The Statue of a Girl at Wangsimni Station - Seoul, Seongdong-gu, South Korea
Near the front of Wangsimni Station sits a little girl with a serious face, and a story of grave injustice. This statue can be seen all over the world in Australia, California, Canada, and several other places in Korea.
So what’s the truth behind the bronze girl who sits upon a wooden chair? It all started during warring times between the years of 1932 and 1937. Nearly 300,000 citizens in Chinese cities were killed, raped, and their communities looted by Japanese soldiers.
In effort to “control” this issue, a “prostitution service” was created to minimize the rape reports that increased near army bases. Korean women were forcibly recruited to fill brothels, and had been called “Comfort Women”.
Victims of these war crimes re-tell gruesome accounts of being raped by soldiers in front of family members who tried to prevent their daughters abductions.
(Above you'll see where an event was held to honor the 'comfort wome' in front of Wangsimni Station. High school students, community members, and even the mayor came out to support. We made t-shirts, and wore them as we watched the students participate in a flashmob. It was pretty awesome!)
Japan claims to have made compensation for these crimes with treaties, and cash (about $8.7 million) to help victims. However, it has taken years for Japan to admit to it’s crimes against these women, and even longer for them to apologize.
Agreements were made between the Japanese and Korean government that would, "refrain from criticizing and blaming each other in the international society, including the United Nations," officials have stated.
Outrage has ensued because of the appearance of the statues, however, the importance of this piece of history should not be hidden.
The statue represents peace, equality for women, resilience, strength, and most of all solidarity. None of which criticize or place blame anywhere, but simply acknowledges the hardship these women and their families have faced.
It has been important for the Korean people to remember this part of their history, and to honor the women who suffered by doing so.