NEW YORK – I am perplexed by Hiroaki Sato’s article, “‘Comfort women’ issue is far from black and white,” that was published Oct. 27.
Why did Sato scrutinize the input made by Elaine Kim and Dara Kay Cohen in the New Yorker article, “An Important Statue for ‘Comfort Women’ in San Francisco” (The New Yorker, Oct. 12), rather than agree that their contributions to the topic are important? It is regrettable that Park Yu-ha’s perspective was not included in the article, but both Kim and Cohen had ties to the topic and made comments that were directly in relation to the comfort women statue that was put up in San Francisco.
I agree that Park’s perspective as a South Korean woman is a viewpoint to keep in mind since her book is to show that the current rhetoric excludes the women who had different experiences and that the issue is complex. She still believes the women deserve an apology, but there also needs to be more communication, education, and nuance surrounding the issue.
Sato seems to use her to brush off the fact that many women were forced to adapt to situations beyond their control and did experience brutality. Just because some were treated well does not erase or justify the experiences of those women who were objectified, experienced extreme brutality and were not allowed to leave.
We must remember that “comfort women” is a term for women pushed into sexual slavery and were not allowed the full agency over their bodies and their experiences. I disagree with the claim that the sex work women optionally do around United States military bases is the same as sexual slavery. To say that they are remotely similar diminishes the experiences of those who suffered.