Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Protest That Didn't Protest

So there I am, sitting there, in the middle of Seoul... looking around, hoping, praying someone will soon be here. I'm analyzing everyone I look at. Construction worker. Office worker. Construction worker. Secretary. Tourist. Restaurant worker. Construction worker. No ajummas, no young regular looking Koreans, no 'sign' in site. So I walk around to the other side of the building. Well.. I am 10 minutes early. You know what Dad said, never be on time, ALWAYS be early. But why did I listen this time? I should have been fashionably late, then I wouldn't be so worried. But wait, if I showed up a little late.. what if the protest ended because no one was there. A protest doesn't just end though because no one is there. You can protest on the inside all you want, but where are the OUTSIDE protesters. I need them. I want to protest, I want to join a group to protest on the outside for an important issue. Geeze, this is a large building.. where are all of these construction workers coming from.

Dangit, no one is on the other side of the building either. And there's no where to sit and wait. I guess it is back to the other side I go. Should I ask that security guard, no, what if he yells at me. No, maybe in 10 minutes I'll ask him. So I walk back to the other side of the building, sit, wait, clutch my poster.. it says "You wanted comfort. They want closure" pretty clever, great teamwork by Bruce and I. I just stare at everyone, lean forward, lean back, lean forward.. no ajummas, no one shouting, no one with signs, no one with a banner.. I'm definitely at the Japanese Embassy though. But this is a huge building.. what if they're protesting inside of the building today.. no... no.. they wouldn't do that, all of the pictures were outdoors. Should I go up and see, I could ask the lady in the lobby that I see through the door. But, how do I ask.. do I simply point at the sign? I bet they're sick of seeing protesters here every Wednesday. She'd probably lie to get me to go away! ERRR, this is one of the only times I'll be able to do this, I have this Wednesday off, that's never happened before.. and I've never been able to go. I guess I could try again some other time this year.

But I don't want to give up! I don't want to.. I've been looking SO forward to this. A bit bummed that no one was interested in coming with me though. OK, it's been 10 minutes, it's almost 12:15.. time to walk to the other side again. No one. No one. No one. Well there are people, plenty of people, but none that have that look in their eye.. the look I would expect from someone who is about to protest, someone who means business. So I go into the Starbucks, they have no clue what I'm even hinting at. Then I ask the security guard, he just shrugs and says no... what the heck?! This sucks! I read every last direction I could find on all of the websites, and even one of my students called and asked for me. Maybe I am in fact in the wrong place, maybe there are two Japanese embassies? I have no clue, why didn't I bring the phone number with me?! As if they would even understand me. So I do one last check around the other side of the building, no one, so I mope away. Slightly defeated. Slightly more geared up for when I'll get to 'try' to do it again.

This is a really important issue. And one that has pulled at my heart strings since I first heard about these 'Comfort Women' when I took part in the Vagina Monologues. The stories they must have, the constant terror and pain they must be living with, how can it be brushed aside, how can the government be so weak, all they want is an apology, someone to take blame for their living hell. These poor women are 80 now, there aren't very many left, they still fight all of the time... fighting for power, fighting for a voice, fighting for their lives to return... they need closure... they need someone to take the blame so they can stop blaming themselves... they need... they live... they fight... we need to fight for them and pressure the Japanese government, we cannot allow this nowadays, we cannot let this keep happening to women, we cannot.

(October 2011)
More information on Comfort Women:

The Comfort Women just had their 1000th Wednesday protest, and they rallied around a new monument that was placed outside of the Japanese Embassy, calling it a monument of peace.
It is a very simple statue, but the Japanese government hates it.. and has asked it to be removed.. and before it was erected, they opposed it and threatened the Korean government not to allow it.
Article on the 1,000th protest:

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