Korean Comfort Women

Published: 1.30.2018
Level 5   |   Time: 3:05
Accent: Australian, British
BBC Global News Podcast (1.29.2019)

A prominet former Korean comfort woman, Kim Bok Dong, has died recently, highligting unresolved issues about past atrocities committed by the Japanese military.


You can download the file [ HERE ].


triangle Directions

  1. REVIEW the vocabulary.
  2. LISTEN to the audio.
  3. ANSWER the questions.
  4. CHECK your answers (Show Answers)

triangle Vocabulary

  • abduct [v] - steal someone, kidnap
  • a brothel [n] - a house where men can visit prostitutes
  • a comfort woman [n] - a woman or girl who was forced into sexual slavery by Japanese soldiers between 1937 and 1945
  • critical [adj] - express negative comments
  • compensate [v] - give money for some loss or injury
  • adequately [adv] - enough
  • decades [n] - 10s of years, many years
  • campaigning [n] - work in an organized way toward a particular goal
  • enslave [v] -make into a slave
  • come out [phv] - reveal one's identity publically
  • an embassy [n] - a government office in a foreign country
  • detain [v] - keep or put in jail
  • in cahoots [exp] - work together
  • a village chief [n] - the leader of a village
  • conclude [v] - decide
  • a minister [n] - a government official
  • a gag clause [n] - a formal agreement not to talk about something
  • fora [n] - many forums
  • a forum [n] - a place or situation where ideas are expressed publically
  • incidents [n] - an event or happening
  • on the basis of [exp] - based on
  • a battering ram [n] - a tool to make something happen with force
  • a bludgeon [n] - a tool to make something happen with force
  • a dead duck [exp] - something that has no chance of success

[n] - noun,  [v] - verb,  [phv] - phrasal verb,  [adj] - adjective,  [exp] - expression

triangle Questions

  1. Who abducted Kim Bok Dong from her home?
    The Korean military
    The Japanese military
    The Korean government

  2. In what year was she abducted?

  3. How old was she when she was abducted?

  4. In which countries was she forced to work in military brothels?

  5. Why did she become famous later in life?
    She recently organized the first protest against Japan.
    She was one of the first comfort women to escape.
    She was one of the first comfort women to speak out publically.

  6. Why was she critical of the Japanese government?
    Japan denied abducting her.
    Japan never offered a sincere apology.
    Japan never compensated comfort women adequately for their suffering.

  7. How old was she when she died?

  8. What did Dr. Norma write a book about?
    Comfort Women
    Kim Bok Dong
    Japanese military history

  9. When did Kim Bok Dong register as a Comfort Woman survivor?

  10. Who helped the Japanese military official abduct Kim Bok Dong when she was a child?
    The Korean president
    The Korean military
    Her village chief

  11. What year was Kim Bok Dong born?

  12. What country did the Japanese military first send her to?

  13. Who signed the agreement for $9 million in compensation for comfort women?
    Kim Bok Dong
    Park Geun Hye
    Moon Jae-in

  14. Who recently rejected this agreement?
    The current Japanese Prime Minister
    The previous Japanese Prime Minister
    The current Korean President
    The previous Korean president

  15. Who negotiated and made the agreement?
    Government officials from Korea
    Government officials from Japan
    Surviving Comfort Women
    Organizations representing Comfort Women

  16. Who did not participate in the negotiation of the agreement?
    Government officials from Korea
    Government officials from Japan
    Surviving comfort women
    Organizations representing comfort women

  17. What was the main problem with the agreement?
    It had a gag clause.
    It didn't provide enough money.
    It was unclear.

  18. After the agreement was signed, what did the Japanese goverment complain about?
    The agreement provided too much money.
    Korean officials mentioned comfort women in public.
    There were no surviving comfort women.

  19. Who never (was given the chance to) accept or reject the agreement?
    Comfort women
    Moon Jae-in
    Park Geun Hye

triangle Script

Kim Bok Dong was abducted from her home in Korea by Japanese soldiers in 1940 when she was 14. She was sent to military brothels in Taiwan, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore. And in 1992, she became only the second so-called comfort woman to speak out about her horrific wartime experiences. And she was very critical of what she said was Japan's refusal to apologise sincerely to former sex slaves or to compensate them adequately for their suffering. Kim Bok Dong died yesterday at the age of 93 after decades of campaigning.

To find out more about her, Dan Damon spoke to Dr. Caroline Norma, an academic at RMIT University in Melbourne Australia who's written a book on the tens of thousands of former comfort women who were enslaved by the Japanese military.

Kim Bok Dong was and is a living hero. She came out registered as a survivor in South Korea very early on in 1992. And ever since she registered in January, every week she participated in, for example, the protest that's held outside of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul. She did that after having experienced as a child, at age 14, being detained and taken away by a contracted Japanese civilian of the military in cahoots with her local village chief, which is not an unusual story.

She was born in 1925 and then was trafficked from the South Korean port of Busan across to Shimonoseki in Japan and in through Taiwan into a brothel in Guangdong in southern China.

There was an agreement between the last president in South Korea, Park Geun Hye, and the Japanese government to produce compensation of nine million dollars. But the administration now of Moon Jae-in, the new president, has rejected that. Why?

It was an agreement concluded between high level government officials, the foreign ministers of both Japan and South Korea, without consulting survivors or even the representative organizations of survivors.

And the primary problem with it was that it came with a gag clause for Korean government and public officials, diplomatic officials, mentioning the topic of the military sexual slavery during the China and Pacific Wars in public fora.

So very quickly after the deal was signed between the two governments, a couple of incidents occurred over the early months of 2016 where the issue was raised in various fora by South Korean officials. And that brought condemnation from the Japanese side over and over on the basis of, "We have signed this deal with you and giving you money, and therefore you are now gagged. Why you going back on the agreement?" So the agreement from its very signing was used as a battering ram and a bludgeon against South Koreans and was never accepted by survivors or their organizations. It was sort of a dead duck before it even started.

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