[NOTE: This article is in conjunction with and a companion piece to the below podcast. Note that these regular podcasts can also be found on Spreaker and iTunes]
I’ll keep this short but for both those who are aware of this film’s subject matter and, of course, those who are not, this documentary is a very important one.
It’s important for issues of human rights, women’s rights, physical abuse and so much more. I’m talking of forced sexual-slavery by the Japanese government and army during World War II, from which it’s estimated that around 200,000 women were affected, and from different parts of Asia – it is stated that the majority were Korean, incidentally. It is also a film and subject matter very important to me.
You see… Ever since embarking on my research and indeed travels to South Korea, this often ‘hidden’ beneath the news issue keeps bringing me back to Korea’s history and pain, as well as the hurt to other women of Asia.
Those familiar with my videos (YouTube; Vimeo) may have seen the conference with ‘comfort women’ activists, an interview with them, my friend/accomplice & I’s interruption at BAN Ki-Moon’s recent visit to London, my involvement in a London musical surrounding this subject – way back in 2012 – and, for those interested these videos can be found at the foot of this posting. However, even off YouTube, this website etc I have been involved with the odd seminar and protest in London, AND my almost regular visits or revisits to the ‘comfort woman’ statue in Seoul, opposite the Japanese Embassy – plus, as a result, you could say, even filming & chatting to the activists and [now elderly] victims on one of the Wednesday protests or demonstrations there.
Regarding the latter, it’s a very committed bunch who congregate opposite that Embassy every Wednesday and who have done so for many, many years… including victims of these crimes – yes, crimes – whom are very elderly but nonetheless ever so committed and determined too.
Why do they go there? For the recognition of these crimes, which took part in the Second World War? Well, they want ‘The Apology’ which they are due, or moreover, overdue. Not any kind of compensation, monetary payout but just a simple (& surely heartfelt) “sorry” from Japanese officials.
Now, it’s not just me who has been documenting and protesting & filming such related events but also the lovely Tiffany Hsiung. You can read a little about this filmmaker further down in this article.
I actually met Tiffany at the Busan International Film Festival 2016, yes under 6 months ago, and hung out & most importantly of all learned quite a bit about the film, how it happened, how long it took and such similar information. This was simply via chit-chat, a Q & A and other encounters. I couldn’t think of a more talented individual to have taken this mammoth filmmaking task on. In fact, I almost interviewed Ms Hsiung but that now will come at a later date.
So… I said I’d keep this short and I’m a man of my word, therefore it’s straight into the information about this film, “THE APOLOGY”, and its forthcoming UK PREMIERE (as part of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival).
The following 2 main paragraphs are taken from that Film Festival’s website, https://ff.hrw.org/film/apology-0 :
“Grandma Gil in South Korea, Grandma Cao in China, and Grandma Adela in the Philippines were amongst thousands of girls and young women who were sexually exploited by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II, many through kidnapping, coercion and sexual slavery. Some 70 years after their imprisonment, and after decades living in silence and shame about their past, the wounds are still fresh for these three former ‘comfort women’. Despite multiple formal apologies from the Japanese government issued since the early 1990’s, there has been little justice; the courageous resolve of these women moves them to fight and seize their last chance to share first-hand accounts of the truth with their families and the world, and to ensure that this horrific chapter of history is neither repeated nor forgotten.”
Filmmaker(s): Tiffany Hsiung
Duration: 104 minutes
Language(s): Bisaya, Mandarin, English, Japanese, Korean
“Tiffany Hsiung is an award-winning filmmaker based in Toronto. Her approach to storytelling is driven by the relationships she builds with people. Since 2009, Hsiung has been documenting the lives of survivors of military sexual slavery during World War II, inflicted by the Japanese Imperial Army, for her first feature-length film, The Apology (2015). For the past six years, Hsiung has been advocating in communities and universities across North America for the grandmothers (survivors known as “comfort women”), as they fight for justice, by sharing their stories. Her most recent presentation at the United Nations in New York brought to light one of history’s greatest and unresolved injustices on the world stage for human-rights issues.”
“The Apology follows the personal journeys of three former “comfort women” who were among the 200,000 girls and young women kidnapped and forced into military sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. Some 70 years after their imprisonment in so-called “comfort stations,” the three “grandmothers”– Grandma Gil in South Korea, Grandma Cao in China, and Grandma Adela in the Philippines – face their twilight years in fading health. After decades of living in silence and shame about their past, they know that time is running out to give a first-hand account of the truth and ensure that this horrific chapter of history is not forgotten. Whether they are seeking a formal apology from the Japanese government or summoning the courage to finally share their secret with loved ones, their resolve moves them forward as they seize this last chance to set future generations on a course for reconciliation, healing, and justice.”
This couldn’t come at a more timely moment, as we recently had International Women’s Day and then the Million Woman March, the latter focusing on violence against women.