Members sought ways to foster female leaders
“I have always thought that comfort women survivors would feel hopeless about their lives. But I realized I have been wrong all along when I looked at the flowers in their drawings. We will push forward to demand the Japanese government admit its guilt, apologize to victims, and compensate them.”
Kim Young-chae who owns a business in Brazil said, “I really appreciate these paintings by survivors. They motivate us to carry out a very solemn responsibility to address the comfort women issue.”
Professional women of Korean descent gathered in Daejeon to address the comfort women issue. The conference, held from August 27 to 30, organized a special session and invited survivor Kim Bok-dong to share her stories. Other special guests included animation director Kim Jun-ki and picture book writer Kwon Yoon-deok. While director Kim is famous for his film “Herstory” in which a comfort woman survivor tells her own experiences, writer Kwon is well-known for her book “Flower Grandmother.” During this session, all the participants were soaked in tears.
On August 28, a statement was announced to urge the Japanese government to solve the issue of comfort women. The statement read, “Despite unremitting calls from the Korean government and the United Nations, the Japanese government continues to distort the internationally recognized fact that Korean and other Asian women were mobilized by the Japanese government for the sole purpose of sexual servitude to its forces. Furthermore despite international pressure, the Japanese government avoids taking political and historical responsibility toward its victims. We have reached a point where we can no longer tolerate the Japanese government’s attitude.”
Hence, KOWIN states the following:
△ KOWIN demands that the Japanese government admit that Japan exploited women from the Republic of Korea and other Asian nations for the purpose of sexual servitude to its forces during its colonial occupation. △ KOWIN demands that the Japanese government recognize issues regarding ‘comfort women,’ apologize to victims, and compensate them for damages. △ KOWIN demands that the Japanese government rightly educate students about the ‘comfort women’ issue.
Survivor Kim said, “We can't do this on our own. Now is the time for the Korean government to take action. Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself. We have to leave a better world for our children.” Standing representative Yoon Mee-hyang of the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan said, “The solution to our problem lies in all of you. On top of everything, we need to enhance our network further.”
Many renowned figures including Cho Yoon-sun, Minister of Gender Equality and Family, Yeom Hong-cheol, Mayor of Daejeon city, Kim Sang-hee, Chair of the Committee on Gender Equality and Family of the National Assembly, Kim Jeong-sook, President of the Korean National Council of Women, and Kim Kyoung-hee, Co-Representative of the Korean National Council of Women attended the opening ceremony. President Park Geun-hye sent congratulatory messages via video, saying “I believe your success will lead to the development of our nation. I would do my utmost so that women leaders can fully tap into their potential and that the nation as a whole can take a great leap forward.”
Under the theme of “The role of Korean women in fostering female leaders,” the conference was organized by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and Daejeon Metropolitan City. On the first day (August 27), KOWIN regional directors reported their work and interacted with one another. On 28th, there were opening ceremony and special sessions at Daejeon Convention Center. On 29th and 30th, Lee Bae-yong, former chair of the Presidential Council on National Branding, and Na Seung-yeon, a mentor of the Special Committee on Young People, delivered lectures. Moreover, experts from diverse fields shared their experiences and stories. In addition, all the participants were offered chances to visit cultural sites in the area.