Korean Schools in Japan
This historiographical documentary on Korean schools in Japan from the mid-1940s to 2018 exposes state-sanctioned racial discrimination and injustice while delivering an awe-inspiring message of hope. Eclipse Rising, Education for Social Justice Foundation, and Nikkei Resisters are proud to bring this documentary to the United States for its first screening outside of Japan.
Special guests from Japan will be available for questions and comments after the screening.
Director: Chanyu Ko
Production: “Ai’s Hakkyo Production” Committee
Narration: Hana Kang, one of the main actors in the movie Spirits Homecoming, is featured and narrates along with Kiyohara Masatsugu
Please direct any inquiries on future screenings of Korean Schools in Japan to firstname.lastname@example.org
My Name is Kim Bokdong is a documentary that premiered in May at the Jeonju International Film Festival and opened in theaters on August 8 in South Korea.
Come see the movie and witness the power of the collective activism led by Bokdong Kim to bring justice to Japanese military sex slaves. Thanks to the Korean Council for hosting the documentary tour in several cities in the States in September. Outside of these showings, the documentary won't be available for viewing until much later.
Click here for the movie review in the Korea Herald.
About Bokdong Kim (1926-2019): Once a Japanese military sex slave, Bok-Dong Kim later became an advocate for peace and a human rights activist. At the age of fourteen, she was forcibly taken by the Japanese military and sent to various countries, including China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore, following their invasion route. Eight years after her mobilization as a Japanese military “comfort woman,” she returned home. In March 1992, she made a public testimony and began her activism.
After she testified at the first Asian Solidarity Conference for the Resolution of the Issue of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan in August 1992, she testified at the World Conference on Human Rights held by the United Nations in Vienna, Austria, the 2000 Women's International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan's Military Sexual Slavery, and other occasions.
Beginning in 2012, she carried out international campaigns at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and in the United States, England, Germany, Norway, and Japan, speaking of a world without war and victims of sexual violence due to armed conflicts.
She also endeavored to provide financial aid to Korean schools in Japan, which suffer discrimination. The schools for students of Korean descent living in Japan are often excluded from the tuition subsidy program.
Kim Bokdong lived at a home called “Peaceful Our House” (평화의 우리집), provided by the Korean Council, from 2010 until her passing in 2019. She passed away on January 28, 2019, and about two weeks later, on February 12, Gordon Mar, SF City Supervisor, issued a posthumous certificate of honor for her tireless work in advocating for peace and fighting for human rights. She held onto hope until the day she passed away: “Although sometimes I question whether or not our situation is hopeful, I know we need to hold onto hope. I do. Please follow me. Let’s gather our strength and not forget about hope. Let’s hold onto hope together.”
Coverage from Xinhua (8/15/2019)
ESJF Statement: “After ‘Lack of Freedom of Expression?’” Shut Down to Suppress Freedom of Expression
Education for Social Justice Foundation (ESJF) denounces the ironic and uncivil decision announced on August 3 to shut down the exhibit, “After ‘Lack of Freedom of Expression?’, 「表現の不自由展・その後」.” We urge the exhibit to reopen immediately.
Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura who demanded the shutdown argued that “the exhibition could give the wrong impression that Japan accepts a South Korean claim that comfort women [Japanese military sex slaves] were forcibly taken by the Japanese military...” One of the pieces on the display was "Peace Girl Statue," which symbolizes a victim of Japanese military sexual slavery. The organizers of the Aichi Triennale 2019, “Taming Y/Our Passion” 「情の時代」, decided to shut down the exhibit instead of running it until October 14. The exhibit space is now covered up by blank barricades depriving people of over 20 art pieces at the exhibit, “After ‘Lack of Freedom of Expression?’”
Shutting down an exhibit, especially without consulting the artists, is a grave suppression of freedom of expression and political violence. One of the pieces on the display was done by a minor back in December 2016.
