What is your work about?
My work is based on the story of Seowoon Jung’s life as a comfort woman. She was kidnapped by Japanese soldiers from her home in Korea to Semarang, Indonesia, during World War II. The Japanese government forced women from all over Asia into sexual slavery to “comfort” their soldiers worn out from the war, and Seowoon Jung was one of them.
What preparations did you take for this exhibition?
Because this work deals with Seowoon’s life as a comfort woman, I decided to follow the route from her home in Korea to Indonesia, where the Japanese soldiers took her. She was sixteen, and the countries she visited were unknown and frightening to her. She stayed at Simonoseki, Japan, for the first few months until the soldiers placed her in Semarang, Indonesia, for six years. As I traveled through Japan by boat and actually set foot on Seowoon’s route, I gained a glimpse of what her life would have been like.
Tell us about the materials used in this space.
I mainly used cloth and thread made of cotton called Gwang-Mok and Moo-Myung. Back in those days, girls wore clothes made of such materials, so I thought it would be perfect to use in this project. I cut clean, white Gwang-Mok into pieces – enough to account for the number of days Seowoon spent as a comfort woman – then stitched them back together. I took this needlework along with an unworn Moo-Myung Hanbok (Korean traditional clothes) with me throughout my travels, laid them on the streets, and watched them get trampled on and stained with dirt by pedestrians. I brought these back to Artpace and used them to complete my work.