korea was occupied by imperial japan between 1910 and 1945. “japanese were law and we were forced to just obey their orders…” says lee ok-seon. In 1942, she was deceived and taken to china. she was 15 years old, and forcibly became one of the many women who were enslaved to sexually “serve” the Japanese soldiers. they are commonly known as “comfort women.” after Liberation in 1945, lee ok-seon eventually found a way to return to her home town of daegu, south korea, but among the 26 women in her neighborhood drafted with her to “comfort stations” in china, she was the only one to return; the others never came back to their families again.
up to 200,000 women were forced into imperial japanese military sexual slavery between the years of 1932 to 1945, including individuals from various countries in the asia-pacific, as well as approximately a hundred european women from their colonies in the region. no one can say precisely how many enslaved women survived the war and returned home. However, what is certain is that the five korean women featured in this photo series, and who were snatched from their home towns to “serve” in “comfort stations” in china, have yet to return home after the war.