On Aug. 7, members of Korean Press outlets MBC, KBS, and Radio Korea, gathered in the District Office of Assemblyman Charles Lavine to witness the first meeting of the New York State Assemblyman and Il-Chul Kang, a 78-year-old Korean woman who was forced into servitude as a so-called “comfort woman.”
Kang was born in 1928 in Sangju Kyeongsangbuk-do, Korea. In 1943, at the age of 16, she was forcibly taken to the Japanese military sexual slavery facilities in Pyungten, China. She was not able to return to her native Korea until 2000.
“I don’t have my family anymore; all I have is my courage,” Kang said through an interpreter.
In 2000, Kang became a resident of “The House of Sharing,” a residence and museum for survivors of Japanese military sexual slavery during WWII. It is an organization dedicated to protecting the women who were exploited by the Japanese military. It is a community that is also dedicated to reminding the world of the atrocities of the past, with a view toward preventing future cruelty and inhumanity.
In 2013, Lavine authored a New York State Proclamation honoring the American-Korean Community for having established a monument in Eisenhower Park commemorating the plight and sacrifices of the “comfort women” and calling on all Americans to stand against the brutal treatment suffered by girls and women in far too many parts of our modern world.
“Today was a day that I will never forget,” noted Lavine. “The courage and nobility of Ms. Kang to persevere through this horrific experience is truly inspiring. Her personal story should make each of us stand up for human rights and women’s rights.”