Nearly 70 years have passed since some 200,000 so-called “comfort women” were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese army during the Second World War. The few living survivors continue to wait for a state apology and compensation.
News anchor Jennifer Moon (BA 2005 Innis) was inspired to highlight the issue after delivering news reports on the deaths of some South Korean survivors in late 2012. To show how widespread the atrocities were, she decided to produce a Pan-Asian version of their story. Arirang TV, a global network based in Seoul, first aired Moon’s documentary “Comfort Women” One Last Cry on March 1, 2013 – the date commemorates the 1919 Korean independence movement. The film begins in South Korea and moves on to the Philippines, China and Australia.
Moon’s greatest challenge was convincing the survivors to talk about their most painful memories. Many of them were adolescent girls – some as young as 12 – when they were taken by Japanese soldiers. For some, the ongoing lack of recompense makes it feel as if efforts to recount their stories are in vain. “I’ve told my story more than 100 times,” says Ha Sang-suk, whom Moon interviewed in Wuhan, China. “What has changed? Nothing.”
Moon won Best Scriptwriter and the film won an award of excellence at the 2013 International Film Festival for Peace, Inspiration and Equality. Although there are other productions on the topic of “comfort women,” Moon still hopes hers will contribute to the long battle for justice. “I felt like it was my duty to march on and document their stories well,” says Moon. “This way, their wish for a sincere apology from the Japanese government may come true.”