Former comfort women visit L.A. to support Glendale statue

July 23, 2014
Lee Ok-seon, left, and Kang Il-chul in front of the federal court in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday. (Park Sang-hyuk/The Korea Times)

Lee Ok-seon, left, and Kang Il-chul in front of the federal court in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday. (Park Sang-hyuk/The Korea Times)

Two former comfort women from Korea visited downtown Los Angeles’ federal court on Tuesday to submit support statements defending a controversial Glendale statue erected last year.

Lee Ok-seon, 87, and Kang Il-chool, 86, recounted their experience of being forced to provide sex to Japanese soldiers during World War II. Glendale is currently fighting a lawsuit filed by older Japanese Americans who demand the statue be taken down.

The statue depicts a young Korean comfort woman in traditional dress next to an empty chair.

Lee and Kang said the reason for their visit to the U.S. was honor and the restoration of human rights. They live at the House of Sharing in Gwangju, South Korea, a home for ten former comfort women.

“We need to receive a submission of apology from Japan, which took immature children and did terrible things to them,” Lee said. “I hope the U.S. government and its citizens show attention to former comfort women and add to our strength.”

Lee said she was abducted and taken to Japanese soldiers when she was 15 years old, while Kang said she was taken at age 14.

“The Japanese government is waiting for us to die,” Lee said. “We’re going to provide testimonies around the world until we die, and that’s why we came here to America.”

The Korean American Forum of California said it would hold a fundraising event, attended by Lee and Kang, on Thursday at the Garden Suite Hotel in Koreatown.


  1. moguro fukuzo

    July 31, 2014 at 9:18 PM

    You can review the past testimonies of Lee Ok-seon and Kang Il-chul here.

    False Accuzations of Comfort Women

  2. konohazuku001

    August 2, 2014 at 10:09 PM

    Based on these following facts,there was no Korean comfort-woman unwillingly kidnapped by Japanese army or officials.
    1.No one knows the names of the villages or towns where the comfort-women were actually kidnapped.
    2.So far as the comfort-women kidnapping issue is concerned, there is no obvious record which had been written before 1990s.
    3.It is quite strange that so many as 200,000 victims had kept silence from 1945 to the 1990s.
    4.A large amount of money were paid to the Comfort-women in reward for their jobs. Back in those days,it was not a rare case that poor parents necessarily sold their daughters to get money.
    5.There have been no witnesses who can testify the kidnapping incidents. If there had been many comfort-women who were kidnapped, there must have been many witnesses. But nobody saw the incident.
    6.There was no real testimony by the kidnappers. It was already proved that Seiji Yoshida’s testimony was absolutely false statements. At that time in Korea, most of policemen and officials were Koreans, not Japanese.
    7.There was no protest opposing to the kidnapped comfort-women.If there had been kidnapped comfort-women as real events, riots must have been raised.
    8.In Korea, from time immemorial to now ,there always have been many prostituts. In the period of the World WarII,it is quite natural that there must have been prostitution markets there.
    9.Most of Korean comfort-women say “I was sold.” or “I was deceived.” A small number of women say “I was kidnaped.” The credibility of their testimonies are in question. The contentions are rather suspect evidences.
    10.Although The Japan-Korea Basic Relations Treaty was concluded in 1965, South Korea currently lodges various reasons in order to draw out as much money as possible from Japan.
    However,at the time of the conclusion of the treaty, they never argued about the comfort-women issue at all.