Located behind the Fairfax County Government Center, in Fairfax, VA, is a small memorial dedicated to the women and girls forced into sex slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army before, and during, World War II.
Women (some as young as fourteen) from Korea, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Netherlands and East Timor were kidnapped, or coerced under false pretenses, and made to serve the Japanese army in frontline brothels. It is estimated that over 200,000 girls and women served as “comfort women” at these “comfort stations.”
These women were beaten, repeatedly raped, and brutalized in ways that defies the imagination.
Many never returned home.
Much controversy surrounds this memorial, and ones like it. I am not sharing this to debate anything or to stir up hate. My heart goes out to the people of both Korea and Japan. Some atrocities are so big, and wounds so deep, that there is no payment big enough, and no apology adequate enough, to truly repay for what was done. We have some of the same struggles here, in the United States.
Only God can heal these hurts. We all must learn to be humble enough to ask for forgiveness when we have wronged others. And we must be willing to forgive when we are the ones who have been wronged…whether an apology is ever extended, or not. This is never easy – but it is essential for freedom.
Whenever women in this country (US) rage about the unfair treatment of women in our society, my mind turns to these courageous halmonis and lolas (grandmas), who fight with what little strength that remains in their frail little bodies for the simple acknowledgement of what happened to them…and a sincere apology. My heart breaks for them and I fear that the last of them may pass away without justice being served. I cling to the promise:
The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.Psalm 103:6
My mind also turns to every woman who is currently trapped in the bondage of human trafficking. I would love to see us, as free and empowered women, turn our focus to our sisters who are suffering in a darkness most of us cannot truly comprehend.
Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.Isaiah 1:17
I was glad to be able to take my oldest son with me to visit the memorial. My prayer is that what he learned on our small adventure will continue to resonate with him as he, in the very near future, ventures out into the world on his own.
If you would like to learn more about Comfort Women, here is an interview with Kim Bok Dong halmoni, shortly before she passed away.
I would also like to add that my son and I enjoyed lunch at the local H-Mart food court, as well as, shopping for some of our favorite Korean snacks and ingredients for making kimchi. I’m really going to miss my Korean food shopping buddy when he leaves in less than two months.