On January 24th, 2013, Korean American Civic Empowerment (KACE) and the Kupferberg Holocaust Center held a presentation of the East Asian History Internship.

This program is a joint project between KACE and the Kupferberg Holocaust Center, that has been continually planned out since the Comfort Women Art Exhibition in 2011. In preparation for the Fall 2012 semester, nine interns were picked, and Dr. Jimin Kim, who majored in East Asian History at Columbia University, was chosen as the instructor.

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During the course of the internship, interns learned about the history of World War II, and specifically dealt with forced drafts and comfort women. Through Skype, the interns were able to interview four ‘comfort women’ survivors in the House of Sharing, and recorded their testimonies. The interns also interviewed forced laborers who reside in New York.

The interns that directly interviewed the ‘comfort women’ survivors recollected how their emotions were shaken up by the testimonies, and reinforced their desire to study this problem more in-depth. During the internship process, the interns encountered the ‘comfort women’ issue through documentaries and books, but when they encountered the issue first hand, how they saw this problem changed. One of the interns stated that his sister is 15 years old, and when he heard the survivors speak about how they were taken away at that age, he was devastated.

A forced laborer from Hong Kong also attended this presentation, giving his testimony first-hand. He recollected the tragedies and crimes he saw during the Japanese occupation. He stated that many women were raped by Japanese soldiers, and murders were perpetrated as well. He commented that such crimes should never be repeated again, and that it is up to the interns and the current generation to make sure that the world knows and remembers the pain and suffering resulting from these crimes.

Many local politicians attended this presentation to emphasize the importance of this internship and encouraged the staff & interns. New York State Senator Tony Avella, New York State Assemblyman Ed Braunstein, New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim, and New York City Councilman Peter Koo attended this meeting.

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NYS Assemblyman Edward Braunstein

NYS Assemblyman Ron Kim

NYC Councilman Peter Koo

Categories: News
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