Useful Opinions for Your Consideration



When I was a student, I interviewed dozens of Koreans who were born and raised in the Korean Peninsula in the 1920fs and 1930fs including my grandparents about comfort women.

According to what they witnessed, most Korean women were sold by their parents to Korean comfort station owners. They never witnessed any Korean women coerced by the Japanese.

Korean Newspaper Reports from 1930s

Korean men, who had debts from alcohol, gambling and so on, sold their daughters to Korean comfort station owners who shouldered their debts. Each woman's contract length was determined depending on the amount of debt the owner took over. Korean women were not allowed to leave until their debts were paid off. Any coercion, violence or confinement was exercised by Korean comfort station owners. So the Korean women were the sex slaves of Korean comfort station owners. They were not the sex slaves of the Japanese military.

Professor Chunghee Sarah Soh of San Francisco State University says, "Korean society must repudiate victimization, admit its complicity and accept that the system was not criminal."

The Comfort Women: Sexual Violence and Postcolonial Memory in Korea and Japans

In wars, soldiers sometimes rape innocent women. To prevent this from happening, the Japanese military asked businessmen to recruit prostitutes and operate comfort stations (brothels). The Japanese military sent notices to comfort station operators ordering them not recruit women against thier will. Japanese businessmen followed the order and only recruited willing women in Japan. But Korean businessmen recruited both willing prostitutes and unwilling women in Korea. If Korean comfort station owners had followed the military's order, there wouldn't have been any comfort women issue.


Having taught university in Seoul for seven years, I can attest to the strong anti-Japanese sentiment here that discourages objective research on this topic. The term gsex slavesh distort and simplify the complex, historical realities, such as parents who sold their daughters to traffickers.

The Korea-China campaign against Japan also prevents discussion about their own countriesf problematic histories, such as ecomfort stationsf for Korean military in Vietnam (Did S.Korea operate comfort stations in the Vietnam War?- Aug.25,2015  the hankyoreh) or the extensive trafficking of North Korean women in China.

I recommend Sarah Sohfs gComfort Womenh (University of Chicago Press), which is considered the definitive work in the subject. Another is the recent book by Korean Professor Park Yu-Ha (gComfort Women of the Empireh), which has been censored in Korea and its author criminally indicted. Instead of repeating nationalist, one-sided propaganda, newspapers should investigate what actually happened, interview actual scholars, and foster vigorous, informed debate on this important topic.


I find it disturbing to bring this comfort women issue to the USA when the matter was settled between the women involved in Korea and the government of Japan. Korea demanded money in return to settle this issue that Japan reluctantly paid and agreements were signed to end this matter between the two countries. Why San Francisco is involved only shows the bias against the Japanese people, international agreements and creating conflict where it had been settled between countries. Why the city of San Francisco mayor is putting this issue front and center and allowing it to go on shows his bias toward Japanese people. This is not what a sister city does to each other, shame on the elitist San Francisco mayor and the city for allowing this to continue.

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