Bok Dong Kim was 14 when she was forced to travel to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and other countries as a sex slave for Japanese soldiers during World War II.
Now, the petite 88-year-old travels the world on her own accord, speaking out against the atrocities she suffered to pressure the Japanese government to produce an official document apologizing to the nearly 200,000 so-called “comfort women” taken as sex slaves from Korea, China, Philippines and other countries.
That journey has taken her to Vienna, Washington, D.C., Chicago and, this week, a Koreatown hotel room. The reason? Planned appearances at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles and at Glendale Central Park, where on Tuesday city officials unveiled a statue of a Korean woman sitting next to an empty chair in honor of her and other comfort women.
The statue, which is a replica of one in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, has been strongly opposed by Japanese nationalists who contend women like Kim willfully engaged soldiers in sex as prostitutes. Nearly 100 Japanese Americans packed the City Council chambers earlier this month to protest the monument, calling comfort women liars.