68. Summary: Research 2008

I traveled this summer to Asia including Korea, Taiwan, and Japan to meet "Comfort Women" survivors, and to interview a former Japanese Imperial Army soldier who served during W.W.II and witnessed the "Comfort Women" system first hand. I plan to continue research in Asia next year, to meet Chinese, Dutch, Filipino, and Indonesian survivors.

Subsequently, I will create artworks based on the research, and attempt to bring to light this instance of organized violence against women and to help restore the honor of those who lived through so much.

It has been a great honor to meet these courageous and outspoken "Comfort Women" in Korea and Taiwan, who are helping to keep this important history alive. I look forward to my continued research in Asia.

67. Summary: Korea Research

I interviewed 9 Korean "Comfort Women" at Nanumeh-Jip ("The House of Sharing"), and at Shim Toh ("A resting place"). A majority of all "Comfort Women" were Korean, and most did not survive the war and harsh treatment. Of those who did survive, most kept the events a secret because it would be considered shameful and reflect badly on their families. Despite this, over 250 Korean "Comfort Women" came out in the 1990's. Now aged in their 80's and 90's, most of them are in poor health and only 99 surviving women remain.

In order to understand this complicated issue better, I had meetings with many activists, sociologists, historians, and scholars. Among those I interviewed were Professor Jung Oak Yun, and Professor Hyo Chae Lee who are founding and central figures working to bring the "Comfort Women" issue to international attention, and Won Soon Park, Social Designer and Executive Director of The Hope Institute, working for institutional change and social justice in Korea.

I attended a Symposium for the 10th Anniversary of the Comfort Women Museum at Nanumeh-Jip. Historians and activists from Korea, Japan, and U.S.A. gathered to discuss strategies on the "Comfort Women" issue now that United States House of Representatives House Resolution 121 has been passed.

I also visited "The Museum of Japanese Imperial Army's Sexual Slavery" and "The Center for Peace and Human Rights," "The Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Sexual Slavery by Japan," and "War & Women's Rights Museum."

To know more about the Korean art scene I met with Yu Yeon Kim  curator, Yoon-kyung Kwon curator at Seoul Auction, Min Seok Seo curator at Seoul Arts Center, and Bowon Chung Public Art sculptor.

Korea - from Google Maps

Every Wednesday people, including Korean "comfort women," have gathered since 1992 to protest for justice for these women.

Interviewing Korean "Comfort Women"

66. Summary: Taiwan Research

I interviewed 6 Taiwanese "Comfort Women" with diverse backgrounds including Taiwanese, Hakanese, and Aboriginal Taiwanese through valuable help and support from Graceia Lai, Director of International Affairs, Shu-Hue Kang, Deputy Executive Director, and Huiling Wu, Associate Supervisor at The Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation(TWRF). There were by some estimates 2,000 Taiwanese "Comfort Women". 58 women came out in the 1990's. Now, 21 remain.

I stayed as a resident artist at The Bamboo Curtain Studio during my visit to Taipei, and got lots of support from Margaret Tan, the Director, and Ann Yao, the Programme Director who are particularly interested in art focusing on social and environmental concerns.

I met with Yaohua Su, Director of Taipei Artist Village; Rita Chang, Representative and Melissa Chan, Program Associate at The Asian Cultural Council in Taipei; and artists such as Lulu Shur-tzy Hou, Mali Wu, and Betsy Lan to talk about the art world in Taiwan.

Taiwan - from Google Maps

Interviewing two Hakanese "Comfort Women"

With Graceia Lai and Shu-Hue Kang at The Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation (TWRF)


65. Summary: Japan Research

I had an opportunity to interview Mr. Kaneko, a former Japanese soldier - through Mina Watanabe, Secretary General/Curator, and Alison Scott, a Dutch Canadian assistant at Women's Active Museum (WAM) on War and Peace in Tokyo.

With the help of Georg Kochi, Representative at The Asian Cultural Council in Japan, I stayed at Youkobo Art Space and met Hiroko Murata and Tatsuhiko Murata, Directors.

