Bike for ‘Comfort Women’

October 5, 2015
Sharon Shin Grandview High  Junior

Sharon Shin
Grandview High

Two South Korean college students have figuratively and literally gone extra miles to raise awareness of the “comfort women” issue through their 3,300-mile-long cycling journey across the U.S. recently.  

“Comfort women,” many of who were Korean and Chinese, refer to those who were taken by the Japanese military and coerced into sexual slavery during World War II.

Upon coming across an animated film ‘Herstory,’ which portrays the life of a Korean “comfort woman” Seo-Woon Chung, a college student Sim Yong Seok, 22, and his close friend Baek Doek Yoel, 22, were inspired to create a Triple A-Project.

The project encompassed a cycling journey from Los Angeles to New York, and had been completed by September 7. Sim and Baek embarked on the journey on June 20 and have organized a signature collection campaign and Wednesday demonstrations in front of the Japanese Embassy along the route.

The three As—admit, apologize, and accompany—of the 3A-Project represent the main purpose of the adventure. Sim and Baek want the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration to admit Japan’s violation of human rights for institutionalizing military brothels and apologize to the “comfort women.”  Moreover, they hope to accompany and console the “comfort women” by bearing their afflicted minds and souls.

When asked of their reason behind choosing bicycles as their method of transportation, Sim and Baek answered that the force that puts a bicycle into motion comes not from fossil fuels but from the blood flowing through their hearts, which best exhibits their passion.

As of now, there are only 47 known surviving Korean “comfort women.” Although some previous Japanese prime ministers have apologized, Abe has yet to mollify the grief of the survivors and activists for “comfort women.”

During his speech for 70th anniversary of the WW II on August 14, Abe expressed deep remorse for Japan’s wrongdoings but did not give a direct apology, maintaining that the burden of past crimes should not be casted on future Japanese generations.

On the contrary, apologizing for Japan’s wartime aggression will rather free the future generations from the guilt, preventing their suffering from the same accusations. Therefore, it is pivotal that the Abe administration do not distort the history of WWII but give a sincere apology, for it will not only improve Japan-Korean relations and placate the survivors, but also redeem the reputation of Japan as a responsible country that makes rightful compensation for its victims.


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