After talking to one of my friends who lives in Seoul, I was shocked to learn about the House of Sharing for comfort women. This is where the women who were used as ‘comfort’ by the Japan army in the 2nd World War now live. I hadn’t heard of the ‘comfort women’ within my school history lessons or on my travels around the world. I wanted to know more and how I could show my support to these women, which is when I heard about the Wednesday demonstrations outside the Japanese Embassy.
When and Where does it happen?
Every Wednesday since 8th January 1992, when Japan’s Prime Minister visited the Republic of Korea, the surviving victims and others supporting their cause take to the street near the Japanese embassy. They are asking for a proper apology from the Japanese government who deny that comfort women were forcefully taken during this time. In December 2011, a golden statue of a women was erected next to the Japanese embassy in honour of the ‘comfort women’ on the 1000th demonstration.
Previously, the Japanese government have offered an apology but the women do not feel it is enough. They want their treatment to be part of Japanese history, and there is no mention of them in Japanese textbooks. In addition to this the new Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, appears to question the country’s earlier apology and one nationalist mayor speaks of the importance of these women (Source: BBC).
The Japanese Government have requested multiple times for the statue to be removed and this was agreed by the South Korean government in December 2015. She was still there on my visit in December 2016, one year after they agreed to remove it.
What happened to these comfort women?
To avoid the Japanese soldiers from raping local women they were provided with ‘comfort women’ who provided sexual services to the Japanese Imperial Army during World War 2. Whilst at first these were Japanese prostitutes who volunteered for the job, as their empire grew, so did the need for women and they did not have enough volunteers.
Women were forcibly seized against their will, either lured by advertisements offering them other work or taken from fathers who had insulted Japanese army members. Some came from neighbouring countries or even as far away as the Netherlands to serve in comfort stations.
Approximately 75% of women died and survivors were left infertile from the trauma or sexually transmitted diseases. Beating and torture were common and females who refused to provide services were executed. The women would have to service 25 – 35 men a day.
How can I show support to these women?
The demonstration takes place outside the Japanese embassy every Wednesday at midday. It is on a side street off the main road next to the Golden Statue. You can show your support here for these ladies.
In addition to this you can visit the House of Sharing which is located in Gwangju on the outskirts of Seoul.
Address: #65 Wongdang-ri, Twoichon-myon, Gwangju-si, Gyunggi-do, South Korea, 464-840
Here nine of the surviving ‘comfort women’ live. Next door is a museum which documents their story. The House of Sharing is looking for volunteers to carry out tours within the museum and help look after these women. Contact them on:
You can learn more about the House of Sharing via their website and Facebook page or email them on firstname.lastname@example.org
Did you know about the use of comfort women? Have you been to show your support or been to the house of sharing? Please comment below. Don’t forget to subscribe (It’s free!) to my blog for more posts like this and interesting travel tips.
How tragic. So many innocent people suffer in any war but this is especially horrifying and no doubt still happening somewhere in the world even today.
Thanks for your comment Pat. Yes it is really tragic. War is so horrifying especially when there is the additional of things like the use of Comfort Women
What a sad part of history, I had never heard of this before! It’s funny how everyone in Europe has heard of the atrocities committed during WWII in this continent, but we don’t know much about what happened in other places such as Korea and Japan.
So sad that they still have to demonstrate for justice after so many years!
It is so so true that we learn about Europe but not the rest of the world
Wow. My country, The Philippines, had also been colonised by Japan. We, too, have comfort women in that dark period of our history. I didn’t know Korea had them as well. such an eye opener! 🙂
Yes I heard that the Philippines also had this happen to them. I am currently in the Philippines at the moment 🙂
I have never heard about this horrible thing in our history! This is so sad! It is obviously still very sensitive subject, and I’m glad there are people who want this to be corrected. Even though this is sad, it is important for us as bloggers to bring things up and make awareness. Thank you for sharing this.
Its a tough subject to write about but I felt it was important to share. Thanks for your comment 🙂
Thank you for sharing your knowledge on this topic! I had never heard about this, which is sad. I would love to go and show my support if I ever find myself in Seoul. I can’t even imagine the horrors that these women had to go through, and the least we can do is make sure their story is told.
Thanks for your comment Suz, It’s such a sad thing that happened in history but I feel it was important to write about so that others, like you can show their support.
Whoa! That is disturbing to see that even 70 years after the war the women have got no justice. Seems like wars in SE Asian regions have always given rise/increased already existing the need for ‘comfort’. They seem to be an aspect of an aftermath of wars that never are talked about.
Thank you for bringing this to our attention!
I know, 70 years is a long time to still not be acknowledged and apologised to. So so sad
I have never heard about this. I’m so stunned.This is so sad and what incredibly brave woman to be sharing their story and fighting for their voices to be heard. Thank you for sharing and bringing this issue to my attention.
You are welcome Claire. I feel very strongly about the issue and wanted to show my support. In hope of sharing this post, others will go and show their support too.
Horrific, there is so much in this world that we’r unaware of and so much we can do if we all get together.
We are so lucky to live the life’s we have, everyday is precious.
This is so true. Things are happening all over the world but only what the media wants us to hear and see is easily accessible. There is so much to learn about the world and travel really opens your eyes and educates you.