“I read a book of testimony of the surviving “comfort women” in 2000 and it completely shook me to my core…Inspired by their stories, I was compelled to make a theater piece about it. It was my way of responding to their experience…I wanted to remember them in an active way. Their survival and continuing fight to get official apologies from the Japanese government inspire all of us. Their story is an excellent example of resilient human sprit.” – Haerry Kim
The ETS Theater Company production of FACE, written and performed by Haerry Kim, was inspired by testimonies of Korean Comfort Women during World War II. “Comfort women” was a euphemism for sex slave, as the majority of these girls and women were taken against their will, held prisoner by the Japanese Imperial Army, and forced to sexually service military men.
Understand clearly that this was a government run operation designed to prevent venereal disease and espionage, as well as rapes committed against local residents in occupied areas. Women of many other Asian nations were held as Comfort Women, but Kim’s story focuses on those of her native Korea.
While Kim has no doubt researched the stories of many of these women, the last generation of which is still alive and demonstrating regularly for a public apology and some recompense from the Japanese government, she has streamlined it into the story of just one representative woman, who is lured from her life in a Korean mountain village at the age of 14 with the promise of work for good pay and chance to earn a high school diploma in Japan. As teenage girls never do anything alone, she convinces her best friend to come with her. As the story progresses her greatest sorrow is that she brought her friend into this living hell, although we learn that both of them survive to old age.