April 30, 2016

"Comfort Women of the Empire" by Professor Park Yuha

"Comfort Women of the Empire" was written by Professor Park Yuha of Sejong University in South Korea. Please also refer to the New York Times article about this book: http://goo.gl/tKcbxg  The book was banned from publishing in South Korea. Professor Park is also being sued for defamation by anti-Japanese activist groups and receives death threats from time to time. In South Korea the government often uses civic groups to hunt down people who speak out the inconvenient truth. It is now very difficult for Professor Park to publish anything in South Korea without being persecuted, but her books can be purchased in other Asian countries.

Professor Park Yuha

I first confronted the comfort women issue in 1991. It was near the end of my study in Japan. As a volunteer I was translating former Korean comfort women's testimonies for NHK. When I returned to South Korea, the nationalism was out of control. The anti-Japanese activist group "Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery" (also known as Chong Dae Hyup 정대협 挺対協) was formed by the South Korean communists. Its leader said publicly it was determined to defame Japan for the next 200 years. Its propaganda turned me off, so I stayed away from this issue for years. I regained my interest in this issue in the early 2000s when I heard that Chong Dae Hyup was confining surviving women in a nursing home called House of Nanumu. The only time these women were allowed to talk to outsiders was when Chong Dae Hyup needed them to testify for the UN Special Rapporteur or the U.S. politicians. But for some reason I was allowed to talk to them one day in 2003. I could sense that women were not happy being confined in this place. One of the women (Bae Chun-hee) told me she reminisced the romance she had with a Japanese soldier. She said she hated her father who sold her. She also told me that women there didn't appreciate being coached by Chong Dae Hyup to give false testimonies but had to obey Chong Dae Hyup's order. When Japan offered compensation through Asian Women's Fund in 1995, 61 former Korean comfort women defied Chong Dae Hyup's order and accepted compensation. Those 61 women were vilified as traitors. Their names and addresses were published in newspapers as prostitutes, and they had to live the rest of their lives in disgrace. So the rest of the women were terrified of Chong Dae Hyup and wouldn't dare to defy again. Chong Dae Hyup (some of its members were arrested as North Korean spies) has used the comfort women issue for its political purpose, which is to drive a wedge into U.S.-Japan-South Korea security partnership.

Comfort stations

In wars, soldiers sometimes rape innocent women. To prevent this from happening, the Japanese military used existing brothels in Manchuria as comfort stations in the early 1930s. As it advanced into China and Southeast Asia, more comfort stations were needed. So the brothel operators recruited women and operated comfort stations in order to meet the increased demand. Japanese brothel operators recruited women in Japan. They owned and operated comfort stations employing Japanese women. Korean brothel operators recruited women in Korea. They owned and operated comfort stations employing Korean women. (See footnote *3, *4)

Two types of comfort women

There were two types of comfort women. (1) Japanese and Korean women (both Japanese citizens)  They constituted over 95% of comfort women. They were not coerced by the Japanese military. They were recruited by brothel operators. (2) Local women in the battlefields (Dutch women in Indonesia, Filipino women in the Philippines, etc.)  They constituted less than 5% of comfort women. Dozens of them were coerced by the Japanese soldiers in violation of Japanese military rules. The Japanese soldiers who coerced local women were tried and some executed.

These two types should have been identified differently. But when the comfort women became an issue in the early 1990s, all women who provided sex to the Japanese military were identified uniformly, and that created a big confusion.

The myth "Korean comfort women were coerced by the Japanese military"

The Korean woman who first claimed this in the early 1990s belonged to Chongsindae during the war. Chongsindae (also called Teishintai in Japanese) was a group of women conscripted by the Japanese military. They worked in factories to manufacture military equipment and uniforms. Since she was conscripted, she thought comfort women were also conscripted. It wasn't that she fabricated the story. It was an innocent mistake on her part. None of the initial testimonies of former Korean comfort women claimed they were coerced by the Japanese military. The majority of the Korean women were sold by their fathers to Korean comfort station owners. Some Korean women were deceived by Korean comfort station owners' agents. Other Korean women were in the world's oldest profession, and they did volunteer to earn good money.

