reconcile

“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


 

 

INSIGHTS ON PBS HAWAI‘I
Domestic Violence: Living in Fear

 

A national ranking of support services offered to domestic violence victims has Hawai‘i among the states at the bottom of the list. INSIGHTS examines the numbers and sheds light on domestic violence in the Islands with this live discussion.

 

Your questions and comments are welcome via phone, email and online via Facebook and Twitter during the Live Broadcast.

 

Phone Lines:
462-5000 on Oahu or 800-238-4847 on the Neighbor Islands.

 

Email:
insights@pbshawaii.org

 

Facebook:
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Twitter:
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INSIGHTS ON PBS HAWAI‘I
Have We Changed?

 

The 2016 Presidential Election will be remembered for many things. The ongoing rancor that drove the energy of this election may be a force that’s here to stay.

 

What about us? Has the meanness movement reach our shores? Locally, issues like rail, homelessness and GMOs have created disagreement and division among Hawai‘i people. Real tension among families and friends. Dissent between island communities.

 

Our own political campaigns have become meaner and increasingly negative. Voter apathy is attributed to a loss of confidence and trust in our leadership and the political process.

 

Have we changed?

 

Your questions and comments are welcome via phone, email and via Twitter during the Live Broadcast.

 

Phone Lines:
462-5000 on Oahu or 800-238-4847 on the Neighbor Islands.

 

Email:
insights@pbshawaii.org

 

Twitter:
Join our live discussion using #pbsinsights

 


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From the director of the Oscar-nominated Winter’s Bone comes this portrait of a motorcycle-riding Vietnam veteran. There’s more to Ronnie “Stray Dog” Hall than meets the eye; behind the tattoos and leather vest is a man dedicated to helping his fellow vets and immigrant family as he comes to terms with his combat experience. experience.

 

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE
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Drawing heavily on historian and Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust’s acclaimed book This Republic of Suffering, this film explores a critical but largely overlooked aspect of the Civil War experience: the immense and varied implications of the war’s staggering and unprecedented death toll. The war created a veritable “republic of suffering,” as landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted described the wounded and dying arriving at Union hospital ships on the Virginia Peninsula. The shattering Civil War death toll transformed hundreds of thousands of individual lives and the life of the nation as well. From its understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship to the profound struggle of a deeply religious culture, America struggled to reconcile these events with a belief in a benevolent God.

 

Iwo Jima:
From Combat to Comrades

 

Follow survivors of one of the fiercest battles of WWII in this powerful and moving story of the American and Japanese servicemen who came together 70 years later for a historic reunion in March 2015. This island battlefield is the only former combat zone in the world that sees men who once were enemies return as friends in a ceremony of peace and remembrance.