This past Sunday I had the humbling and amazing opportunity to visit the House of Sharing in Gwangju, Gyeonggi-do province, about 45 minutes from Seoul. The House of Sharing is both a museum and home to former “Comfort Women” – survivors of sexual slavery at the hands of the Japanese military during the Asia-Pacific War (1932-1945). It is the world’s first human rights museum centered on the theme of sexual slavery.
Eight of these women live in the house today. They are called the halmonis (할머니), or grandmothers. During World War Two, they were what many called wee-an-bu (위안부) or “comfort women”, 200,000 of the girls and young women from all across Asia who were taken by the Japanese to work as sex slaves.
The term “comfort women” is obviously a euphemism used by the perpetrators in order to lessen the horrific reality of the situation. The official name for these women is ”Women drafted for military sexual slavery by Japan” or Cheong Sin Dae 정신대.
A bronze statue that represents what these women would have wanted from their life at the time – she wears a traditional marriage crown, on her right is a suitor and on her left is a family. The waves symbolize prosperity in childbirth.