Korean ‘comfort woman’ who served Japanese Army in S’pore during WWII passed away at the age of 92
Kim was duped into sexual slavery by the Japanese during WWII when she was only 14 years old.
Kim Bok-Dong was one of the first South Korean ‘comfort woman’ to speak publicly about the injustice that ‘comfort women’ suffered from sexual slavery under Japanese rule.
She was an unyielding activist who demanded a formal apology from the Japanese government.
Most recently, she shared this in a viral interview with Asian Boss last October:
“What I want is… an apology from Japan for having dragged us away and asking us to suffer. I want a formal apology. They should say, ‘What we did was completely wrong, and we’ll correct our history textbooks. And say to us, ‘We sincerely apologise.’ If they wrote that kind of formal apology, then we can forgive them.”
Even then, she was already in the final stage of cancer.
Passed away at 92-year-old
Kim passed away on Jan. 28, 2019, at the age of 92 in Yonsei University’s Severance Hospital in Seoul.
Kim’s funeral was held last Friday, Feb. 1, with a traditional Korean farewell road ceremony near the Japan embassy.
Hundreds of mourners marched from the hospital to the front of Japan embassy, holding paper cutouts of yellow butterflies which symbolised the ‘comfort women’.
According to the Japan Times, the Japanese government expressed concern about the funeral “if it disturbs the peace of the embassy or violates its dignity”.
Tokyo also sought Seoul’s help in maintaining the peace of the Japan embassy.
“Fight until the end”
In a tribute to Kim, South Korean President Moon Jae-in acknowledged Kim’s contribution in bringing “light to the hidden history” and empowering other ‘comfort women’.
Moon also promised that the nation will not forget to set history right.
Yoon Mee-Hyang, a friend of Kim who leads a group that advocates for the women, shared with Reuters that Kim remained angry towards Japan even in her final moments.
“She suddenly opened her eyes yesterday and told a long story … I couldn’t decipher everything but one thing I could hear clearly was that we had to fight until the end.”
“Then she expressed strong anger toward Japan as she continued talking, before she regained her tranquillity.”
Kim’s experience as a ‘comfort woman’
If one wants to understand why Kim is so angry with the Japanese, one must understand what she had gone through first.
Kim had been a ‘comfort woman’ for eight years ever since she was duped into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.
Kim was only 14 years old back then.
The ‘comfort women’ were stationed at occupied territories before and during World War II.
During those eight years, one of the territories that she ‘worked’ in was Singapore.
The experience was so painful, both emotionally and physically, that she attempted suicide, but was eventually saved by the medics.
Kim decided to stay alive to tell what happened after surviving the attempted suicide.
Years later, Kim eventually reunited with her family in Korea.
However, after the Japanese lost in Singapore, they tried to cover up the existence of these comfort stations by turning the ‘comfort women’ into nurses at an army hospital.
It took Kim decades for her to muster enough courage at the age of 60 to talk about this part of history publicly, and she spoke about it till the very end.
Read Kim’s full story here:
Top photo collage from screenshots of Asian Boss and Arirang News