The Chinese girl in Spirits’ Homecoming

Spirits’ Homecoming is the living hell.

Today, December 13th, the National public memorial day of Nanjing Massacre, is set by the Chinese government to commemorate the 300,000 victims in the Nanjing Massacre by the Japanese Army. On December 13, 1937, Japanese Army attacked and occupied Nanjing, and in the following 43 days from then on, innumerable civilians, unarmed soldiers, women and children, were massacred by the Japanese Army. Nanjing became a living hell. Here, the film Spirits’ Homecoming, tells another living hell, i.e., the misery of the comfort women in the comfort station. Spirits’ Homecoming is a 2016 South Korean period drama film written and directed by Cho Jung-rae. It is set during the Japanese occupation of Korea in 1943. The movie tells the story of 14-year old Jung-min and Young-hee. One day, Japanese soldiers come to kidnap the two girls in order to use them as ‘Comfort Women’. Jung-min and Young-hee plan to escape because of the constant sexual assault and beatings. However, while Young-hee succeeds, in order to save Young-hee, Jung-min is shot by the Japanese soldiers.

The Second World War, Japan, Comfort Women, behind which is the painful history, full of spots of tears and blood. In those years, more than 400,000 females from China, Korea and other Asian countries, suffered horrific ravage and slaughter by the Japanese soldiers. Most of them were buried in the history, even without their names. A few survivors, with their broken bodies, lived abject and grievous life, and they never were able to shake off the psychological shadow.

The cruelest thing is to destroy a beautiful thing, and show you the whole course. At the beginning, the film shows girls’ life with the keynote of pure and fresh. Trees in the wild, fresh wind and sunshine, carefree games with companions, families and neighbors, all show the simple and happy life. But, when the truck full of Japanese soldiers passes by, the perplexed and worried girls and playful smile on the Japanese soldiers’ faces, we all know the living hell is just right there. It is not fictional, but really existed in history. It is not isolated, but just one of the thousands of sufferings and nightmares.

And when the girls arrive at the comfort station where the Japanese soldiers vent sexual desire, they know what are waiting for them. They are in panic and fear and violation and beatings all day long, raped by dozens of Japanese soldiers. They are not allowed to speak Korean but Japanese, which make them lose freedom and country, and become unwanted wandering souls. Most of them are very young, even under age of 14, the flower age. The heroine answers the Japanese soldier that she is just 14, and a virgin, and she cries and begs and fears and screams, but the Japanese cares nothing and violates her. She is too young to know what the Japanese is doing. The most and heaviest atmosphere spreads out, and people cannot help shivering.

The Chinese girl in Spirits' Homecoming

The film also tells the brutal truth that even the Koreans are never on an equal footing with the Japanese, even if they take service in the Japanese army. One of the girls, whose brother is the Japanese army, is still kidnapped to use as Comfort Woman. When the brother wants to save his sister, he is beaten soundly by the Japanese. And the sister gets mad, and she calls every Japanese soldier bother, because they are in the same uniform as her brother.

The Chinese girl in Spirits’ Homecoming.

There is a plot about Chinese girl. A team of Japanese soldiers go to the comfort station. On the way, there are bodies randomly thrown away by the Japanese by the road to corrupt, without bury or cremation. That is really inhuman, because it is the basic respect to bury the dead. But, it may be quite usual to the Japanese. A Japanese soldier stops, and he takes off one of the dead girl’s clothes. He wants the girl to take on the clothes before the violence. And the girl is Chinese who does not know Japanese, and she is beaten badly by the Japanese soldier for her disobey.

The plot emphatically shows that the victims are very extensive. China and Korea, close neighbors separated only by a strip of water, are all invaded by Japanese for years. Because of war and confusion and fighting, people of two countries often cross the border line and go in to the other country. But, Japanese armies are everywhere, and they are all under the repressive rule of Japanese. In both countries, they can feel the loss of home. And when the disasters come, not a man is spared.

Furthermore, the film implicitly criticizes Chinese government that China suffered most among countries invaded by the Japanese army, and the number of Chinese females kidnapped by Japanese for Comfort Women was the biggest, but Chinese government never set a hardline tone against Japanese after the War. Take Comfort Women for an example, there is national-level researches, publications, or supporting living Comfort Women to ask Japanese government for compensation. And there is even not a film about the Comfort Women. Chinese acts only verbally, not practically. Numerous historical people and facts are left in the long river of history.

Japanese never has the courage to face the history.

Comfort women were females who were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army in occupied territories before and during World War II. Most of the women were from occupied areas, including Korea, China, Taiwan, Philippines, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, East Timor, and other Japanese-occupied territories. A smaller number of women of European origin were also involved from the Netherlands and Australia. Estimates as to how many women were involved, numbers are as high as 360,000 to 410,000. Stations were located in Japan, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, then Malaya, Thailand, Burma, New Guinea, Hong Kong, Macau, and French Indochina. 

So far, there is no official declaration from the Japanese government to face and acknowledge the Comfort Women problem and the pain brought to the victims. This is a question clearly worth thinking.