Interview of Kim Young-shil


From Comfort Women Speak edited by Sangmie Choi Schellstede, published by Holmes & Meier , pp 48 -51



I am Kim Young-shil.  I was born on October 23, 1923 and was raised In Yang-gang-do, Bochon County.


It was 1941.  One day I encountered a well-dressed man in western clothes.  He asked me if I wanted to have a good job.  Thinking that any job would be better than working as a maid, I accepted his offer and followed him to where there were already eight other girls ahead of me.  They were all about 14 or 15 years old.


So we all got on a truck, and after about 30 minutes’ ride, we arrived at a place where there were many Japanese soldiers.  From there we were taken north near the border of China and Russia.  There was a huge military camp, and many girls had already arrived before us.  A soldier came up to me and put a name tag on my chest.  It had a Japanese name “Eiko” written on it.  He then told me, “From now on, you must not speak Korean. If you do, we will kill you.  Now, your name is Eiko.”


The officer who took us to the camp wore a good-looking uniform with a three-star insignia.  He came into my room that night.  Scared, I jumped up.  He sat down, laid his sword on the floor, and proceeded to take off his clothes.  Why was he doing this?  Where is my job?   I started to cry.  He shouted. “You obey my orders.  I will kill you if you don’t.”  He then held me down and raped me.  I was a virgin until that moment.


From the following day on, I was forced to service sex to ten to 20 soldiers every day, and 40 to 50 on Sundays.  We were exhausted, weakened, and some of us could not even eat meals.  We were in the state of “half-dead.”  Some girls became really sick and could not recover from the ordeal.  The soldiers took them away.  We did not know what happened to them but we never saw them again.  A new batch of girls arrived to replace the missing ones, like we did.


There was a girl next to my cubicle.  She was younger than I, and her Japanese name was Tokiko.  One day an officer overheard her speaking to me and accused her of speaking Korean.  He dragged her out to a field and ordered all of us to come out there.  We all obeyed.  He said, “This girl spoke Korean.  So she must die.  You will be killed if you do too.  Now, watch how she dies.”  He drew his sword.  Horrified, I closed my eyes and turned my face away.  When I opened my eyes, I saw her severed head on the ground.


On Sundays we were made especially busy.  Soldiers stood in line in front of our cubicles.  They got ready for their turn by undoing their puttees from their legs, rolling them up and holding them in their hands.  They shamelessly exhibited their lust like animals in heat.  Many of them could not control themselves and shouted, “Madaka?  Hayaku!  Hayaku!” (Not finished yet? Hurry! Hurry!)  Some even came into my cubicle even before the act was finished.


I was totally exhausted.  I could keep neither my sense of humiliation nor my dignity.  I felt like a living corpse.  When soldiers came to my room and did it to me one after another, it was done to a lifeless body.  Again.  And again.  And again….


Interview in Pyongyang, North Korea. August, 1992