The courage of that day, when history was changed
-On August 14, 1991, Kim Hak-sun, now departed, gave public testimony about her tragic experiences as a comfort woman for the first time among “comfort women” victims.
Designated as a national memorial day to shed light in Korea and abroad on the issue of the Japanese military’s “comfort women” and to honor the “comfort women” victims.
Article 11 of the Act on Protection and Support and Memorial Services, etc. for Sexual Slavery Victims for the Japanese Imperial Army (Memorial Projects, etc.)
Article 11-2 of the Act on Protection and Support and Memorial Services, etc. for Sexual Slavery Victims for the Japanese Imperial Army (Memorial Day for the Japanese Military’s Comfort Women Victims)
August 14 is the day on which Kim Hak-sun (1924-1997), a comfort woman victim, became the first to come forward to testify in public regarding her sufferings as a comfort woman for the Japanese military. Kim gave public testimony as to such sufferings for the first time among “comfort women” survivors at a press conference held on August 14, 1991.
After the initial public testimony by Kim Hak-sun, many other “comfort woman” victims were encouraged by the above testimony and started to speak out against the atrocities experienced by them, which brought the Japanese military’s “comfort women” issue into the spotlight in Korea and abroad as a human rights issue.
Civic organizations that have endeavored to date to resolve the “comfort women” issue agreed to designate and observe August 14 as the “International Memorial Day for Comfort Women” at the 11th Asian Solidarity Conference for the Resolution of the Issue of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan held in Taiwan in December 2012. Thereafter, international women’s and human rights organizations have dedicated their efforts to address the issue of “comfort women” by holding a variety of campaigns and solidarity rallies to facilitate the resolution of the issue on August 14 every year since 2013. As a result, legislative efforts have begun at the national level with the aim to restore the dignity and honor of “comfort women” victims and to recognize the “comfort women” issue in the context of women’s human rights.
In September 2017, the Gender Equality and Family Committee of the Korean National Assembly resolved to pass a bill to amend the Act on Livelihood Stability and Memorial Services, etc. for Sexual Slavery Victims for the Japanese Imperial Army in order to designate the Memorial Day for Japanese Military “Comfort Women” Victims. Following the passage of the bill in a plenary session of the National Assembly in December 2017, August 14 was finally designated as an official and legal national memorial day.
August 14, 2018 is the inaugural “Memorial Day” for comfort women to be commemorated by the Korean government after the aforementioned legislative amendment, and diverse commemorative and memorial events took place across the nation on the date.