A good friend directed me to this website. It is called the House of Sharing and it is a home/museum for former Korean “comfort women” from the Japanese War/World War II.

I hesitate to refer to it solely as World War II because the time frames are much different. In the West, we associate the War with the fixed dates of 1939-1945, beginning with the German invasion of Poland. Any Asian that lived through the ordeal would claim that Japan had been running riot from well before that, perhaps as early as their overtures towards Manchuria in 1927.

Korea had been swept in to the Japanese world well before even that, but their practice of sexual slavery dates closer to the years traditionally associated with WWII. The active forced sexual slavery began to ramp up in earnest following the Japanese invasion of mainland China in the 1930s.

The vast majority of these comfort women were from Korea. They were generally recruited to work in factories. And then were shuffled off to makeshift brothels at the front, wherever that happened to be.

Dottie Horn states that “a majority of the women who provided sex for Japanese soldiers were forcibly taken from their families, or were recruited deceptively. Sometimes family members were beaten or killed if they tried to rescue the women, most in their teens. Once the women arrived at the comfort station, they were forced to have sex, typically with 20 to 30 men a day. If they resisted, they were beaten or killed.

A majority of the 80,000 to 200,000 comfort women were from Korea, though others were recruited or kidnapped from China, the Phillipines, Burma, and Indonesia. Some Japanese women who worked as prostitutes before the war also became comfort women.”

Awful chapter of history. These women returned to their homes and were forced to keep the ordeal quiet for a long time. It wasn’t until the late 1980s that the issue started receiving some attention. Former comfort women organized and began demanding a Japanese apology. The Japanese government claimed that these women had been volunteers and that nobody was forced to work there. Back and forth, back and forth.

In comes the House of Sharing. According to their website, “The House of Sharing is the world’s first human rights museum with the theme of sexual slavery. The museum opened on August 14th, 1998 to record these Japanese war crimes, to restore the honor of the victims and to function as a place of historical education. Daedong Construction Inc. donated the buildings of the House of Sharing and citizens and organizations in Korea and Japan privately funded the museum.”

These truly brave women have seven demands:
* Admit the drafting of the Japanese military “comfort women”!
* Apologize officially!
* Reveal the truth about the crime!
* Erect memorial tablets for the victims!
* Pay restitution to the victims or their families!
* Teach the truth about this so you do not repeat the same crimes!
* Punish the war criminals!

Please stop by and take a look at the artwork these women have created. Read the history and learn their stories. Even join the Facebook group if you want.


By Michael Gallagher

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.