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Park Young Shim

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Park Young Shim was born in 1921 in Nampo, in the northern part of Korea. She recalled that she was often lonely because her mother died in childbirth. When Young Shim was 17, she went to visit her grandma. There, a Japanese man kidnapped Young Shim and her friend.  In the spring of 1939,  the two girls joined 15 Korean girls who arrived at the “Ginsuyiru Comfort Station” in Nanjing, China.  When Young Shim entered the station, there were rows of 2-meter by 2-meter rooms with only a bed. Young Shim was assigned a Japanese name and given the 19th bed on the second floor.


In the morning, Japanese soldiers flooded into the rooms. Young Shim was forced to ‘service’ an estimated 30 men a day and if she resisted in the slightest, she was taken to an attic, stripped naked, and whipped. She said, “On one day, I was in so much pain that I refused an officer’s request. Then he proceeded to punch and kick me and then took out a long knife and threatened me as if he was about to kill me. Then he began to rape me and told me to see how the Imperial army felt like.” On another day, when Young Shim resisted, a soldier cut a 5cm deep line in her stomach. 


After three years in the “Ginsuyiru Comfort Station,” Young Shim was taken to another “comfort station” in Yangoon, Burma. Out of the seven Korean girls there, only four survived. After two years in Yangoon, she was once again transported to the border between Burma and China. When she overheard Japanese soldiers saying that they were burning the flag, Young Shim realized that the war was over and decided to run away with the remaining Korean girls. In September 1944, allied forces took a photo with four Comfort Women.  Young Shim was later identified as the pregnant girl clutching her stomach on the right. 


After a total of eight years in Comfort Stations, Young Shim returned home in 1946. She lived a hard life, suffering from the aftermath of the torture in the stations. She had to get her womb cut out and suffered from frequent nervous breakdowns.  In 1993, Young Shim publicly testified on her experience. Young Shim traveled to Tokyo to testify in the Tokyo Tribunal in 2000 but when she saw a shower gown that looked like the kimono (a traditional Japanese dress) she saw in the “comfort station,” she had a breakdown and was unable to speak. In 2003, she returned to Nanjing, China, to see the site of a “comfort station” she had suffered in. There she cried for hours. Young Shim passed away on August 7, 2006.



Photo of Comfort Women in Songshan, China, 3 Sept 1944. The girl clutching her stomach on the right is Park Young Shim.

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