With the first-ever "comfort women" monument to be built abroad at Glendale, Los Angeles, KAFC is now about to reach another milestone of revising textbooks across California. Photo provided by Phyllis Kim.
KAFC, making changes from grassroots movements
One of the most actively participating organizations of the CWJC is the Korean American Forum of California (KAFC), established in 2007. The KAFC was initiated when the national grassroots movement in the States took place to pass House Resolution 121. Proposed by Mike Honda, a third-generation Japanese congressman, it is well known as the “Comfort Women Resolution.” With less than 10 Koreans in the community, living their ordinary lives, is where the story of KAFC begins. Within a decade, this non-profit organization brought about change in all public school textbooks in California and the firstever “comfort women” monument abroad. “The California government constantly processes their guidelines for public school textbooks, and it was through this that we proposed that the ‘comfort women’ issue should be part of the new framework,” said Phyllis Kim, Executive Director at the KAFC, “Woman of the Year” in 2017 for the 28th District of California for her works acknowledged in securing human and women’s rights. “When the proposed issue was included in the announced draft, we circulated a petition for two months.” From January to February last year, there were over 20,000 participants pleading to accept the new guideline. Although some opposing the announced draft intervened in the process, it was finally accepted. Starting from September this year, all sophomores in California will learn about “comfort women” as those coerced into sexual slavery during WWII by Japanese military. However, difficulties continued, for after the guidelines were settled, the two governments reached the South Korea-Japan “Comfort Women Agreement” in 2015. Even though this deal faced fierce opposition in South Korea as it was an improper apology, along with the victims’ rejection of the monetary disbursements, the agreement was announced as a “final and irreversible deal.” “It would be very problematic if this also becomes a part of the textbook. Without further deliberation, students would be taught of a bilateral agreement that permanently and irreversibly settled the ongoing conflict,” Kim said. “We are working with educators in California to create lesson plans to be used in high school classrooms throughout the U.S.” The KAFC frequently holds lectures at UCLA, Harvard, Stanford University, and Occidental College to address issues relevant to “ comfort women. ” On a global stage, they also strive to build healthy relationships with politicians from different countries to solve the problem in the right way. As her final comment, Kim asked Koreans for more attention regarding the issue. She concerned herself of how some Koreans tend to underestimate the power of the victims’ testimony on a global scale and the pain they bear remembering this time. “All we have today would never have been possible without their testimonies, but time is running out,” Kim explained. “I plead for more attention and action in Korea for those who sympathize on solving the issue.”
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