*Halmoni means “grandmother” in Korean. The victims are often addressed as “grandmothers” because the young girls and women who were once sex slaves had grown old by the time the inhumane crimes committed against them were made known to the world. Bok-Dong Kim Halmoni often identified herself as a butterfly freely flying, rising from the bondage of suffering.
This video is the last sit-down interview of Kim Bok-dong Halmoni.
The post below is translated from the Korean Council* http://womenandwar.net/kr/?ckattempt=2
Life of Kim Bok-dong Halmoni
1926: Born in Yangsan, South Gyeongsang Province
1940: At the age of 14, forcibly taken as the Japanese military ‘comfort woman’ by the Japanese military to China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore, through the invasion route of the Japanese Military
1945: Disguised as a nurse and labored in the 10th Infantry Hospital in Singapore under the command of the 16th Headquarter of the Japanese Military, was abandoned and imprisoned in the U.S. military prison camp
1947: At the age of 22, returned home after 8 years since her mobilization as Japanese military ‘comfort women’
March, 1992: Spoke out as a former Japanese military ‘comfort women’ and began activism
August, 1992: Testified at the 1st Asian Solidarity Conference for the Resolution of the Issue of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan
June, 1993: Attended and testified at the International Human Rights Convention in Vienna, Austria
2000: Participated as one of the plaintiffs in the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery and testified with written documents
March, 2011: Proposed and donated to the fundraising campaign for victims of Tohoku earthquakes and tsunami in Japan
March 8th, 2012: With the Korean Council, established the Butterfly Fund to support victims of sexual violence in conflict
July 30th, 2012: Received Women of Courage Award from the Glendale City Council, California, U.S.
2012~2016: Carried out international campaigns at the UNHRC and in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Norway, Japan to promote a world without war or victims of sexual violence in conflict
July 30th, 2013: Attended the opening ceremony of the Statue of Peace in Glendale City, California, which is the first Statue of Peace established abroad
March 7th, 2014: Stood in solidarity with the victims of sexual violence by the Korean military during the U.S. War in Vietnam through a video message
May 2015: Selected in the “100 Heros Pour la Liberte de la Presse” for the 30th anniversary of Reporters Without Borders and the 70th anniversary ofAFP
June 25th, 2015: Donated 50,000,000 won to the Butterfly Fund for scholarship for children in war and armed conflict regions
December 10th, 2015: Received Human Rights Award of Korea by the Korean National Human Rights Commission on the occasion of the 67th anniversary of UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights
July 6th, 2017: Delivered Kim Bok-dong Scholarship to two high school students of Chosen Gakko (school for Korean-Japanese students)
*Chosen gakko, school for Korean-Japanese students, were excluded from the tuition subsidy program since the Abe Shinzo Government
August 2017: Pledged to donate rest of her belongings after death
September 26, 2017: Was inducted to the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Hall of Fame
November 23, 2017: Donated 10,000,000 won to help the victims of an earthquake in Pohang, South Korea
November 25, 2017: Received Women’s Human Rights Award from the Foundation for Justice and Remembrance for the Issue of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan
November 27, 2017: Donated the entirety of her award (50,000,000 won) to the Foundation for Justice and Remembrance for the Issue of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan in order to establish Kim Bok-dong Peace Prize - the first receipient was Acan Sylvia Obal of Uganda, who sought to raise awareness of sexual violence in conflict and support victims of sexual violence in conflict around the world
December 10, 2017: Along with the Korean Council, was indcuted to the Gender Justice Legacy Wall by the international human rights organization Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice
June 9, 2018: Attended the Kibotane (Seed of Hope) Conference, spoke, and awarded scholarships to students from chosen gakko
December 10, 2018: Was appointed as the honorary president of Kim Bok-dong’s Hope
November 22, 2018: Donated 50,000,000 won to Kim Bok-dong’s Hope to support chosen gakko
January 2, 2019: Received the first Person of Righteousness Prize and donated the prize of 5,000,000 won to Kim Bok-dong’s Hope
Message of Kim Bok-dong Halmoni
Kim Bok-dong halmoni was one of many girls in Korea who were forcibly taken to battlefields as the Japanese military sex slave. She was taken at the age of 14 and came back after 8 years.As a survivor of the war, she represented numerous victims who could not survive or who lived in silence. Halmoni was a peace and human rights activist who demanded a formal and sincere apology and reparations from the Japanese Government. In addition to trying to resolve the issues surrounding the Japanese military sexual slavery, she also led the movement to combat the perpetuating sexual violence in conflict as the Peace Butterfly.
Kim Bok-dong halmoni attended the Wednesday Demonstration every week, meeting students and citizens and calling for a world in which everyone can live together peacefully. She warmly greeted and encouraged activists from Japan and urged international visitors to create a peaceful world without war that does not create any more victims of sexual violence. Kim Bok-dong halmoni's relentless efforts and activism are well-reflected in her statements below:
“I am a victim of Japanese military sexual slavery. I fight in front of the Japanese Embassy every Wednesday, demanding the restoration of our dignity and human rights.And I understand how much the women across the world who are victims of sexual violence in conflict like us still suffer. I want to help them. —Kim Bok-dong halmoni during a press conference regarding the establishment of the Butterfly Fund on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2012
“Although I suffered as a Japanese military sex slave, as a Korean citizen, I apologize to the women who suffered sexual violence by the Korean soldiers during the U.S. War in Vietnam. I will support your living through out your life with the Butterfly Fund. We should all work together to ensure a world without war for our future generations, so I also urge every country to join in their efforts.” —Kim Bok-dong halmoni in a message of apology and solidarity with the Vietnamese victims of sexual violence by the Korean soldiers, March 8, 2014
“Our country (South and North Korea) should collaborate and be unified so that our descendants won’t suffer what I suffered. It’s my wish that the future generation live without any worries in a peaceful world without war.” —Kim Bok-dong halmoni at the Wednesday Demonstration, October 5, 2016
As her life work indicates, Kim Bok-dong halmoni elevated the awareness on the issues of Japanese military sexual slavery and promoted dialogues on prevention of sexual violence in conflict internationally. The survivors of sexual violence in conflict from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, address Kim Bok-dong halmoni as “our hero,” “our mama,” and “our hope.” The movement led by the survivors of Japanese military sexual slavery unites the victims of sexual violence in conflict and spreads the movement stronger, louder, and further. Transnational solidarity beyond borders is a new hope for preventing sexual violence in conflict and creating a peaceful world.