Apologize for the Systemic Rape of Vietnamese Women During the Vietnam War
I was only a young girl when South Korean soldiers came to fight in my country of Vietnam as an ally of the United States during the Vietnam War. At the time, my family owned a small tea shop near a Korean military base. One day, while all her children looked on, a South Korean soldier entered our shop and raped my mother. Several months later, another soldier came to our shop and raped me. Both my mother and I got pregnant from our assaults.
After learning of the assault, my father shunned my mother and abandoned our family. Neither my mother or I ever saw the soldiers who raped us again, and neither of us knew where to go or who to ask for help. Those soldiers, and the others like them, left our country and never faced any consequences. I had to accept that what happened to me was my fate.
After my mother passed away in 1975, I raised my younger brother and my children together. I had to flee an abusive husband with my brother and children to a new area where I struggled to make ends meet. My life has not been easy, but I am proud of what I have been able to accomplish despite everything that has happened to me.
I represent the thousands of Vietnamese women raped and brutalized by South Korean soldiers during the Vietnam War, and I am calling for justice.
This week, South Korean President Park Geun-hye will come to the United States for an official state visit and meeting with President Obama. She is the daughter of former President Park Chung-hee, who commanded the South Korean soldiers during the Vietnam War. For more than 40 years, the South Korean government has not recognized these atrocities committed by their soldiers during the war -- but I will no longer accept their silence.
Only 800 survivors like me are estimated to be alive today. Our children are the Lai Dai Han, or mixed Vietnamese and Korean blood. We have struggled for decades without a formal apology, acknowledgement, or reparations from the Korean Government. I fear that soon there will be no one left to tell our stories and that we will be forgotten.
We survivors and Lai Dai Han also want to look ahead. While we are old, we want to have hope for the futures of children and grandchildren. We urge you to issue a sincere and deep apology for the crimes committed against us and our families and to consider reparations for the decades of hardship we have faced.
With that, we wish to move forward with the dignity of recognition.
Please visit VietnamVoices.org to watch more stories like mine.
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