Hope for Forgiveness

The Sorrow and Hope of “Comfort Women” Seminar and Exhibition:

Seminar and Exhibition:



Dates: November 25 (Tuesday), 2014 2:00 - 4:00 pm
followed by reception Exhibition continues through January 12, 2015

Venue: The May Gallery of Mullen Library,
                Catholic University of America 620 Michigan Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20064

Hosted by the National Catholic School of Social Service’s
Center for International Social Development (CISD)
Organized by the Washington Coalition for Comfort Women Issues, Inc. (WCCW) Sponsored by Korean Women's International Network, Washington DC (KOWIN)

Is "Comfort Women" the Right Term?

"Comfort women"- the controversial term refers to the approximately 200,000 women and girls who were forcefully recruited as factory workers or trafficked as prostitutes by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. Forced into servitude and exploited as sex slaves for years throughout Asia, these young women became the victims of the largest case of human trafficking in the 20th century. These women were primarily Korean, but also included Taiwanese, Chinese, Indonesian, East Timorese, Filipinos, and Dutch. After the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in July 1937, the Japanese army established the official brothels called ''comfort stations'' throughout the war zone and controlled their operation until Japan's defeat in August 1945. The trade of comfort women is a massive violation of human rights that has been left out of history until former comfort woman, Kim Hak-Soon, bravely stepped forward to testify about her experience to the public. Since then, an upsurge of public support for the comfort women, both in Korea and around the world, has ensued.

The title 'comfort women' has been denied by those victims residing in The House of Sharing, Korea, criticizing it as a crude objectification of the women's purpose as a tool forced upon them rather than a statement of their will as human beings. As Radhika Coomaraswamy, a special rappoteur for the Commission on Human Rights of the United Nations proposed, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton termed, "enforced military sex slaves" is a more accurate term to describe the victims. The women, however, simply want to be called 'halmonies', meaning grandmothers in Korean.

This seminar hopes to discuss and educate the public on the historical aspects, legacy, and current receptions of various disciplines and movements to resolve the concerns of these halmonies. Pope Francis met the victims during his visit to Korea last summer, and received a butterfly pin, symbolizing the victims' plight and their resolution to be arbiters of peace. The way in which a butterfly takes flight serves as a metaphor of the 'rite of passage' of the victimized women who desire to regain their dignity and freedom from discrimination, violence, and oppression by bettering themselves to overcome their past trauma and conflicts. The current exhibit showcases various categories of therapeutic art created during the recovery sessions of the victims and diverse works done by artists who have deeply sympathized with their pain and wounded subjects.
Curator Julie Jungsil Lee, Ph.D.

The Center for International Social Development (CISD) is an interdisciplinary program of research, teaching, service, and public education on the problems and prospects of international development at Catholic University. The center aims to promote international development in the interests of peace and justice, with respect for the totality of the human person.


Program of Seminar

Welcoming Remarks:
- Prof. Will C. Rainford,
Dean of National Catholic School of Social Service

Congratulatory Remarks:
- Ms. Christine Choi, President of WCCW

Seminar: Moderated by Prof. Frederick Ahearn
- Legacies of Military Comfort Women of WWII

Bonnie B.C. Oh, Ph.D. Distinguished Professor of Korean Studies (Ret.), Georgetown University

- Believing Women's Words

Ms. Mindy Kotler, Founder and director of Asia Policy Point

- Healing The Trauma of Sexual Slavery Through Art
Julie Jungsil Lee, Ph.D. Adjunct Professor, George Washington University

Closing Remarks:
- Dongwoo Lee Hahm,
Founding President and Chair of Board, WCCW


The Washington Coalition for Comfort Women Issues, Inc. (WCCW) was founded in December 1992 to promote research and education pertaining to crimes against military sex slaves during World War II. It is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization.

