As a participant at the nongovernmental organization forum that accompanied the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, I witnessed a delegation of Korean "comfort women" survivors who were trying to call attention to their victimization as sex slaves for the Japanese military during World War II.
By then, they were no longer young and some indeed looked frail, but they made a powerful and striking presence to demand recognition of their history.
In the early 1990s, Kim Hak Soon was the first former comfort woman to speak out, at the age of 67, and her testimony inspired other women to do the same. Within one year more than 200 other Korean women who had been enslaved as comfort women came forward. They have joined together, supported each other and shared their experience.
A local monument to these brave women was the subject of a startling May 19 story in The New York Times. The first surprise was my own ignorance of the monument, just across the Hudson River from New York City, in Palisades Park, N.J., where more than half of the population is of Korean descent. Since it's the only one of its kind in the U.S., it seemed strange that it had not attracted widespread publicity and become a major pilgrimage site for women's advocates.