On February 23, 2018, Eric Mar, Russ Lowe and Sung Sohn were invited to speak as guest lecturers for the “World War II Memories in the US and Japan” class at University of California, Santa Cruz. They delivered a lecture on issues related to military sexual slaves known as “comfort women.”
The class, co-taught by Professor Alice Yang and Professor Alan Christy, began 19 years ago and started with a small group of students. Since then it has grown and now has 250 students.
During the “comfort women” lecture, Eric discussed collective activism and his personal experiences working to install the San Francisco “comfort women” memorial, Russ addressed the uncertain sister-city status between Osaka and San Francisco as a result of the memorial installation, and Sung discussed the importance and power of joint educational efforts.
A group of students interviewed Eric, Russ and Sung to find out additional historical background about “comfort women” and sought further explanations for various issues relating to military sexual slaves. The students also asked Eric, Russ and Sung about their personal reasons for their involvement in the issue, and asked for advice on ways to get involved in activism.
Professor Alice Yang, Professor Alan Christy, and their students are encouraging reminders of why teaching sidelined-history is so important.
Kim Hak-sun was the first woman to come forward about the plight of the comfort woman. As the first to share her story, she helped to bring to the public’s attention the issue of Japanese sex slavery during the Pacific War when she went public with her story in August, 1991.
Ruff-O’Herne was born in 1923 in Bandoeng in the Dutch East Indies, a former Southeast Asian colony of the Dutch Empire. During the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies, O’Herne and thousands of Dutch women were forced into hard physical labor at a prisoner-of-war camp…