The myth "There were 200,000 comfort women"

Two hundred thousand was the number of factory workers conscripted. About 150,000 of them were Japanese and 50,000 were Korean. Common misunderstanding in the West "There were 200,000 comfort women" arose because Asahi Shimbun mistook factory workers for comfort women in its August 11th, 1991 article, which inflated the number. The estimates of comfort women numbers vary from 5,000 to 10,000 depending on the historians.

The Japanese soldiers and Korean comfort women

Korean comfort women typically made about 750 yen a month plus tips. (A house in Korea cost 1000 yen at the time)  Some also sang at parties to earn generous tips. Women attended sports events, picnics and social dinners with both officers and men. They were also allowed to go shopping in towns. Romances between Korean comfort women and Japanese soldiers were common, and there were numerous instances of proposals of marriage and in certain cases marriages actually took place.

Korean comfort station owners

The Japanese military sent notices (See footnote *7) to comfort station operators prohibiting them to recruit women against their will. The Japanese comfort station operators followed the order and only recruited willing women in Japan, but the Korean operators didn't follow the order and recruited both willing prostitutes and unwilling women in Korea. If the Korean operators had followed the order, there wouldn't have been any comfort women issue.

Many of Korean comfort women's fathers had debts from alcohol, gambling, etc. and sold their daughters without daughters' consent. The Korean comfort station owners took over their debts, and depending on the amount of the debt, each woman's contract length was determined. Korean women were not allowed to leave until their debts were paid off. Any coercion, violence or confinement was exercised by the Korean owners. So if one wants to use the term "sex slaves" to describe former Korean comfort women, they were the sex slaves of Korean comfort station owners. They were not the sex slaves of the Japanese military. The Japanese military's involvement was limited to conducting sexually transmitted disease checkups and providing transportation to comfort station owners and comfort women. (Note: The Japanese government recognized its military's involvement, not coercion, in the 2015 agreement. http://goo.gl/pq5l2s)

A diary written by a Korean comfort station manager was discovered in 2013 (See footnote *3), and it makes it clear that Korean businessmen not only recruited Korean women but also owned and operated comfort stations. The diary contains the detailed account of Korean owners wire transferring huge profit they made from operating comfort stations. The common perception in the West that the Japanese military operated comfort stations is incorrect.

Japan-South Korea Treaty of 1965

During treaty negotiations, the Japanese government asked the South Korean government to identify and separate individual claims from the treaty because the Japanese government wanted to make sure the victims received compensation. The South Korean government declined and accepted the entire sum of 800 million dollars (over ten billion dollars in today's money) in place of its citizens and spent all of it on infrastructures. Therefore it is not reasonable for the South Korean government to keep asking for additional compensation from Japan.

Kono Statement in 1993

Kono Statement acknowledged that some Korean comfort women were coerced. But it did not acknowledge that the Japanese military coerced them. Some may ask why it was necessary for the Japanese government to apologize via Kono Statement if Korean women were coerced by the Korean operators. Well, the Japanese military's invasion into China and Southeast Asia did create the demand for comfort women. So Japan bears part of the responsibility for women's suffering although its military did not coerce Korean women nor operate comfort stations.

Asian Women's Fund

Asian Women's Fund was established by the Japanese government in 1995. (Compensation came with a personal letter of apology from Prime Minister of Japan)  As for Korean women, although they were not coerced by the Japanese military and all individual claims were settled in the 1965 Japan-South Korea Treaty, the Japanese government still offered Asian Women's Fund to Korean women as a good gesture. Ironically every nation involved except South Korea accepted compensation through Asian Women's Fund and reconciled with Japan.  (Note: The South Korean government and Korean women wanted to accept Asian Women's Fund as well, but the anti-Japanese activist group Chong Dae Hyup threatened Korean women not to accept Japan's apology and compensation so that it could continue its anti-Japanese propaganda campaign. So most Korean women could not accept Japan's apology and compensation.)

