comfort

“Comfort Women” – A Twisted Euphemism

 

CEO Message

“Comfort Women” – A Twisted Euphemism
LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX: Nora Okja Keller

Honolulu’s Nora Okja Keller, author of the acclaimed novel Comfort Woman

 

Leslie Wilcox, PBS Hawai‘i President and CEOI remember exactly what I said some three decades ago to a Honolulu news colleague, when we first heard the expression “comfort women” and learned what it meant.

 

“How twisted is that?” I said. “A truly deceptive term to hide horrendous brutality against the powerless.”

 

Of course, that’s what euphemisms do. They mask unpleasantness; they blunt the horror.

 

This euphemism refers to young women of little means, mostly teenagers, forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Sino-Japanese War and World War II. In filthy conditions, they were required to sexually service 20, 30, sometimes 50 Japanese soldiers a day.

 

They endured beatings, infection, disease and abortions. Most died.

 

At the end of World War II, survivors felt so much shame that many didn’t go home. They sought new lives and didn’t speak of their ordeal. One former captive was Keum-Ju Hwang, of South Korea, who finally resolved to tell her story before she died. She spoke in 1993 at a University of Hawai‘i symposium – and Honolulu resident Nora Okja Keller was in that audience.

 

Keller, born in Seoul and of half Korean ancestry, felt a “burden of history” and embarked on a journey of research and writing. The result was a critically acclaimed first novel, Comfort Woman. She recalled that before she heard Ms. Hwang’s account, she was only aware of scenes in Korean soap operas: “There’d be this mysterious woman, veiled in black, going through the background. And the reference would be, ‘Oh…do you see that woman? Something bad happened to her during the war.’”

 

PBS Hawai‘i will air an encore of my 2008 Long Story Short conversation with Nora Okja Keller on Tuesday, October 16, the week before our October 22 premiere of a POV film, The Apology, which follows three survivors – from China, the Philippines and South Korea. (See interview with the filmmaker on pages 4-5 of our October Program Guide.)

 

Keller’s inspiration, Ms. Hwang, died in 2013, knowing she had done her part to let the world understand her soul-scarring but freeing truth.

Aloha nui,

Leslie signature


 

 

A CHEF’S LIFE
Prolific Peppers

 

Vivian preps peppers for a trip to Lambstock, where chefs, food and music converge. Holley’s grandmother offers a lesson in stuffing peppers and delegating authority.

 

 

A CHEF’S LIFE
Two-Mato

A CHEFʻS LIFE: Two-Mato

 

In the fifth season of this award-winning series, Vivian hits the road in a food truck to support her first cookbook, a 500-page “culinary love letter.”

 

Two-Mato
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A CHEF’S LIFE
Have Yourself Some Moonshine

 

Vivian visits Broad Slab Distillery where they talk about the art and soul of white lightning. The restaurant’s mixologist works moonshine into several new drinks while the restaurant staff struggle through the holiday party season. They end the season with a party of their own at Ben and Vivian’s new house with AppleJack Moonshine Cocktails making a guest appearance.

 

A CHEF’S LIFE
The Buttermilk Belt

 

Vivian and Ben go to Maple View Dairy to pick up product for the restaurant. They talk buttermilk with the dairy’s manager; later Vivian’s nieces and nephews try to make buttermilk with their great-grandmother’s butter churn.

 

Easy Yoga: The Secret to Strength and Balance with Peggy Cappy

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NOVA
Ultimate Cruise Ship

 

Weighing 54,000 gross tons and stretching over two football fields, the Seven Seas Explorer is no ordinary boat. NOVA follows a pioneering team of ship builders as they embark on what is advertised to be a milestone in maritime engineering.

 

A Royal Connection

Leslie Wilcox, President and CEO of PBS HawaiiBritain’s Queen Victoria, ruler of the most powerful nation in the world in her time, and Queen Emma of Hawai‘i, ali‘i of the most isolated archipelago, formed a friendship that bridged the long distance and the 17-year difference in their ages.

 

It was a friendship born of grief.

 

In the Hawaiian Journal of History, researcher Rhoda E.A. Hackler wrote about the queens’ 20-year, off-and-on correspondence.

 

Queen Victoria lost her husband and the father of their nine children when Prince-Consort Albert was just 42. The following year, the four-year-old son of Queen Emma and her husband, King Kamehameha IV (Alexander Liholiho), died of what was then described as “brain fever.” The child was named Albert, after Victoria’s husband.

 

Queen Victoria, still deeply mourning her husband’s death, reached out to Emma:

 

“As a mother you will understand how fully I am able to appreciate the depth of your grief…As a wife, I can sincerely hope that you may be spared the heavier blow which has plunged me into lifelong sorrow, but which makes my heart tenderly alive to all the sorrows of others.”

 

A year later, Emma wrote to Victoria:

 

“My heart is very, very heavy while I make known to Your Majesty that God has visited with me with that great trouble which in your kind and consoling letter you said you hoped I might be spared. On the 30th of November my Husband, of whose danger I had never entertained one thought, expired suddenly, almost while in the act of speaking to me, and it was a long while before they could make me believe that what I saw was death and that he had really left me alone for the remainder of my life.”

 

Victoria’s reply came quickly:

 

“…My bleeding heart can truly sympathize with you in your terrible desolation! A dear & promising only child & a beloved husband have both been taken from you within two years! Time does not heal the really stricken heart!..”

 

Two years after the death of Queen Emma’s husband, she traveled to England, raised money for the construction of the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Honolulu, and met Queen Victoria.

 

Victoria penned in her journal:

 

“Nothing could be nicer or more dignified than her manner…She was dressed in just the same widow’s weeds as I wear.”

 

Later in Emma’s trip, she was accorded the honor of being asked to spend the night at Windsor Castle.

 

Over the years, the queens shared personal news, much of it sad. Victoria lost a grandchild to diphtheria; Emma noted that typhoid fever was ravaging the Islands, killing “the young and the strong.”

 

Always, in this correspondence between royal “dear friends,” there is a sense of gratitude in being able to express profound loss and in being heard and understood.

 

Aloha a hui hou,
Leslie signature

 

A CHEF’S LIFE
Apples

 

A Chef’s Life is a cooking and documentary series that takes viewers inside the life of Chef Vivian Howard, who, with her husband Ben Knight, opens a fine dining restaurant in her small hometown in Eastern North Carolina. Each episode follows Vivian out of the kitchen and into cornfields, strawberry patches and hog farms as she hunts down the ingredients that inspire her menus. Using a chef’s modern sensibilities, Vivian explores Southern cuisine, past and present – one ingredient at a time. A celebration of true farm-to-table food, the series combines the action and drama of a high-pressure business with the joys and stresses of family life.

 

Apples
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