SF’s “Comfort Women” Statue Honors Victims of Japanese Sex Trafficking

Former World War II "comfort woman" Yongsoo Lee, 89, of South Korea, stands by a statue of Haksoon Kim while looking at the "Comfort Women" monument after it was unveiled Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in San Francisco. The monument was dedicated to the young women victims of Japanese military sexual slavery from 1932 until the end of World War II in 1945. Haksoon Kim was the first to break the silence about "comfort women" in 1991. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Yong-soo Lee, 89, a “comfort woman” during World War II, touches the statue of the late Grandma Hak-soon Kim who first broke the silence by publicly speaking out in 1991. This is one of the figures in the Chinatown “Comfort Woman” memorial. Lee, at the age of 15, was kidnapped from her home in Korea and forced to work in a Taiwan brothel that served Japanese soldiers. Photo: Associated Press.

Several hundred thousand women and girls, euphemistically called “Comfort Women,” were sexually enslaved by the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces in 13 Asia-Pacific countries from 1931 to 1945.

In the 1990s, survivors courageously broke their silence and revealed this dark history that had been hidden for decades.

On Friday, September 22, 2017, a bronze monument dedicated to the “Comfort Women” was unveiled in St. Mary’s Square Annex in  San Francisco. SF’s

The memorial is the product of unity among countless volunteers, activists, scholars and teachers, students, youth parents and grandparents who joined under the united banner of the “Comfort Women” Justice Coalition to make the memorial a reality.

“We all share the same humanity. This is an issue for everyone. This is about a sincere apology from the government of Japan,” said Yong-soo Lee, 89, a surviving comfort woman.

September 22 marked the two-year anniversary of the San Francisco resolution to establish a public monument in memory of the victims as a reminder to the ongoing sexual violence against women during wartime around the globe.

The effort was led by two San Francisco Superior Court Judges, Lillian Sing and Julie Tang (Retired). They worked closely with the City of San Francisco Arts Commission and the Recreation and Park Department to select the location, the design and the inscription that would best represent the purpose of the monument.

The sculptor is Steven Whyte of Carmel, Ca. The monument shows Grandma Haksoon Kim, (the first who broke the silence in 1991) in Korean traditional dress looking at three girls in traditional Korean, Chinese and the Filipino dress holding hands on top of a cylinder. The statues are life-sized.


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