their clothes and cook for them. The food was again not enough. We ate gruel made with millet or rice. I was terrified of being beaten; I was always scared. I was never beaten by soldiers, but I was frequently beaten by the proprietor. I was so frightened that I couldn't harbor any thoughts of running away. After having crossed an ocean and not knowing where I was, how could I think of escape?

The rooms were very small. Each was big enough for two people to lie down in. At the entrance of each hung a blanket in place of a door. The walls and floor were laid with wooden boards, and there was nothing else. We were each given a military blanket and had to sleep on the bare planks. One day, a man came in and asked my name. I was still frightened and just sat in a corner shaking my head without answering. So he said he would give me a name, and began to call me Tosiko. After that day I was always called Tosiko in the station.

We mainly had to serve a commando unit. They were not in the slightest way sympathetic towards us. They wore uniforms, but I had no idea whether they were from the army, navy or air force. I served four or five men a day. They finished their business quickly and left. Hardly any stayed overnight. I had to use old clothes, washed thoroughly, during my period. Even then I had to serve men. I was never paid for these services.

There were frequent air raids, and on some days we had to be evacuated several times. Whenever there was a raid, we were forced to hide ourselves in mountain undergrowth or in a cave. If the bombing ceased, the men would set up make-shift tents anywhere, on dry fields or in paddies, and they would make us serve them. Even if the tents were blown down by the wind, the men didn’t pay any attention but finished what they were doing to us. Those men were worse than dogs or pigs. They never wore condoms. I don’t remember ever having a medical examination.

One day, while we were in an underground shelter, the comfort station collapsed in a bombing attack. Our shelter was buried under the rubble. We dug through the soil, trying to get out. After a while we saw light through a small hole. I was incredibly relieved to be able to look out and shouted ‘At last I can see outside!’ Then I smelt smoke, and blood gushed out of my nose and mouth. I lost consciousness. The proprietor’s wife and mistress both died. As the house had collapsed, we were moved into a bomb shelter at the foot of a hill, and there we again had to serve the men. After a while, the proprietor got hold of some material and built a rough and ready house. It didn’t take him long. We continued to serve the men. In the end I was infected with venereal disease and the proprietor gave me the injection of the serum known as No. 606, which was used before penicillin became widely available. The fluid had a reddish tint. The disease stayed with me for a long time because I had to continue to serve men before I was clear. So I had to have constant injections. There was no hospital or clinic in the vicinity. Medical care – such as it was – was haphazard.

Apart from going to the bomb shelters we weren’t allowed out at all. We were warned that if we tried to venture beyond the confines of the station we would be killed, and I was sufficiently scared not to try anything. The men we served in the unit were all young; they seemed to be 19 or 20 years old, not much older than we girls were.

One evening, a soldier came to me and said he would be in combat later that same evening and that this battle would mark the end of his early life. I asked him what his commando unit was. He explained that one or two men would fly an airplane to attack an enemy ship or base. They would be suicide pilots. He gave me his photo and the toiletries he had been using. He had come to me twice before and said he had got venereal disease from me. He said he would take the disease to his grave as my present to him. Then he taught me a song:

I take off with courage, leaving Sinzhu behind,

Over the golden and silver clouds.

There is no one to see me off:

Only Tosiko grieves for me.

Until then I had known we were somewhere in Taiwan, but because we were kept in such close confinement and isolation, I had no idea of exactly where. From his song I learned we were in Sinzhu.

When we were evacuated to avoid the bombing we stole sugar cane. We were that hungry. But if we were caught we were beaten. We were not allowed to speak in Korean. Again, if we were caught doing so, we were beaten.

The War Ends

One day, one of the older girls who normally hardly spoke a word to us announced that she, too, was Korean. She told me, in Korean, that the war was over. We hugged each other and wept with joy. She held my hand tightly and told me I must return to Korea. We could hear people shouting and running about. This confirmed to us that the war was really over. By the time we had calmed down, the proprietor and the other women who had been at the station before us were nowhere to be found. We walked to a refugee camp by the pier. It looked like a warehouse. We were given balls of boiled rice which had dead insects mixed in. We waited for a ship. I was scared even then that someone might drag me away, so I sat, shaking with fear, in a corner wrapped in a blanket. I kept crying so much that my small eyes got even smaller.

We finally got a ship. When it arrived in Pusan, the barley was green. As we disembarked, someone sprayed us with DDT and gave us each 300 won. There were four of us: Punsun, two other girls, and myself. We said farewell and went our separate ways. I got a train to Taegu. I kept weeping and tried to hide myself from other passengers in fear that someone might take me away again. I found my house, just as run down and poor as before. My mother asked if I was a ghost or a real person and fainted.

After my return, I couldn't dare think about getting married. How could I dream of marriage? Until recently I had suffered from venereal disease. My parents and brothers did not know what I had been through; I could not tell them. My father was upset merely because his only daughter wouldn't get married. Both my parents resented the fact that they weren't able to see me hitched before they died. I worked in a drinking house which also sold fishballs, and I ran a small shop on the beach in Ulsan. For some time I ran a small market stall selling string. Then I worked as a saleswoman for an insurance company. I gave up when I began to get too old.

Return My Youth to Me!

In 1992, encouraged by the existence of the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, I told my story. It poured out from me and I felt so relieved, but I was also faced with the question, How many more years can I live?

I am grateful that the Korean Council is trying to help us. These days I hum a song, Katusa, putting my own words to the tune: ‘I am so miserable; return my youth to me; apologize …. You dragged us off against our own will. You trod on us. Apologize… This lament, can you heat it, my mother and father? My own people will avenge my sorrows.’

I visited my parents’ graves the other day. I said to them: ‘Mother, I know you won’t come back to life however much I may wish for it. My own people will avenge me. Please close your eyes and go to paradise.’

Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee, thank you again for this opportunity to appear before you and tell my story. I am happy to answer any questions you might have.