Executive Members of WCCW: Dongwoo Lee Hahm (Chair, board of directors); Moon Hyung Rhee (Co-chair, board of directors); Christine Choi (President); Julie Jungsil Lee (Vice president); Sami Lauri (Vice president); Helen Won (Executive Secretary); Adela Kim (Treasurer); Hye-Jun Joung (Treasurer); John Y.Lee (Advisor); Kyung Rhim Shin (Advisor); Christopher Simpson (Advisor); Ok Cha Soh (Advisor); Bonnie Oh (Advisor); Stephen Choi (Advisor); Sinyeon Kee (Legal Counsel)

Professor Frederick Ahearn, Moderator and Organizer

Currently an Ordinary Professor and Director of the Center for International Social Development in the School of Social Service at the Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, Dr. Ahearn has an international reputation in the area of psychosocial issues of forced migrants, particularly refugees and persons displaced by disasters. He served as Research Associate at the Refugee Studies Centre of Oxford University where he had been a regular faculty tutor during the summer session. Prof. Ahearn is the author and editor of Psychosocial wellness of refugees: Issues in qualitative and quantitative research. Oxford: Berghahn Press.In 2010, he was honored by Columbia University School of Social Work, his Alma Mater, for their Hall of Fame Award in recognition of his major contributions to international social work.

Bonnie Oh, Ph.D. is emeritus Distinguished Professor of Korean Studies at Georgetown University. She graduated from Seoul National University, and received B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University, M.A. from Georgetown University, and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. She published widely on Northeast Asia region in books, referred journals, and in encyclopedias. She serves on the boards of WCCW, Council on Korean Americans, Seoul National University Alumni Association, and the Korean Cultural Center of Chicago. Her childhood memoir, Phoenix in a Jade Bowl: Growing up Years in Korea, was published in 2013.
Mindy Kotler is founder and director of Asia Policy Point, a membership nonprofit research center in Washington, DC studying the US policy relationship with Japan and Northeast Asia. Her current research interest is the intersection of history and Asian regional security. She was part of a team that garnered an apology from the Japanese Government in 2009 to the American POWs of Japan. Recent projects include: identifying and analyzing the signatories of the November 2012 anti-Comfort Women ad in the New Jersey Star Ledger; providing a descriptive chart and analysis of the Abe Cabinet members; revealing the anti-Korea affiliation of “Nadeshiko” or Pink Action, the primary Japanese organization denying the Comfort Women history; and presenting a paper on the deconstruction of the Kono Statement.

Julie Jungsil Lee, Ph.D. is art historian, curator, and adjunct professor at George Washington University and director of ArTrio where she organizes art exhibition and develops educational program to inspire, empower, and connect artists and art patrons. She has served
as a vice president of WCCW for last five years and organized the seminar and exhibition of "Unveiling the Truth" at George Mason University in Dec. 2012, and contributed as one of committee members of Comfort Women Memorial Peace Garden, Fairfax, Virginia, May 2014. Her curatorial interest spans from Modernism, Christian art, Ritualized performance, Feminism, Art Therapy, to Contemporary interdisciplinary art projects and Installation art.

Chang-Jin Lee

Chang-Jin Lee, Comfort Women Wanted I & II, 2008. Archival Paper, 36 x 24 in. ( http://www.changjinlee.net)
B. YOOSOOJA Han

B. YOOSOOJA Han, Comfort Women Now, 2014, clay, 10 × 6 ×12 in.
B. YOOSOOJA Han, Comfort Women, 2014, Oil on canvas, 24 × 20 in. ( http://barbarahan.blogspot.com)

Junghwa Kim Paik
Junghwa Kim Paik, Thorn I, 2005, Brooch, silver, 3 x 4 x 1 in. Eileen Halpin

Eileen Halpin, Comfort Women, 2013, Digital Painting (Photoshop), 11 x 17 in. (www.eileenmarieart.com)
Steven Cavallo
Steven Cavallo, Comfort Women and Soldier I, 2012, watercolor, reproduction, 22 x 26 in.
Steven Cavallo, Lamentation, watercolor, 22 x30", 2012, watercolor, reproduction, 22 x 26 in. (http://www.stevecavallo.com)