Documentary film on late comfort woman and activist opens
Aug. 16, 2019
Global Korean Post
by Kang Gahui and Kim Hwaya
A feature-length documentary on the late Kim Bok-dong (1926-2019), a human rights and peace activist who was forced to provide sex to the imperial Japanese army, was released on Aug. 8.
Titled “My Name Is Kim Bok-dong,” the film covers the last 27 years of her life from when she first spoke of her sexual enslavement by Japan in 2012 to her death on Jan. 28 this year at age 92.
Starting with her first public testimony given in 1992 at the inaugural Asian Solidarity Conference, Kim described the brutality she suffered at the hands of Japanese soldiers in publicizing the plight of the so-called comfort women. She inspired fellow victims from Taiwan and the Philippines to also share their experiences.
Kim also did not limit her activism to helping former comfort women. In 2011, she suggested raising money for those displaced by the massive earthquake and ensuing tsunami in Japan, and was the first donor in her campaign. She also established the Butterfly Fund to help women suffering from sexual violence in conflict areas and the Kim Bok-dong Peace Prize to honor those helping such victims.
She received in 2012 the Brave Woman Award from the Glendale City Council of Southern California and was named in 2015 as one of “100 Heroes Fighting for Liberty of the Press” by Reporters Without Borders. In the same year, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea awarded her a national medal.
“The comfort women issue is not a political one but an issue of women’s rights, settlement of Japan’s colonial rule and peace. Kim Bok-dong was always on the front lines of this issue,” said Yoon Mi-hyang, head of the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance, at a news conference on July 24 at the movie theater Megabox Dongdaemun in Seoul. Yoon frequently worked with Kim.
In January, President Moon Jae-in, high-profile government officials and tens of thousands of people attended Kim’s funeral. Foreign media outlets such as The New York Times, NBC, the BBC and Reuters covered her life and achievements at the time.
The former comfort woman’s final wish was for Japan to issue a sincere apology, saying, “I’m ready to forgive.”
The number of surviving comfort women according to a government document is 21. Activists representing such victims continue to hold rallies every Wednesday in front of the former site of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.