Why has it been so difficult to resolve this issue only with South Korea?

Chong Dae Hyup (정대협 挺対協) opposed Asian Women's Fund claiming it wasn't the legal apology and compensation. But considering all individual claims were settled in the 1965 Japan-South Korea Treaty, Asian Women's Fund was the best the Japanese government could do. Chong Dae Hyup has had a very close relationship with North Korea. Its members including the leader's husband were arrested as North Korean spies. The real reason Chong Dae Hyup opposed Asian Women's Fund was because it wanted to use the comfort women issue to block reconciliation between Japan and South Korea. Chong Dae Hyup has hosted Wednesday protests every week in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul since 1992.

The relationship between the anti-Japanese activist group Chong Dae Hyup (Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery) and North Korea:

Yun Mi-Hyang (Chairwoman) was investigated for working with North Korea in 2013.
Kim Sam-Suk (Yun Mi-Hyang's husband) was arrested as a North Korean spy in 1993.
Kim Eun-Ju (Kim Sam-Suk's sister) was arrested as a North Korean spy in 1993.
Choi Gi-Yong (Kim Eun-Ju's husband) was arrested as a North Korean spy in 2006.
Lee Seok-Gi (member) was arrested as a North Korean spy in 2013.

World's view

Instead of reconciling with Japan by accepting Japan's apology and compensation, Chong Dae Hyup and its U.S. affiliates have appealed to the world by dragging former Korean comfort women (now in their 90's) around the world as exhibitions. UN reports such as Coomaraswamy Report and U.S. House Resolution 121 were issued based solely on materials provided by the activists with close ties to North Korea. (False testimonies of women who were coached by Chong Dae Hyup. Reference)  Most Western media and scholars fell for activists' propaganda and believe "200,000 Korean women were coercively taken away by the Japanese military." Obviously this world's view is not based on fact. The Japanese soldiers did coerce dozens of Dutch and Filipino women in the battlefields of Indonesia and the Philippines. But the Korean women were not coerced by the Japanese military because the Korean Peninsula was not the battlefield and therefore very few Japanese soldiers were left in Korea and the majority of policemen were Korean. Japan apologized and compensated, and Netherlands, Indonesia and the Philippines had all accepted Japan's apology and reconciled with Japan. So there are no comfort women issues between those nations and Japan. The comfort women issue remains only with South Korea because Chong Dae Hyup refuses to reconcile with Japan and continues to spread the false claim -- 200,000 Korean women were coerced by the Japanese military -- throughout the world. Chong Dae Hyup is a very powerful activist group in South Korea, and Korean politicians are scared to death to defy it. But South Korean government must somehow distance itself from Chong Dae Hyup if this issue is to be resolved. After all, Chong Dae Hyup has no interest in the welfare of former Korean comfort women. Its goal is to discredit Japan and to block reconciliation between Japan and South Korea.

Empires and comfort women

Just like the empires were created by European powers and Japan in the past, the United States has military bases all over the world. And wherever the U.S. military bases are located, there are women who provide sex to the U.S. military personnels. There is no doubt that the U.S. military interventions in Vietnam, Iraq and so on had caused suffering to local people especially to women. It is rather ironic that the United States House of Representatives passed a resolution to criticize Japan and comfort women statues keep going up in the U.S.  Japan was partly guilty because its imperialism (the Japanese military's invasion into China and Southeast Asia) created the demand for comfort women. But the Korean narrative -- the Japanese military showed up at the doors and abducted young Korean women -- just didn't happen. The Korean brothel operators capitalized on the demand, recruited Korean women, operated comfort stations and made lots of money. Japan has apologized for its part. South Korea should admit its complicity and stop demanding Japan for more apologies.

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(*1) The following is a momoir written by a former Korean comfort woman, Mun Oku-chu. It shows what it was like to be a comfort woman.


