Inadequate Innocence of Korean Comfort Girls-Women:
Obliterated Dignity and Shamed Self
Published online: 5 June 2017
Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017
Abstract The experiences of Korean comfort girls-women before and during World War II are a
paradigmatic example of how military sexual violence has the power to obliterate women’s
dignity and shame them into nonexistence. I propose that their horrific experience of sexual
slavery under the Japanese military caused intense and lasting shame that resulted in the Korean
comfort girls-women’s sense of self being entrenched in shame. Moreover, I argue that the
innocence of Korean comfort girls-women was and continues to be inadequately recognized.
The Japanese government refuses to admit its legal accountability and has not provided just
reparations to Korean comfort girls-women for its treacherous and systematic sexual enslavement
of Korean and other comfort girls-women. The Korean government and the people of Korea have
been too slow to accept the innocence of these women, to embrace their pain, sorrow, and
suffering, and to advocate for justice for them. This conversion of their innocence into inadequacy
or shame, actively by the Japanese government and passively by the Korean government and its
people, compounded these women’s long, miserable suffering for half a century until the silence
was broken in 1991 by a brave woman, Kim Haksun, with the support of Korean activists.
Keywords Korean comfort girls-women
Military sexual violence
Korean comfort girls-women: The personal story of Kim Haksun
I reproduce here the testimony of a Korean comfort girl-woman,KimHaksun,whoin1991
became the first woman to witness to and bring suit against the Japanese government for its
sexual enslavement of girls/women prior to and during World War II.
I initially edited Kim
Pastoral Psychol (2018) 67:175–194
Pae Ponggi’s life was made into the movie Okinawa no Harumoni by director Yamatani Tetsuo in 1979,andshe
is therefore considered the first of the Korean comfort girls-women who spoke out and broke the silence about
these women’s experiences (Howard 1995, pp. 7–8).
* Angella Son
Drew University, Madison, NJ, USA