Posters Seek to Raise Awareness of Comfort Women New York City

Comfort Women Poster (designed by Kyoungduk Seo)

As we have reported, the efforts of Japanese officials to remove a New Jersey monument commemorating the sexual slavery of Korean “Comfort Women” taken by the Japanese army in World War II seems to have backfired, with Korean-Americans racing to erect more monuments to bring attention to the women’s plight and to protest what they see as Japanese efforts to deny that the episode occurred.

The issue is nothing new to Kyoungduk Seo, a professor at Sungshin Women’s University in Seoul and a Korean public relations specialist. Seo has devoted his life to bringing attention to the “Comfort Women” episode, and the Japanese efforts to remove the Palisades Park Comfort Women monument inspired him to take on a new campaign. He and eight Korean students distributed 2,500 posters commemorating the brutal episode in New York City — at Union Square, Times Square, Central Park and several other prominent locations. This poster asserts that “The Japanese goverment needs to learn from Germany’s actions.”

Newsroh published an article on the campaign and interviewed Seo, as well as a Holocaust survivor and a Japanese-American who was sympathetic to his cause. An excerpt is translated below:

“The most effective way to force the Japanese government to apologize to Comfort Women is raising public consciousness all over the world,” said Seo, who has ran ads on the abuse of Comfort Women by the Japanese army in mainstream publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

Japan’s efforts to remove the Comfort Women monument [in Palisades Park] backfired, because through the press coverage of the controversy over the monument, Americans who didn’t know much about the existence of Comfort Women are now aware of the atrocities done by the Japanese army in World War II and are sick of Japan’s lies.

“If the Japanese government denies the existence of Comfort Women, it is like denying the Nazis’ Holocaust,” said Ethel Kartz, a Holocaust survivor. “The government should confess their faults on Comfort Women and apologize for them as soon as possible.”

Even a Japanese-American, who wanted to remain anonymous, agreed. “I can’t face people when they are talking about Comfort Women,” said the person, who is in his or her 40s. “Why does [the government] deny the faults of the past and make [Japanese] descendants feel ashamed?”

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