NEW YORK – Seven American politicians based in New York attended the
opening on Monday of an exhibition in memory of victims of sexual
slavery by Japan.
The politicians, including Dan Halloran, a New
York City councilman, and Grace Meng, a New York State legislator, along
with 300 other guests, attended the opening reception for the
exhibition “Come from the Shadows,” which is being held at the Harriet
and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center in New York.
is rare for as many as seven New York State Assembly or City Council
members to participate in a Korean community event,” said Dongchan Kim,
the New York head of the Korean American Voters’ Council (KAVC).
politicians were reportedly preparing a statement demanding
acknowledgement and an apology from Japan on behalf of the so-called
“comfort women” at the opening.
The exhibition, held in
cooperation with KAVC, features paintings by six Korean artists and
several former comfort women. The exhibition is the center’s first to
deal with the subject of comfort women.
The opening day of the
exhibition coincided with the 66th anniversary of Korea’s Liberation
Day, which commemorates freedom from Japan’s 35-year colonial rule.
During that era, many women from Korea, China and other Asia-Pacific
countries were forced into sexual slavery by Japan.
exhibition, held at a Holocaust Center located in the heart of the
Jewish community, is being held to let people know the truth about the
comfort women,” Kim said. “And mainstream society in the U.S. is showing
great interest in it.”
Arthur Flug, the head of the Holocaust
Center, told the JoongAng Ilbo that the center will distribute
educational materials about the comfort women issue to U.S. schools,
saying it is urgent to create a public awareness campaign on the issue
given the dwindling number of survivors. Only about 70 Korean former
comfort women are currently living.
Flug said there was some
skepticism about the exhibition, especially regarding why the center
would promote what is seen as a predominantly Korean issue. But, he
said, the comfort women find common ground with Holocaust victims in
that they are victims of crimes against humanity.
He said the
center is also planning to invite both former Korean comfort women and
survivors of the Holocaust to give their accounts of their harrowing
experiences to students of Queensborough Community College, which houses
The event, Flug said, will highlight the idea that
war crimes are not just an issue for Jewish people or Koreans, but for
people worldwide. The exhibition continues at the center through Sept.