Grandmothers, Our Grandmothers: Remembering the Comfort Women of World War II (Paperback)
They have waited 75 years for an acknowledgment that what was done to them was a war crime. They are still waiting. Grandmothers, Our Grandmothers is a beautifully and sensitively rendered narrative of the ongoing crusade of WWII's most courageous survivors: the "Comfort Women"--sex slaves--of the Japanese Imperial Army. This offering in graphic novel format is both a moving tribute and a call to awareness that, though addressing young adults, speaks to all of us. Because crimes against any part of humanity are crimes against all humanity, such acts, and the brave people who endure them, must never be forgotten. Focusing on the "Comfort Women" of his native Korea as well as from other countries, author and artist Han Seong-won tells the stories of women who were coerced, sometimes through abduction, into sexual slavery wherever the Japanese army put down stakes. Through his personal encounters with these valiant women, Han portrays strong individuals who refused to allow their identities to be defined by what was forced upon them. Rather, they are defined by their continuing triumph over pain, loss and memory even though their ordeals remain with them in some form to this day. Now in their nineties, these women are artists, musicians and activists. They share their personal stories with us, and give us their testimony. This book honors so many women, like Grandmother Kang Il-chul, abducted from her home at gunpoint when she was a girl, threatened with murder when she contracted typhoid. And Grandmother Kim Hak-soon, who began giving public testimony in 1991, testified before the UN in 1993, and remained an activist for the rest of her life. It honors women who bore witness on behalf of their mothers, who kept their ordeal a secret and carried it to their graves. It honors those who have been standing in solidarity beside these women over the years. Alongside passionate advocates from younger generations, the Grandmothers in Korea have been protesting on a weekly basis since 1992--speaking for all victims of war and violations of human rights. This is a warm and loving tribute to the Grandmothers and the courage which led them to speak out. This book is a call to all of us to stand up for the basic rights of others.
Han Seong-won has been writing and drawing books and articles about modern Korean history for over twenty years. A documentary project on women and war led him on the path to exploring the "comfort women" problem, a still fresh example of the long arm of war. During this journey, through collections of written accounts and participation in the Wednesday Protests, he had the opportunity to speak with surviving Grandmothers who experienced this still unresolved, ignominious moment in human history. This book is his gift and tribute to the Grandmothers and all victims of human rights violations.