(*2) The U.S. military interrogated hundreds of Korean POWs that belonged to the Japanese Army. They frequented comfort stations, and the following was what they said about Korean comfort women.

"All Korean prostitutes that POWs have seen in the Pacific were volunteers or had been sold by their parents into prostitution. This is proper in the Korean way of thinking, but direct conscription of women by the Japanese would be an outrage that the old and young alike would not tolerate. Men would rise up in a rage, killing Japanese no matter what consequence they might suffer."

The following is the U.S. military report dated October 1, 1944. This report is accurate except where it says "Japanese agents recruited women and Japanese housemasters operated comfort stations." It should have said "ethnic Korean agents recruited Korean women and Korean housemasters operated comfort stations." The U.S. military interrogator thought they were Japanese because their surnames were Japanese. Actually the ethnic Koreans were Japanese citizens at the time, so the report might have referred to them as "Japanese agents" and "Japanese housemasters" for that reason. (See the list of comfort stations in footnote *3)


(*3) In 2013 Professor Ahn Byong Jik of Seoul National University discovered a diary written by a Korean comfort station manager. The diary contains accounts of Korean owners wire transferring profit they made from operating comfort stations. The diary also mentions that whenever comfort stations needed more women, Korean owners used their agents to recruit women. Professor Ahn Byong Jik confirms that Korean comfort women were recruited by Korean comfort station owners, not by the Japanese military.


You can purchase the diary at the following.


The following is the summary of the diary in English by Professor Choe Kilsung.

The following is the list of comfort stations mentioned in the diary. The owners were all Korean although they had Japanese surnames. (click to enlarge)

 The following is the list of comfort stations in Shanghai where Korean women worked. The owners were all Korean as well.

(*4) The photo below is a recruitment ad in Korean newspaper Maeil Sinbo (매일신보 毎日新報) on October 27, 1944 by a Korean comfort station owner. There are more ads like this.

(*5) The photo below is a record of how much a typical Korean comfort woman made.

(*6) The photo below is a report in Korean newspaper Donga Ilbo (동아일보 東亜日報) on August 31, 1939. It says, "About 100 Korean women were abducted by Korean comfort station owners' agents but were rescued by Japanese policemen." There are dozens of reports like this. (other reports)

(*7) The photo below is an order sent by the Japanese military to comfort station operators. It says, "Do not recruit women against their will. Only recruit willing prostitutes." Professor Yoshiaki Yoshimi (a well known communist and with close ties to North Korea) misrepresented this document as proof that the Japanese military coerced Korean women. Confronted by other scholars, Mr. Yoshimi admitted to the Japanese media that he was wrong, but he never did so to Western media. The New York Times in its 2007 article used his initial statement as proof that the Japanese military coerced Korean women. Many scholars have demanded NYT to retract the article, but NYT has refused to do so claiming it wasn't their fault Yoshimi misrepresented.

(*8) The photo below is an article in Korean newspaper Kyunghyang Shinmun (경향신문 京郷新聞) on June 6, 1977. It says that a Korean comfort station owner trafficked dozens of Korean comfort women to Rabaul, Papua New Guinea to provide sex to Japanese soldiers there during World War II. It was common knowledge in South Korea until the 1970s that Korean comfort station owners recruited Korean women and operated comfort stations, and no South Koreans contested that notion. Then Asahi Shimbun (Japanese newspaper) published a series of fabricated articles in the 1980's falsely accusing Japanese military of abducting Korean comfort women. South Korean communists with close ties to North Korea thought this was a great opportunity to discredit Japan and block reconciliation between Japan and South Korea. So they formed the anti-Japan lobby Chong Dae Hyup in 1990 and began spreading comfort women lies worldwide. Their strategy was to use the case of a small number of Dutch and Filipino women who were coerced by lower ranked Japanese soldiers and make it look like the same thing happened to tens of thousands of Korean women. Since they had no evidence, they coached Korean women to testify falsely.

