Newsletter of the World Friendship Center, NPO
Participating in the Korean Pax
I learned many things and experienced many meaningful days while participating in the Korean Pax. For example, I learned about military comfort women and Korea in the Japan colonial period. I’d like to tell about four of my most impressionable experiences.
First, on the morning of the second day, I saw demonstrations held in front of a military comfort women statue near the Japanese Embassy. Many people participated in the demonstrations due to the day falling on May Day, including many students. Some, wearing yellow dresses like Jakie Chan, hit something like a sponge ball which had a face photo of Prime Minister Abe on it, which was interesting. Girl students and women with
their children also participated. I thought they were more interested in politics than Japanese people. Enjoyable activities like dances and songs were performed during demonstrations. I was surprised and interested, thinking that those looked nicer than in Japan. However, I also felt sad to see mothers participating with their small children, exposing them to Anti-Japanese sentiment at such a young age. Moreover, I had a strange feeling that I would betray my country joining this demonstration.
Second, I visited the House of Sharing. I learned about military comfort women when I visited the historical museum located on the spot where the House of Sharing was founded. I was a little bit tense because some Korean army soldiers were there. I had thought that Military Comfort Women would be all Chinese or Korean. So, I was surprised to know that
there were Japanese military comfort women too. I had an opportunity to meet former military comfort women and to hear about many things. One said to me, “I am able to forgive the present-day Japanese who were not born when I was a comfort woman. I am glad to hear your apology, but you are not responsible. My heart is not healed.” Her words impacted me deeply. She said that she wanted the Prime Minister Abe and Emperor Showa to apologize to her which made me understand what severe sufferings she had undergone.
Third, I went to Gyeongbokgung Palace. I often have seen historical Korean plays on TV, and was glad to see close-up the historical building which I saw in the TV program. I realized again that the Korean Palace was splendid. This was my second time to visit Seoul and Gyeongbokgung. I saw more black people and Westerners than the last time. I realized that Korea has become globalized.
Fourth, I experienced interaction with the host family in Korea. I was treated to Korean food – dak galbi on the second day of my visit, and to samgyupsal on the third day, as well as a Korean alcohol, mak goeli. While drinking together at that time, we talked about my grandfather and politics. Through this conversation, I learned about historical Korean plays, Korean children’s songs and the educational system of Korea. I had a friendly conversation with the host mother because both of us had something in common, learning Chinese a little. Given a lot of good sightseeing advice, I spent an enjoyable time while I was free on the fourth day.
Allow me to use this opportunity to apologize for having troubled many people when I got on the wrong train when I changed trains and got lost. I learned many things and had a valuable Golden Week. Karen invited me to participate in a summer camp in Nanjing which I’d love to do. I’d like to express my deepest gratitude to the host family in Korea, people of the Peacebuilding group that accepted the Korean PAX, and members of the WFC.
Translated by Sachiko Hiraoka
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