From Breaking the Silence to Being Heard: Military Sexual Slavery and Peace Through Law
This show marks the 30th anniversary of Korean Kim Hak Sun's (김학순) (1924-1997) decision to break the silence about Japan's military sexual slavery during World War II. On August 14, 1991, Ms. Kim, a Korean, decided to make public her horrifying ordeal that began when she was 17 years old. This decision began a process of testimony, education and reconciliation that continues to this day. In this show, we focus on the issue of sexual slavery as it has affected Korea. We begin by discussing some passages from the historical novel One Left by Kim Soom (translated into English by Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton). The novel's fictitious protagonist, P'unggil, is impacted by Hak Sun's testimony, and the novel incorporates the experiences of numerous other actual victims in its narrative, such as Kim Bok Dong (김복동) and Gil Won Ok (길원옥). Kim Hak Sun's testimony not only empowered other women to come forward, it launched a wave of court cases, beginning with her own in 1991 against Japan. These cases raise important legal and ethical questions, among them: the tension between sovereign immunity proper redress for human rights violations, and the scope of a state's duty regarding its citizens. Our hope is that the listener becomes more conscious of this under-told story of tragedy and the role of law in establishing peace and justice for victims of state sanctioned violence.