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A gesture for continual peace.

After attending one of the weekly protests staged by The Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, Kwon Yeong-seo and Yoon So-jeong felt compelled to act. Moved by the suffering endured by these grandmotherly women when they were young, these two high school students set out to finance a statue honoring those euphemistically called "comfort women."

Initial fundraising allowed them to purchase materials from which they made and sold butterfly badges. This emblem of transformation, expressing solidarity with the women's long-ignored exploitation and humiliation, was also incorporated into the final bronze. Similar statues show a seated adolescent which Kwon and Yoon considered too passive or resigned; they instructed the sculptor to create a figure with energy.

A formal apology for this sordid practice is unlikely given the close economic ties that exist between Japan and South Korea. Even finding a place to install the statue proved problematic until my Franciscan brothers offered a site.

Those not involved in the niceties of politics responded with less restraint and clothed the figurine to protect her against the winter cold. May these heartfelt gestures comfort all who live in shame and embolden the hesitant to do good, to act ethically.

By Jerry Bleem, O.F.M., a priest and artist who teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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Title Annotation:eye of the beholder
Author:Bleem, Jerry
Publication:U.S. Catholic
Date:Feb 1, 2017
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