I’m glad the exhibit was reopened. I would love to go and see it.
‘Gyeobgyeob (重重)’: The survived Korean women who had been left in China – ‘Comfort Women’
Comfort women have, in recent years, gotten a lot of press. The Japanese government has acknowledged their terrible decisions during their time of empire, though they haven’t necessarily acknowledged it enough. Or so the argument goes. This exhibit isn’t about that, though; it’s about the people who got left behind, literally and figuratively. Each of the women depicted were sex slaves in Japan’s colonized China, where they remain to the present day. The photographer, An Sehong, found them, got to know them, and took these photographs them as they are now.
What I really liked about the photographs was the clear movement visible in them - An obviously used a very low shutter speed to show them in movement, hands waving. Sometimes, even the camera itself is moving all over the place alongside them. The technique leaves some photos blurry and out of focus, but it also shows how active the women are, and how they’re still moving about - the energy, the fight, is always there. Maybe they’d need it, to survive so long in a foreign country like that, one they never had an intention of going to?
This exhibit recently made some news in Japanese newspapers because apparently the right-wingers didn’t like being reminded of Japan’s less-than-great past, raised a fuss, and Nikon shuttered the exhibit. The artist sued, and forced it open again, complete with a whole new series of publications on the subject. While we were there, a journalist from the Wall Street Journal was there interviewing him, where he said he couldn’t be happier about the press, since it’s given him an attention (domestic and abroad) that he never expected.
It’s a nice plus, for sure - one comment he made was that he’s always surprised about how little Japanese visitors know about comfort women. Maybe, he thinks, they can learn a bit from this.
EDIT: the WSJ article written by the reporter I mentioned. I did not know nationalists showed up yesterday, but I am definitely not surprised.
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