In April 2017, 11th grader Yun-soo Jo experienced injustice when the city funding to the Chiba Korean Elementary and Middle School was cut because she and her friend presented art pieces advocating justice for Japanese military sex slaves, which the Chiba mayor found problematic. As a result, he cut funding to the school as an unfair punitive measure. At the 2019 Aichi Triennale, she is experiencing yet another injustice associated with freedom of expression, which is the essence of democracy.
In addition to protecting the freedom of expression of the people, it is the humble duty of democratic society to provide a just and safe environment for the young generation, but the organizers of the Aichi Triennale 2019 have done completely the opposite. Shutting down freedom of expression is wrong. Shutting down freedom of minors’ expression is even more wrong and shameful.
The Japanese Centre of PEN International, a writers’ organization in Japan, released the following statement on August 3: “Eliminating the space for communication between creator and viewer robs art of its meaning and quashes the spirit of freedom, which is the driving force of society.”
The Japan Art Association has protested against the shutdown of the exhibition by stating "Succumbing to pressure from the government and threatening is a serious infringement on freedom of expression."
As Aichi Governor Hideaki Omura said, “highly likely, this decision violates Article 21 of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression."
To learn more about Yun-soo Jo’s painting and Chiba Korean Elementary and Middle School standing up against suppression of freedom of expression, please click here.
You can send an email to the Aichi Prefectural Triennale Promotion Office urging to reopen the exhibition at email@example.com. If you’d like to see a copy the letter ESJF sent to the office, please click here.
International Joint Statement Applauding the Dissolution of the Contrived “Reconciliation and Healing Foundation”
We welcome the news that the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation in S. Korea has finally been dismantled. Established in 2016 as part of the flawed 2015 “comfort women” agreement between S. Korea and Japan, the Japanese government claimed the foundation was intended to help survivors of Japanese military sexual slavery, but it—and the rest of the agreement—was denounced by the victims because their input was never sought. The most offensive part of the original agreement was the declaration that it was “final and irreversible,” suggesting that reparations had been made unequivocally, when in fact the Japanese government has still not issued a formal apology for their past war crimes.
We are reminded that the disbandment of the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation teaches all of us an empowering lesson from history that no government can stand in the way of restoring the human rights of and justice for victims of Japanese military sex slaves. This redress movement is also a significant reminder to the perpetrators and the victims of sexual violence in the past and today that crimes associated with sexual violence will not be tolerated and that justice lives.
Though cabinet members in the Japanese government insist that the agreement stands, we understand that since the two main enactments—the establishment of the center and the donation of 1 billion JYP—have been annulled, the agreement is, in actuality, nullified.
Russ Lowe and Sung Sohn taught a group of eleven interns at the Pacific Atrocities Education on “comfort women” history and issues. Ten college students and one high school senior made insightful comments and asked thoughtful questions. One voiced that she believes social justice should be the core component of history.
This summer, interns from various ethnic backgrounds are researching multiple topics on WWII in the Pacific theatre, including the correlation between the Japanese economy and the Korean War, Vietnamese famine, and Chinese military presence in Burma. They’ll have a showcase of their culminating work on July 25.
ESJF in Seoul, Day 4 & 5: The War Memorial of Korea, the Museum on Korean Palaces, the DMZ, Noryangjin Seafood Market, Korean Shaved Ice (pot-bingsoo), Changdeok Girls’ Middle School, Nanta performance, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Bukchon, & Namsan
We were busy exploring the city, learning more about Korean history & culture, and, of course, tasting delicious foods. We made sure to have some live octopus at the Noryangjin seafood market, followed by deliciously cold and sweet Korean shaved ice, bingsoo! The two flavors of bingsoo we shared were the original red bean shaved ice with sweet rice cake and English tea shaved ice with hazelnut ice cream and fresh orange wedges. The SFUSD teachers also enjoyed visiting local museums, the War Memorial of Korea and the Museum on Korean Palaces, while one teacher also visited the DMZ.