(*9) The relationship between the anti-Japanese activist group Chong Dae Hyup (Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery) and North Korea.

Yun Mi-Hyang (Chairwoman) was investigated for working with North Korea in 2013.
Kim Sam-Suk (Yun Mi-Hyang's husband) was arrested as a North Korean spy in 1993.
Kim Eun-Ju (Kim Sam-Suk's sister) was arrested as a North Korean spy in 1993.
Choi Gi-Yong (Kim Eun-Ju's husband) was arrested as a North Korean spy in 2006.
Lee Seok-Gi (member) was arrested as a North Korean spy in 2013.

(*10) The South Korean government established comfort women system for its troops in Vietnam in the 1960s and for the U.S. troops stationed in South Korea in the 1960s & 1970s.



A number of comfort women statues have been built in the U.S. as a result of tenacious lobbying by the Korean activists. The activists insist that the statues are for all women whose rights were violated in wars and not meant to be anti-Japanese. However, the statues only accuse the Japanese military and do not mention the South Korean military's atrocities to women.

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Asahi Shimbun published a series of fabricated articles on comfort women in the 1980s. Based on these articles, the anti-Japanese activist group Chong Dae Hyup was formed by South Korean communists in 1990. Then out of nowhere a woman named Kim Hak-sun came forward in 1991 and claimed she was abducted by the Japanese military. There is clear evidence (recorded tapes) that suggests she was coached by Chong Dae Hyup to give false testimony. If Korean women were indeed abducted by the Japanese military, it is rather odd that not a single woman claimed anything for over 45 years after the end of World War II.  Former South Korean President Roh Tae-woo said in a 1993 interview, "Asahi Shimbun created the comfort women issue out of nothing, provoked Korean nationalism and infuriated Korean people."

It is ironic that 99% of Westerners fell for Chong Dae Hyup's (North Korean) propaganda and believe 200,000 Korean women were coerced by the Japanese military while South Korean scholars such as Professor Park Yuha of Sejong University, Professor Lee Yong-hoon of Seoul University, Professor Ahn Byong-jik of Seoul University, Professor Jun Bong-gwan of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Professor Lee Dae-gun of Sungkyunkwan University, Professor Choi Ki-ho of Kaya University, Professor Oh Seon-hwa of Takushoku University and Professor Chunghee Sarah Soh of San Francisco State University agree that the Japanese military did not coerce Korean women. Only a small number of fanatics with loud voice (South Korean activists with close ties to North Korea and China) falsely claim 200,000 Korean women were coerced by the Japanese military. Westerners must realize that North Korean and Chinese operatives are using the comfort women issue to drive a wedge into U.S.-Japan-South Korea security partnership.


  1. Very balanced view. Her courage to publish this in the country where a mere hint of pro-Japanese attitude is likely to be a target of wholesale verbal (and sometimes even physical) attack is worth admiring.

  2. obat wasir
    After I read the information from this forum that you provide the information relevant and important to be learned thanks a lot

  3. That's actually been too much informative, was looking to find the best place for translation.

  4. Excellent piece. I'm glad people can still see the facts with cool heads and attempt to push the message beyond a line of speech that has been distorting the truth. Thank you very much for the very informative read.

  5. Thank you so very mcu for your great blog and efforts

  6. Thank you so much for having the courage to stand against the people who try to spread lies about facts they think are too old to be verified. Please don't give up. I know you must have been threatened and slandered, I know you certainly are risking a lot of things as you fight to protect the truth. But please don't give up.

  7. Incredibly insightful. History is often written by those victorious in battle, and the case Professor Park makes is clearly derivative of that and how world political machinations contribute to regional conflicts.

  8. Thank you for your hard work doing this translation. I hope that Professor Park will have the entire book translated into English and available in the US and UK. You have done a great service

  9. Thank you for translating Prof. Yuha Park's work in English and making it available here. It's sad that US scholars like Alexis Dudden and Margaret D. Stetz continue to ignore Korean and Japanese scholars' serious work, calling it revisionist, and continue to believe in the North Korean propaganda naively. If they had studied what Japanese rule of Korea was like, they wouldn't have believed in the sex slavery myth. Their ignorance and hubris know no bounds.

