Who is sacrificing the old ladies?
Korean film “Spirits Homecoming” tells the story of two teenage Korean girls, Jung-min and Young-hee, who were one day kidnapped by Japanese soldiers in 1943 in order to be used as ‘Comfort Women’. They were forced to work in a so-called comfort station. In the end, Jung-min and Young-hee finally plan to escape because of the constant sexual assault and beatings. However, while Young-hee succeeds, Jung-min is killed by the Japanese soldiers. After Jung-min dies, the two friends have a spiritual meeting years later with the help of a shaman.
The director, Cho Jung-rae, got the inspiration for the film from a painting called ‘Burning Virgins’ by Kang ll-chul, who drew the picture during a psychological treatment session. When Kang Il-chul was a young girl, she was abused by the Japanese soldiers as a comfort woman. The painting shows a situation she experienced herself: Japanese soldiers pulled the comfort women who were suffering from disease or weakness to the incinerator and shot them. The soldiers then set the dead bodies on fire to destroy any proof of what they had done to the girls.
Professor Kim said in the interview with me, “Watching Spirits Homecoming, I think that the government as well as the people should be responsible for failing to protect the sacrifice. Also, I felt the sorrow of the weak nation. We must not follow in the footsteps of the tragedy and moreover, the Japanese government should formally apologize to the victims for what their soldiers did.”
Through his movie, director Cho wants to reach out to the comfort women who cannot return to their hometowns and console their traumatized memories. That is why he named the movie Spirits Homecoming.
In addition, he said in the preview, “With this film, I want to inform people about the pains and suffering comfort women experienced.” JO Entertainment, the production company of the movie, is advertising something called a ‘Hug-Together Campaign’. This campaign is meant to cure the hurt and mental pain of former comfort women by giving big warm hugs.
About 20 million young Korean girls were kidnapped by Japanese soldiers. Among them, only 238 survived to return to Korea. Now, only 40 ladies are living. However, they are still suffering from the trauma of their past memories. Spirits Homecoming, by sharing the struggles of comfort women and revealing the brutality of the Japanese soldiers, shows us that the agonies inflicted upon these women must never happen again.