To help me further understand the art scene in Japan Mr. Kochi also arranged a meeting with Mami Kataoka, Senior Curator at Mori Art Museum in Ropponggi Hills Mori Tower.

Japan - from Google Maps

At Women's Active Museum (WAM) on War and Peace in Tokyo


64. Former Japanese soldier

Friday September 5, 2008

Alison Scott, a Dutch Canadian assistant at Women's Active Museum on War and Peace, took me to the home of Mr. Yasuji Kaneko, a former Japanese soldier. Alison's grandmother survived a Japanese concentration camp in Indonesia. (It is estimated that 400 Dutch women were taken as sex slaves during WWII.) 

Mr. Kaneko was a soldier of the Imperial Japanese Army during WWII, and came forward in the 90's to speak about war crimes. He had a strong sense of duty to tell what he experienced and witnessed. "So, this kind of violence against women doesn't happen again. War is not good for anybody," he said.

Traveling with Alison 
At Mr. Kaneko's home

Alison translating

63. Mami Kataoka curator

Thursday September 4, 2008

I had a meeting with Mami Kataoka, a curator at Mori Art Museum in the Ropponggi Hills Mori Tower. We talked about my projects, and issues involving "comfort women" and human trafficking. 

62. WAM Displays

Wednesday September 3, 2008

Displays at Women's Active Museum(WAM) on War and Peace(WAM).

Locations of the "Comfort Stations" in Asia

History of the "Comfort Women"

Pictures of high-ranking Japanese officials accused of war crimes, and of "The Women's International War Crimes Tribunal for the Trial of Japanese Military Sexual Slavery" in Tokyo, Japan on December 2000. 

Pictures of "comfort women" at the entrance to WAM

61. WAM on War and Peace

Wednesday September 3, 2008

I had a meeting with Mina Watanabe, Secretary General/Curator, and Alison Scott, a Dutch Canadian assistant, at Women's Active Museum(WAM)on War and Peace. We discussed the purpose of my project and the difficulties associated with the "comfort women" issue in Japan.

On the aims of Women's Active Museum on War and Peace:
"Why don't we found a strategic basis to record and bear in mind the facts of what military forces did against women and how cruelly they were damaged during wartime, and let a peaceful future without violence come true?"

"Wam started with five action targets to bring this dream into reality: Focus on wartime violence, declaring that justice free from any gender bias shall be universally applied; Gather and exhibit data on individual victims, clarifying who is to take responsibility for such victimization; Create an action basis to realize a peaceful and non-violence future; Produce a people's movement without depending on any state power; Take action to enable cross-border solidarity."

Entering WAM

With Mina Watanabe

With Mina Watanabe, Secretary General/Curator, and Alison Scott, a Dutch Canadian assistant

60. ACC in Japan

Monday September 1, 2008

At The Asian Cultural Council(ACC)/Japan-US Arts Program, I met with Georg Kochi, Representative, and Misuzu Yamamoto, Program Associate. 

Georg and Misuzu arranged accomodation for me, and suggested museums and galleries in Tokyo. He also offered to try to arrange some meetings with curators during my visit in Japan. Later he contacted me and set up a meeting with Mami Kataoka of the Mori Art Museum.

59. Arriving in Japan

Sunday August 31, 2008

I arrived at Youkobo Art Space in Japan. Youkobo is run by Tatsuhiko Murata and Hiroko Murata. Its Artist-In-Residence Program (AIR), provides a place for both international and Japanese artists. I had a nice Japanese style living space. We also met a number of interesting artists and curators there.

With Tatsuhiko Murata and Hiroko Murata 

58. Wednesday Protest

Wednesday August 27, 2008

I went to a Wednesday Protest before my departure to Japan. Many Koreans and Japanese, and Korean "comfort women" *halmunis were protesting in front of the Japanese Embassy. I wished the halmunis good health and long life as I said good-bye to them.

* "halmunis" in Korean, or "ahmas" in Taiwanese means "grandmas". (In Asia, elders are commonly referred to as grandmother or grandfather, whether you are related to them or not, as a way of showing respect.)

