I just got back from seeing the photography exhibit by Ahn Sehong of Korean women who were used as sex slaves by the Japanese military, and were dumped on some barren field in China to fend off for themselves. Now in their 80’s and 90’s, Ahn Sehdong has captured their poverty and their sorrows in black-and-white images.
The exhibit is controversial in that right-wing Japanese are in denial about their shameful past. At the exhibit, they made a nuisance of themselves, speaking in loud voices and calling it “Korean propaganda.” One of them targeted a guard of Korean descent, and made faces at him showing hatred and anger. I admire the guard for keeping his dignity and not falling prey to the heckler’s aggression and provocations.
We had expected these right-wing hecklers to be the typical Japanese right-wingers: elderly, sometimes in military uniform, wearing a white band on the forehead or arm, and/or wearing some sort of military-looking cap on the head. But these were young people, so atypical right-winger, and we concluded that they were most probably paid to do an hour’s worth of heckling. We did notice one genuine protester, a man in his 60’s with a white band tied around each arm with an imprint of a red dot and some japanese characters. He spoke in a low voice to no one in particular. People around largely ignored him, but he was discretely and conspicuously protesting.
It is characteristic of the Japanese to shy away from controversy and anything that brings discomfort, and Nikon has reacted in typical Japanese form. Although Nikon had chosen to exhibit the works of Ahn Sehong, they have gone to court to have the exhibit terminated, bowing down to the heckling of right-wing illiterates.
We met with Ahn Sehdong before we left, congratulating him on his photo exhibit and encouraging him with our support in his endeavour to bring to the world’s attention, the plight of the Korean comfort women in China.