The next day, we toured Changdeok Girls’ Middle School, known as Future School: a public pilot school supported by the Seoul Metropolitan government, designed to meet the challenges of the future. Changdeok uses cutting-edge technology, has small class sizes of fewer than 15 students, applies innovative pedagogy, and offers state-of-the-art facilities. While the school uses the same textbooks and offers the same courses for the same length of the time as other public schools, it looks and feels different. Progressive thinking is fostered in an engaging and nurturing environment. In fact, the principal, who kindly gave us the school tour, told us that no student falls asleep in class.
After the school tour, some of us went to see a theatrical performance with no dialogue and a lot of action. We all went to Gyeongbokgung Palace and nearby Bukchon, a historic Korean village with traditional architecture. We opted to have dessert before our final dinner together as a group in Seoul, this time Mango Mango shaved ice, another amazingly delicious flavor! After dinner together, some of us went to see the night view of Seoul at Namsan.
The five days in Seoul were informative, moving, eventful, and memorable. ESJF deeply appreciates the Korean Council for organizing the international symposium with great attention to detail. Our trip gave us many ideas to incorporate in the classroom and renewed our energy to continue promoting education in social justice. ESJF also thanks the Korean Council, Erin Hanlon, Christina Tang, and Connie Byun for sharing their photos, included in this newsletter.
ESJF at Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict International Symposium, Day 3: War and Women’s Human Rights Museum & Wednesday Rally
After visiting the War and Women’s Human Rights Museum, all symposium participants joined the 1392th Wednesday rally held across from the Japanese embassy in Seoul. At the rally, Vasfije Kransniqi-Goodman, a survivor of wartime sexual violence in Kosovo, was the second recipient of the Kim Bok-dong Peace Prize. Several teachers, survivors, and activists from outside of Korea spoke at the rally. ESJF’s message to the rally attendees follows:
We, the teachers from the San Francisco Bay Area, are honored to be here. To the victims who are here and the ones who are no longer with us, we want to say that we see you, we hear you, and we will continue fighting with you. This issue of wartime sexual abuse will not go away until the men and women in power show in their actions that they fully realize its importance and join the international movement to stop sexual violence.
Grandma Won-ok Gil and Yong-soo Lee, former Japanese military sex slaves, attended the rally, energizing everyone. The demonstration ended with the wonderful news that the Korean Council will soon open the Kim Bok-dong Center in Uganda. The center will include the Kim Bok-dong memorial room, museum displays on Japanese military sexual slavery and the history of the Ugandan Civil War (1981-1986), and a school.
The theme of the second day of the 2019 Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict Week International Symposium was “Endless Pain: The Prevention of the Crimes of Sexual Violence in Armed Conflicts.” The talks that were given continued to focus on the Japanese Military Sexual Slavery Issue and also looked at the sexual slavery in more recent conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kosovo, and with the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. The day began with the introduction of another Japanese military sexual slavery survivor, halmoni Won-ok Gil, who sang a song for the assembled participants and said a few words of greeting.
The keynote speaker of the day was Rashida Manjoo, Professor of Public Law at the University of Cape Town and the former UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women. The title of Professor Manjoo’s speech was “United Nations Developments regarding Sexual Violence in Conflict and the Importance of Reparations that are Transformative.” Prof. Manjoo laid out in her talk the prevalence of sexual violence in 20th and 21st century conflicts and then explained what the United Nations is doing about this issue. In April of 2019 the United Nations adopted Resolution 2467, “Women and peace and and security: Sexual violence in conflict.” However, due to objections from member states such as Russia, China, and the United states, draft language which addressed “accountability and a survivor-centered approach” to causes and effects of sexual violence as well as “sexual and reproductive health and rights” were removed from the resolution. Nine times since 2000 the United Nations has adopted resolutions addressing the issue of sexual violence against women during armed conflict and its aftermath. As a result sexual violence in all of its forms is now recognized internationally as a tool of war and a bureaucracy has been set up to track the use of sexual violence in armed conflict, provide a forum to prosecute the perpetrators, and work on the need to offer reparations to the victims. She concluded by stating that while there is now widespread international recognition of sexual violence in conflict as an issue, and that structures exist to address this issue, there is still a great deal of work which needs to bd done before this issue even beignets be addressed properly.
