Site of Korea’s painful history reborn into a memorial site for “Comfort Women”


A site in Seoul steeped in the pain of Japan’s
annexation of Korea 106 years ago… has been transformed into a memorial site. A place to remind us of historical facts we
must never forget, the ‘Place of Remembrance’ was unveiled today. Lee Ji-won takes us there. “Exactly 106 years ago, the Korea-Japan Treaty
of 1910 was signed at this very site,… proclaiming the start of Japan’s colonial rule of Korea. But on August 29th 2016,… this historical
location — home to so much pain and suffering — is reborn as a memorial site.” Since last year, Seoul city and the memorial’s
organizing committee have been working to turn the site where Japan’s colonial-era resident-general
used to live… into a memorial commemorating Japan’s sexual slavery victims — the so-called
“Comfort women.” And on Monday, at the foot of Mount Namsan
in central Seoul, the reborn ‘Place of Remembrance’ was unveiled. “The victims of Japan’s sexual slavery have
repeatedly said they fear their painful history will be forgotten. By creating this site, we hope the younger
generation will learn and remember the correct historical record,… and reflect that when
building Korea’s future.” One commemorative piece added to the site
is a marble wall engraved with the names and the testimony of the “comfort women.” Another work is a huge stone reading, “History
not remembered is repeated.” Attending the ceremony were Kim Bok-dong and
Gil Won-ok , two of only 40 victims of Japan’s sexual slavery who are still living. They thanked everyone for coming,… but also
expressed their strong views on the Japanese government’s pledge of 1 billion yen, or about
10 million U.S. dollars, to help the victims. “We won’t take Japan’s money. Shinzo Abe must first make a formal, sincere
apology in front of the press, restore our honor and THEN compensate for their actions.” She also urged the government to seek that
apology,… but it remains to be seen whether the victims’ voices will be heard. Lee Ji-won, Arirang News.

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