‘Comfort Women’: ‘We Have to Confront the Historical Pain’


Lee OK-Seon flowers

Lee Ok-Seon accepts flowers after her talk at SMU. The 90-year-old South Korean is one of about 44 survivors of Japanese military sexual slavery (as “comfort women”) during World War II. Her account of the brutality she endured after her abduction at age 14 brought a hush across the filled-to-capacity McCoy Auditorium.

“Most people have little-to-no knowledge of ‘comfort women’ during the war, and certainly haven’t heard the kind of first-hand testimony European Holocaust survivors have been able to share. So it was imperative we host a program with a survivor who could speak from her own experience. Some 75 years on, the struggle for justice goes on. But we have to confront the historical pain. We can’t pretend it didn’t happen. It’s the only way our students can go into this world as educated adults and make a difference for the better.” 

3. Rick on VIETVRick Halperin, director of SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program, during VIETV coverage of the April 22 SMU event, “An Evening With Lee Ok-Seon.”

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