The next speaker of the day was Bonane Akim Bugeso, the coordinator of REMED, an organization created to provide support to the women and girls affected by sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Participants were presented with the statistics related to sexual violence in the DRC, and then told about the organization REMED and it’s program “Mama Ushirika” program [ushirika means your problem is my problem in Congolese] which provides support groups for women and girls affected by sexual violence and provides them with school fees for their children, job training, and soon a literacy program.
Bonane Akim Bugeso was followed by Jolly Grace Okot Adruville who spoke briefly of her experience being a forced child soldier for the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda and being raped by commanders of the army before moving on to her work with various NGOs to help survivors of Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) sexual violence. She founded a organization called HEALS that provided play therapy for the children who were "night commuters” [night commuters were children sleeping en masse in public bus stops to avoid being kidnapped by the LRA] before going on to start WEND, a socially-responsible fashion company that employs victims of violence in northern Uganda at the hands of the LRA. The women are given training in sewing and tailoring, as well as instruction in personal health and finance, before being employed by WEND in sewing bags and toys for WEND’s product line. They are employed at a living wage and so are able to care for their families and send their children to school.
The next speaker was Ms. Sylvia Acan, who in 2018 was the first recipient of the Kim Bok-don Peace Prize, and a survivor of sexual violence at the hands of the LRA, who eagerly told the audience about her organization - Golden Women Vision in Uganda, which uses group meetings to help Northern Uganda’s sexual violence survivors to talk through their experiences, learn skills that will allow them to set up their own small businesses, and provide micro loans to finance those same small businesses. All of the outside funds that Golden Women Vision in Uganda receives comes from the Butterfly Fund, a fund established by the first two survivors of Japanese Military Sexual Slavery to come forward, Kim Bok-dong and Gil Won-ok. The Butterfly Fund distributes funds to help other wartime rape survivors across the globe. Ms. Acan mentioned that while the Ugandan government has pledged to help survivors to rebuild their lives little has been done in the 24 years since that pledge was made.
Ms. Acan was followed by Rose Aber, the third survivor of Lord’s Resistance Army sexual violence to address the symposium. Ms. Aber told the group about the micro loan program, Can Rewede Pee, for which she is treasurer. The group, with the help of outside finance from the Butterfly Fund, has been able to help the members set up their own small businesses which has allowed all of them to keep their children in school and also set up a hospitalization fund to pay the hospital expenses should any of their members be hospitalized. The most pressing need for group members turned out to be access to housing. In Uganda social mores make it difficult to rent housing if you have children but not a husband - all of the women have two or more children born to them from the sexual violence they experienced at the hands of the LRA. The Can Rewede Pee fund hopes to amass enough funds to help members build their own homes so that they are no longer at the mercy of landlords.
After Ms. Acan’s talk the focus shifted away from the work being done in Africa and turned to Kosovo, where the 2019 recipient of the Kim Bok-don Peace Prize, Vasfijie Krasniqi-Goodman told her story about being raped at the hands of a soldier and a civilian during the Kosovo war, and the ordeal she has endured being the only victim of sexual violence from that conflict who has been willing to speak publicly though scores of women have come forward privately and told her their own experiences, and it is estimated that the victims number at twenty thousand. Ms. Krasniqi-Goodman is working for justice both for herself and for other victims through the international court system, which has currently not brought her perpetrators to justice, as being an activist for the Kosova Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims (KRCT), which advocates for wartime victims of sexual violence across the globe.
Lastly the symposium returned to Korea to look at what had been done both in terms of government recognition, reparations for victims, and education of the rising generation. Telling the audience that “the war is over but the war is still not over for the victims,” Yoon Meehyang recounted all the activism that had gone on in Korea since the first victims spoke out, Ms. Yoon mentioned both the progress that had been made as well as the setbacks. Regardless of the setbacks, and the fact that sexual violence still plagues women caught up in military conflicts across the globe, Ms. Yoon emphasized that there was still hope that more progress would be made and victims would get their reparations.