Korean Sex Slave Documentary to Screen in Washington, Seoul

'The Last Tear'

'The Last Tear,' about Korean women forced to be "comfort women" to Japanese soliders, will get special screenings timed to the 70th anniversary of Korean independence.

A documentary film about Korean women forced into sexual slavery during World War II will get a special screening in Washington D.C. this weekend, timed to Korea's Independence Day, Aug. 15.

The Last Tear, from Korean-American filmmaker Christopher H.K. Lee (Fading Away), will screen on Saturday at 1 p.m. EST at the United States Navy Memorial in Washington. On the same day, it will premiere in Seoul, South Korea. The occasion falls on the 70th anniversary of Korea's Independence Day, which marks the country's liberation from Japanese colonialism at the end of WWII. The Last Tear had its U.S. premiere on Wednesday at the CGV Theater in Los Angeles, the city that is home to the largest population of ethnic Koreans outside of South Korea.

Johns Hopkins University's SAIS U.S.-Korea Institute co-produced the doc, which looks at the fate of the estimated 200,000 women from Korea, China and other Japanese-occupied Asian territories who were recruited or forced to become sexual slaves for the Imperial Japanese Army during the war.  

The fate of those euphemistically called "comfort women" began to gain greater attention in the 1990s as testimonies of these women began to be collected and published.  Last year, the U.S. Senate passed a bill addressing the issue for the first time, calling on the government of Japan to "formally acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility for "its Imperial Armed Forces' coercion of young women into sexual slavery."

The film travels thousands to miles across Japan, Korea, China and Taipei to meet remaining survivors as well as to document historical locations.

"Now into their 80s and 90s, these women are becoming weaker day by day, and we believe that such traces of painful memories and tragic stories may never be healed," the U.S-Korea Institute said in a statement. "But by remembering them and embracing them, we will provide a step towards their ultimate closure. Our film's purpose is to share the emotions of the past and to connect our generations in a more personal and humanistic way. Through understanding the faults of the past, we allow them to never be erased, and prevent them from happening again."

The Saturday screening in Washington will feature a Q&A section with the director. More information about the film can be found on the director's website or on the U.S.-Korea Institute's website.

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