The three are on bicycles, riding from Los Angeles, California to
New York raising awareness for a World War II travesty that they are
finding not a whole lot of Americans know about.
Han Kyul Kim, Tae Woo Kim, and Hyun Gu Kim (not related) are telling
their story at every stopping point, hoping that people will learn
and understand the savage treatment of women from Korean and other
small countries, by the Japanese during World War II.
The men explained, that as they travel, they often mention the
Holocaust, which is notably one of the most hideous crimes against
human rights ever. Most everyone they speak with knows about the
Holocaust and is repulsed by what happened to so many Jewish people
at the hands of Nazi Germany.
However, when they mention the Comfort Women, far fewer people know
and understand what that term means. That is why the three Kimís are
working to educate and raise awareness.
In World War II, the Japanese government determined that their
soldiers needed sexual satisfaction. The government also realized
the soldiers were finding this on their own by raiding villages and
raping young women. Instead of punishing the soldiers, the
government decided the best thing to do would be to control the
At first, they hired prostitutes to live in camps and serve the
needs of the soldiers. However, with the growth of the Japanese
Imperial Army, there were not enough women to serve all the
soldiers. The government then authorized the capture and enslaving
of women in Japanese-occupied areas.
The majority of these women were taken from Korea, but women were
also captured in the Philippines, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan,
Indonesia, the Netherlands, Australia, Vietnam, and even Japan.
The women were sexually abused multiple times a day by many
soldiers. If they fought the attacks, they were tortured or killed,
making them an example to others in the ďcolonyĒ as to what could
happen if they did not comply.
Many of these young women could not emotionally handle the
degradation, nor could they withstand the physical abuse, so they
often committed suicide to escape their captors. Those who did
survive the ordeals were left with horrible memories, physical and
emotional scars that followed them the rest of their lives.
A small number of those who did survive and were released from their
bondage, were strong enough to go forward with their lives. They
married and had families, and determined that they would tell their
stories to their children, and would not let this act of violence be
swept under the rug by the Japanese government.
The three Kimís
are part of the movement seeking an apology from the Japanese
government for the treatment of the Comfort Women. In their pamphlet
they hand out at each stop they note, ďWe are doing this for the
grandmothers who are courageously fighting for justice. We are doing
this for the sisters around the globe who are going through the same
kind of violence against women at this very moment. We are doing
this for our daughters so that they will live in a world without
such horrible human rights violations.Ē
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The Kimís noted that the United States Congress
has acknowledged the Comfort Women, and passed a resolution
stating that the Japanese government should apologize for
enslaving the Comfort Women. But, as of right now, the Japanese
have issued no such apology.
The young men said that is all they want. They want the Japanese
government to admit what they did was a terrible act against
humanity, and to apologize.
Coming to Lincoln last week, and stopping at the Lincoln
Heritage Museum was not an accident for the three Kimís. They
noted that they were here because of our 16th President, Abraham
Lincoln. ďWe think Lincoln himself, is the best president among
U.S. presidents since he worked for human rights for
anti-racism. So we really want to share our story with people
who live in Lincoln.Ē
When the Kimís arrived in Lincoln in the late afternoon last
week, on Monday, it was almost closing time at the Lincoln
Heritage Museum. However, going in and talking with the
volunteer at the front desk, the message was relayed to Tom
McLaughlin and Anne Mosely, the administrators at the museum,
that the three would like to take a tour of the Museum,
including the upstairs section which takes nearly an hour to
view. McLaughlin and Mosely graciously agreed to keep the museum
open so the three could take a tour, and experience the life of
Abraham Lincoln as depicted at the museum.
So, what would the three Kimís like for you to do? Itís pretty
simple. Their wish is that the American people will know and
understand this crime against women, and will speak about it and
share that it was a terrible and unjust act that the Japanese
government needs to acknowledge. They want us to promote seeking
an apology from the Japanese government to these women and their
families. They are hopeful that every state in our union will
pass resolutions similar to what has been passed by Congress.
They noted that two or three states have already passed
If interested, readers can track where the Kimís are located via
their Facebook page. Search for bikeforcomfortwomen.