YouTube video courtesy of Seoul City Government & Seoul National University’s Human Rights Center/The SeoulShinmun
SEOUL, Jul. 6 (Korea Bizwire) — For the first time in the emotionally fraught history of Korean comfort women, video footage confirming their harrowing experience has been discovered, adding to the extensive amount of evidence proving their existence. Until now, historians and experts had to make do with interviews, documents and photos to piece together the heart-wrenching narrative.
The black and white video footage, a mere 18 seconds long, shows seven comfort women presumably in front of a comfort station. It is believed to have been filmed by a photographer from the U.S. military, which occupied Songshan, China in September, 1944.
News of the video footage spread like wildfire through the Korean digital landscape, plunging netizens into fits of outrage and deep sadness. Comments sections on popular news sites overflowed with grief, anger and self-reflection.
One person wrote, “Seeing those young children with their heads bowed in fear makes me so angry that I can’t sit still,” while another added, “Those girls are at an age when their life is beginning to bloom. I can’t imagine the pain, the agony, the humiliation and the despair they would have felt. I hope that the comfort women who have already passed away are at peace and the women who are still alive find happiness for the remainder of their days.”
Inevitably, some of the comments spilled over into the political sphere. Invective was particularly strong for the Japanese government and for the lack of apology for its role in operating comfort stations for Japanese military servicemen.
One person criticized the Japanese government by writing, “Now we have actual filmed documentation that these stations existed and that innocent girls were captured and used as sex slaves. And to think that the Japanese government denied this! Such outrageous behavior!”
Another netizen left a comment expressing the belief that the discovered video footage will persuade the Japanese government to change its stance on refusing to admit wrongdoings. “They need to show this video to everyone in Japan. They need to see this so that they can know the truth and apologize to the women who have suffered.”
It remains to be seen whether the video footage, a boon to Korean history and to the tragic history of the comfort women, ends up further worsening relations between Korea and its eastern neighbor.