Lee Yong Su

Lee Yong Su is a halmeoni, or “grandmother”, a name Koreans use for the women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese during the Second World War.  The Japanese military developed the term “comfort women” to describe these women who were coerced into this terrible existence.  Ms. Lee was kidnapped at the age of 13, along with so many other Korean women and girls, and she was taken a battlefield “comfort station”, where she was brutalized and raped repeatedly by Japanese soldiers.  The older girls and women tried to protect her, but they were unable to save her from this fate.  She remembered the torture she experienced when she at first tried to hold off the soldiers, and she recalled the one soldier who took pity on her, and managed to save her life.  With the war’s end, many of these women were simply abandoned by the Japanese, and they often had to walk hundreds of miles to their homes and families, dealing with the physical and emotional trauma of their wartime slavery.  Ms. Lee spoke to participants on the Alpha Education Peace and Reconciliation Tour in July 2017, with the hope that her story carries a message of social justice to future generations.  Translation was facilitated by Ms. Kim Hyoun Sook of Korealinx.

In July 2017 Crestwood teacher Scott Masters took part in Alpha Education’s Peace and Reconciliation Tour.  Seventeen educators, activists, lawyers, and documentarians toured China and Korea, learning about the Asian perspective on the Second World War, and exploring ways to raise awareness of this side of the war to a non-Asian audience.  The tour was organized by Don Tow, as part of his ongoing efforts to stimulate social justice education and to improve Asian-American understanding and relationships.

Please note that this interview is in Korean, with the English translation at the end of each segment.