Following is Groove Korea's editorial for the April 2013 issue. — Ed.
Blog profile: kikinitinkorea.tumblr.com
Some blogs are good, but most are not. So it is surprising when one comes along that captures an audience. Just when it felt like nothing could surprise you from a Korean expat blog, along came KikinitinKorea and the witty Californian behind it.
Former sex slaves to the Japanese Imperial Army have protested outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul every Wednesday since 1992. There have been more than 1,045 protests. Most weeks they are joined by their allies, supporters or family members.
They protest because no Japanese official has stood before them to apologize for the rape they endured at the hands of Japanese soldiers — through a despicable system created by Japan’s government — nor have they received a penny of compensation from the government of Japan.
I was born on Oct. 10, 1927, the second of six children. I had an older brother, two younger brothers, and two sisters. My older brother’s name was Bongjo, and my sisters’ names were Okju and Oki, but I can’t remember the names of my younger brothers.
Kim Bok-dong is 87 years old. She is articulate, smart, dignified and kind. And for eight years she was raped every day by Japanese soldiers.
Kim described how when the Japanese colonized Korea in the early 20th century, she was “unlucky” enough to be 14 years old. She was taken — she didn’t explain exactly how.
“When asked where I was being taken, they said I was being taken to a factory to make military uniforms,” Kim said in an interview. If she didn’t go, she was told, her family would be exiled. So she went.
Every year thousands of Ethnic Koreans from around the world come to Korea to explore their roots. Their experiences with Korean culture and heritage vary — some speak Korean, some don’t — but most report that a big reason they are here is to try to fill in some missing information. Following is an interview with Romin Lee Johnson, who came to Korea to explore his shared Korean heritage with his wife and children. — Ed.
Buried in the bosom of Seoul’s business district is a small self-service café. High-rise buildings of chrome and glass and the steady stream of traffic and business suits outside fade into chaos and color when you step into Mamas. Rickety tables, mismatched chairs, bustling servers and random quotes on the walls create a motley collection of European styles reminiscent of an Italian café.