HERSTORY – Korean Comfort Women.
Sixty years after the end of World War II, Japan is avoiding most responsibility for the experiences of the women it forced into sexual slavery. Most of the women, and perpetrators would now be dead, or at best very old. But the sores from World War II on this issue persist, certainly between Korea and Japan.
Herstory is certainly a solid achievement, fitting comfortably into the pattern of films dramatizing real events. In this the character we follow through these events is not one of the comfort women but the confident, almost arrogant owner of a Travel Agency, who gets into trouble at the start when her agency is accused of organized sex tours. But Moon Jeong-Sook becomes involved in the issue when she sees a comfort woman opening up about her experiences on television. And at home, she is having trouble with her own school-aged daughter. Jeong- sook is even proud of the way she neglects her, claiming it is character building.
Jeong-sook starts soliciting support for the women, and offers her Tourist agency offices as a call-centre when it has been temporarily closed by the authorities for the Sex tours scandal. I assume that she is a fictitious character, but as such, she works well to provide the viewer with a passage into and through the story. Her character arc is in itself involving, and expands the relevance of the issue beyond just the lives of the Comfort Women themselves.
The film is punctuated with scenes of street demonstrations in both Korea and Japan, both supporting the women and condemning them for the shame theyare bringing on the community.
Courtroom scenes always make for good drama, and this has some very effective ones. The testimony of the women carries even greater impact because of their hesitancy and the clear stress given it brings on them. Perhaps some of the courtroom opposition is painted a little too simplistically black, but in the overall context this is forgivable.