Seoul National University’s Chung Chin Sung Research Team was officially organized in 2014 and the team specializes in archiving WWII Allied powers’ historical records related to the women drafted into the Japanese military’s system of sexual slavery, commonly known as “comfort women.”
Since 2016, this team, along with the Seoul Metropolitan Government, has been engaged in the project of producing for the public books and other materials related to the “comfort women” issue. We also held a nonprofit public exhibition that aimed to provide new perspectives on the “comfort women” issue through documents, testimonies, and artwork.
The primary output of the research project was the collection of materials related to the Japanese military’s “comfort women” system from NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) in the US, the TNA (The National Archives) in the UK, and other national archives in Japan and other countries. These uncovered and collected materials were listed and categorized by producer or production unit, then, those results were compiled and incorporated into two books.
Be Taken, Be Left Out, and Be Standing on 1 and 2, as its title expresses, is a reconstructed history of policy related to comfort women according to their own stories. Although the word comfort implies rest, solace, and peacefulness, from the perspective of the victims, it was an experience full of violence and trauma. In the first book, the stories of ten comfort women are introduced. They are relatively famous and the most publically known victims. Since so-called “comfort stations” were established across the Asia Pacific region and Korean women were taken all across this region, the stories included here are also from the Philippines, China, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, and elsewhere. In the second book, there are stories from six women and other important topics related to comfort women are also introduced.
The exhibition Records Memories : Stories of "Comfort Women," Untold Words is one of the projects for recovering this buried history. It was held from February 25 to March 20, 2019 at the Seoul Center for Architecture & Urbanism.
The exhibition serves as an opportunity to reflect on our efforts of the past three decades in the process of dealing with the Japanese Military "comfort women" issue and to look forward to the future. This time the exhibition has stroved to create a space where people can understand the lives of victims, the scenes of battlefields around them, and the political situation of the time by linking their memories with the records that the Research Tem had found. The exhibition is organized to allow audience to indirectly experience the process of finding historical records and following the journey of "comfort women" as the Research Team had done.
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