The Apology follows the personal journeys of three former “comfort women” who were among the 200,000 girls and young women kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.
Some 70 years after their imprisonment in so-called “comfort stations”, the three “grandmothers” – Grandma Gil in South Korea, Grandma Cao in China, and Grandma Adela in the Philippines – face their twilight years and fading health.
After decades of living in silence and shame about their past, they know that time is running out to give a first-hand account of the truth and ensure that this horrific chapter of history is not forgotten.
Gil Won-ok, or “Grandma Gil”, as she is affectionately known among a well-established network of activists, has been attending weekly demonstrations in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul for years.
Despite her age and declining health, she remains a key spokesperson in the movement for an official apology from the Japanese government.
Her exhausting travels eventually take her to the hallowed halls of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to deliver a petition with over a million signatures on behalf of her fellow survivors.
|Women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II continue to demand an official apology [Tiffany Hsiung]|
Grandma Cao lives in a remote village surrounded by mountains in rural China, where what happened to hundreds of local girls after they were kidnapped has long been an open secret among the old-timers.
Fiercely independent, Grandma Cao insists on living alone despite the protests of her loyal daughter, who has been unaware of her mother’s story. It is only when a historian requests an account of her experiences that Grandma Cao agrees to break decades of stoic silence about her painful past.
In Roxas City, Grandma Adela manages to find solace, camaraderie and a sense of freedom as part of a support group for other survivors. Though she found love after the war, she carefully hid the truth about her past from her husband.
Now widowed, she is wracked with guilt for not sharing her secret. She resolves to tell her children but is still unsure whether unburdening herself after all these years will make up for withholding the truth from the love of her life.
Whether they are seeking a formal apology from the Japanese government or summoning the courage to finally share their secret with loved ones, their resolve moves them forward as they seize this last chance to set future generations on a course for reconciliation, healing, and justice.
Source: Al Jazeera