With Soni Kum who works at Nanumeh-Jip(The House of Sharing)

Korean "comfort women" halmunis 

With Halmunis

With Young Mee Son who takes care of the halmunis at Shim Toh

57. Min Seok Seo curator

Tuesday August 26, 2008

I had a meeting with Min Seok Seo, a curator at Seoul Arts Center. We talked about my projects and later, he showed me around the arts center.

56. Dawn Korean art center

Monday August 25, 2008

I was invited by Seongmin Ahn, artist, to an informal Korean tea at Dawn Korean art center. Hee Suk Jung is a Korean traditional dress (Hanbok) designer and can also perform the formal Korean Tea Ceremony. She also gives historical walking tours of the local neighborhood. Her studio was filled with Buddhist's chanting music and very peaceful, yet full of energy. I also met Dae Bong Sunim who is a Zen Buddhist Monk at Mu Sang Sa, Gye Ryong Sahn Int'l Zen Center.

Later, Hee Suk took me to some galleries in Seoul including Gana Gallery, Arario Gallery and Hyundai Gallery. She also introduced me to Joon Eui Noh, Director at Total Museum of Contemporary Art.

Hee Suk Jung and Seongmin Ahn

Hee Suk Jung performing an informal tea ceremony

With Joon Eui Noh and Hee Suk Jung at Total Museum of Contemporary Art.

55. Yoon-Kyung Kwon curator

Saturday August 23, 2008

I had lunch with Yoon-kyung Kwon and her parents. Yoon-kyung is a curator at Seoul Auction. We talked about my projects and the art scene in Korea.

54. Professor Chung Oak Yun

Friday August 22, 2008

I had a meeting with Professor Chung Oak Yun at a quiet cafe near Ewha Women's University on a very rainy day. 

Professor Yun is a founding and central figure among the South Korean women working to bring the comfort women issue to international attention. We had a three-hour long meeting about the history of the Korean "comfort women."

53. Ssamzie Space

Friday August 22, 2008

I met with Hyunjin Shin, a curator at Ssamzie Space. We spoke about the art scene in Korea and Ssamzie's programs.

52. Jin Hwan Kim's Dance

Thursday August 21, 2008

I was invited to a party at Jin Hwan Kim's Korean traditional dance company. They had performed "A flower is blossomed and smiling" which was dedicated to Korean "comfort women" at the Korean Independence Day at Nanumeh-Jip.

Jin Hwan Kim, Director

The performers dancing at the party 

51. Korean Halmunis

Monday August 18, 2008

Young-Soo Lee *halmuni invited me to "Shim Toh" ("The Resting Place") in Seoul. It was a house where Young Soo Lee halmuni and Soon-Duk Lee halmuni have lived. Young-Mee Son takes care of the halmunis.

We all sat together and had a long and fruitful conversation. Young-Soo Lee halmuni is strong-willed and always the life of the party. Soon-Duk Lee halmuni sang for us, performing the Korean traditional "Changka" beautifully as she danced.

Afterwards, we went for a little walk outside in the courtyard.

* "halmunis" in Korean, or "ahmas" in Taiwanese means "grandmas". (In Asia, elders are commonly referred to as grandmother or grandfather, whether you are related to them or not, as a way of showing respect.)

50. Traveling to Shim Toh

Monday August 18, 2008

I left Nanumeh-Jip with Young-Soo Lee *halmuni to go to "Shimtoh" in Seoul. It was raining hard early morning when I said good-bye to all the halmunis. They were worried about our departure in the harsh weather. A nurse who takes good care of the halmunis gave us a ride to the bus station.

* "halmunis" in Korean, or "ahmas" in Taiwanese means "grandmas". (In Asia, elders are commonly referred to as grandmother or grandfather, whether you are related to them or not, as a way of showing respect.)

With Young-Soo Lee halmuni

At the bus station

Back in Seoul, on the way to Shimtoh

49. Duck barbecue dinner

Sunday August 17, 2008

Volunteer moms treated the halmunis and everyone at Nanumeh-Jip to a special duck barbecue dinner.

* "halmunis" in Korean, or "ahmas" in Taiwanese means "grandmas". (In Asia, elders are commonly referred to as grandmother or grandfather, whether you are related to them or not, as a way of showing respect.)