  10. It is indeed ironic that Japan is accused of slavery when the institution of slavery was abolished under Japanese rule of Korea (1910-1945). During this period of annexation Japan faced the threat of Soviet communism and needed to quickly modernize Korea for Japan's own security, and thus heavily invested in building infrastructure, industries, agricultural innovations, modern medicine, system of education and governance including the judiciary. Approximately 80% of the police force was native Koreans. There was no reason or incentive for Japan to violate Korean people many of whom volunteered to fight for Japan.

  11. Brilliant blog, and thank you for providing all this information. I'm tired of seeing the defamation of certain cultures/countries when such defamation is advantageous to the global powers that be, while the crimes of countries that came out victorious from WWII are never accounted for. The Armenian genocide issue by Turks is a similar matter. Meanwhile who will account for the booming child sex trade in Cambodia initiated by UN soldiers and perpetuated by American and European sex tourism?

  12. On Aug 30, 2016, the first public hearing was held for her criminal trial as she was indicted on the charge of defamation against the former comfort women.

    I read the book “The Comfort Women of the Empire.” While I do not agree with all of the pages of the book, I consider that her work should be respected and no such defamation charge should be placed upon her.

    It is quite natural that there was some sort of comradeship between the soldiers and comfort women. They lived near the front-line and all of them were in their 20s. Lee Yong-soo, an activist former comfort woman, once confessed that a Japanese Kamikaze pilot was her first love. There were many cases of marriage proposal from the soldiers.

    Is it the Inquisition or some sort of a witch trial in the 21st century? S. Korea is so influenced by anti-Japan religious cult that it seems the society fell into the state of insanity. There seems be no academic freedom.

    False Accusations of Comfort Women

    1. Laughing salesman, I'm assuming you are the owner of the above site Moguro Fukuzo. Sorry if I'm wrong. I think the Taniyama video that you recommend on your site is doing more harm than good in getting our message across to the English speaking audience. It is quite mindless to equate the Japanese internment during WWII to the US public's general ignorance of the truth on the comfort woman issue. Who would want to listen to what we have to say after that tirade? I hope you remove that video from you list.

  13. Korea insists 200,000 Korean women were kidnapped and raped. According to Korea, almost all sex slaves were killed or committed suicide soon after the end of the war. The number of victims were far more than that of the nuclear bomb in Hiroshima. However, Korea can not find even one article in newspapers in those days or soon after the war on this massacre. The population pyramid does not show the sign too.
    An old soldier Yoshida Seiji published “My war crime” in Japan in 1983. The book says “I kidnapped 200 women and raped in Cheju island in Korea.” Japanese Newspaper Asahi interviewed him and reported on the book many times. Korean media gave promonent coverage of it. The book also published in Korea in 1989 and was dramatized for TV in 1991. The audience ratings were quite high. A old woman came forward to sue Japanese government for money, she is the first prostitute in public. Supporting group was formed, the representaive of the group who arrested on fraud was mother-in-law of the Asahi reporter, Takashi Uemura.
    Korean local Newspaper, The Cheju verified the book in Cheju island and reported there was no woman that was kidnapped and raped by the Japanese army. The newspaper criticized Yoshida as “shameful businessman.” Yoshida said “ All book is biased by its author.” In the end, he conceded the book was a fiction before his death. But Korean Newspaper, the Chosun Ilbo that is the major newspapers in South Korea said in 5 Sep 2012 that “Only this book is enough to verify that Japanese army kidnapped women and raped.” Though in 2014 The Asahi canceled 18 articles and 495 columns for 14 years from 1980. Lies about Japan are not corrected in Korea.

  14. Excellent article! We will be linking to this great article on our
    site. Keep up the good writing.