[Readers Talk] Asking the Readers
Asking the Readers for their Opinions on the Webzine <Kyeol> in 2019?
On October 18, 2019, the Research Institute on Japanese Military Sexual Slavery held a Readers Symposium to welcome the evaluations and opinions of the readers on the Webzine <Kyeol> project conducted in 2019. It was a time to verify whether the messages targeted by the Webzine <Kyeol> had been successfully delivered to the various readers, not only those experts in the Japanese military ‘comfort women’ issues, but also the people in the media, researchers, activists, housewives, etc.
The editors of the Webzine <Kyeol> conducted a separate readers talk with three people to engage in more in-depth opinions at the readers symposium held in October last year. What articles did the readers like the most and thought were the most meaningful? Also, what did they feel was inconvenient when using the webzine?
Readers Talk Date : October 31, 2019nbsp;
Host: 현승인, 최지은 (Slowalk)
Panel: 김연정(Completed a Ph.D. in Women’s Studies at York University)/ 이상미 (Editor of the Webzine ‘Ideology’)/ 김보경 (Slowalk Contents Team)
* Please note that the opinions of the panels participating in this symposium may differ from the official opinions of each affiliated institute and the Research Institute of Japanese Military Sexual Slavery
How would you view your first encounter with the Webzine <Kyeol>?
Hello. Thank you for taking the time to participate in this Readers Talk. First, please introduce yourselves briefly and give us your first impression of the Webzine <Kyeol>. Allow me to introduce myself first, I am 현승인, the editor of the Webzine <Kyeol>.
I am 최지은, and I am a PM of the Webzine <Kyeol> project at Slowalk.
Hello. I am 김연정and I am currently studying women’s studies. I completed my Ph.D. at York University. The Japanese military ‘comfort women’ issue has always been of great interest to me. My first impression of the Webzine <Kyeol> was “Oh..?” I must admit that I didn’t expect much because it was a government project, but I was pleasantly surprised at the fact that it dealt with the Japanese ‘comfort women’ issue with a balanced perspective. In Korea, this issue is usually dealt with from the perspective of Korea-Japan relations or is predominately focused on the victims. However, the Webzine <Kyeol> made every effort to achieve the right balance. I was very excited because it was so enjoyable to read. As soon as I’d finished with the webzine, I had an insatiable need to do something similar, but I pondered how much work it would take to come this far.
My name is 이상미 and I am an editor of Webzine ‘Ideology.’ I first accessed the Webzine <Kyeol> through my mobile, and a few pieces immediately caught my attention. It was really interesting to read the pieces that dealt with mass media, such as
I am 김보경, and I am responsible for planning work at the contents team of Slowalk. At first, I got the impression that it would be difficult to make my way through it. I was slightly perturbed by the thumbnail images of the Webzine <Kyeol> that felt stiff during my first visit, and even before I started to read I was concerned by the complexity of the topics. How can I put it… the overall impression of the website is very elegant. So, for me, it was a little difficult to approach. However, as it is well organized, with short titles, and direct and thoroughly well written, it is comprised of so many elements to attract the readers furtive eyes.
If you were to recommend any piece from the Webzine <Kyeol> to acquaintances, what would it be?
● <정영환 X 박노자, an Online Discussion – ‘Comfort Women’ Issue from the Post-Division Perspective>
● <Now/Here Inside and Outside of ‘Comfort Women’ Movies>
- <Grandma’s Tomorrow – Interview of Kim Daewol Arts and the Science Department Head at the House of Sharing>
It was the first piece of writing I read from the Webzine <Kyeol>. Certain controversies arise with the issue of victimizing the ‘comfort women’ victims. However, this was exceedingly well organized in terms of the simple language and from the perspective of an activist.
- <정영환 X 박노자, an Online Discussion – ‘Comfort Women’ Issue from the Post-Division Perspective>
I want to recommend this as well. It gave fresh impetus to the topic so that the ‘comfort women’ issue, which typically is discussed from the Korean perspective, can also be viewed from the post-division perspective. However, it lacked a little depth because there was so much to cover. I feel that for a piece such as this, it would be best to separate each controversial issue and craft a special report.
- <Now/Here Inside and Outside of ‘Comfort Women’ Movies>
‘위안부'를 다루는 영화를 소개하고 비평하는 글도 좋았어요. 누군가에게 추천할 때 약간 마음에 걸리는 부분은 어려운 전문용어와 학술 이론이 많아서 해당 학문의 전공자가 아니면 이해하기 어려울 것 같아요.
● Japan’s Me Too Movement and the ‘Comfort Women’ Issue
● Remembering Kim Haksun
- <Now/Here Inside and Outside of ‘Comfort Women’ Movies>
It was the first one I looked at because the thumbnail was the poster of <Herstory>. I liked this movie so much that I went to a group screening of <Herstory>. I found this article to be really interesting due to the different perspectives it presented that differed from other articles that dealt with <Herstory>. It dealt, in an in-depth manner, with the meaning and limitations of the movie from the perspective of dealing with the ‘comfort women’ issues. This may make it a little heavy for some because of the depth of it. However, as it is already a well-known movie, I think it is a good recommendation for anybody who has never encountered the Webzine <Kyeol>.
- <Japan’s Me Too Movement and the ‘Comfort Women’ Issue>
It explained the feminism and backlash issue of Japan to ensure it could be easily digested. I have some experience of living in Japan, and unlike Korea, feminism is not visible in Japan, and that frustrated me greatly. There are many feminists, including myself, around me, and they will be very interested in this article.
- <Remembering Kim Haksun>
This article was really easy for me to immerse myself in due to the simple style. I never met Kim Haksun, but the testimonies about her have had a lasting impression on me. I think this article can be read by so many people, even if they have little interest in pop culture or feminism.
● Grandma’s Tomorrow – Interview of Kim Daewol Arts and Science Department Head at the House of Sharing
● The Measures Taken by the Korean Government on the Issue of the Comfort Women of the Japanese Military and the Prospects of the Countermeasures Regarding Any Unresolved Issues
- <Remembering Kim Haksun>
I was enthralled by the essays on the comfort women victims. When I was a student, I learned of the ‘comfort women’ as victims and deeply wounded people. Although everyone may be aware of the Japanese military sexual slavery issue, they do not know of it in-depth. Perhaps, people are not that interested in digging deeper either. So, by recommending essays such as <Remember Kim Haksun> it would be of great benefit to these people . It highlights the life of a person, and not simply a victim. If you learn of the lives of the affected people, then you may start to think about the ‘comfort women’ issue more naturally.
- <Grandma’s Tomorrow – Interview of Kim Daewol Arts and Science Department Head at the House of Sharing>
For similar reasons, I also liked this interview. In fact, I found some of the other articles to be very difficult. However, this interview to me was easy to read. I empathized with the use of the expression coming to work and going home after work for the victims’ activities. When I consider the ‘comfort women’ victims that I learned of from history textbooks, I was consumed by an infinite sadness and wanted to cry, as they were all dark stories that I wanted to avoid. However, from this article, I was able to view these brave old ladies as being the same grandmothers that we meet every day. It was at this point that I realized how much we had victimized these ladies.
- <The Measures Taken by the Korean Government on the Issue of the Comfort Women of the Japanese Military and the Prospects of the Countermeasures Regarding Any Unresolved Issues>
I used to go to the Wednesday Demonstrations, but after the Korea-Japan ‘Comfort Women’ Agreement in 2015, I stopped attending. The protest against the agreement intensified somewhat and I became scared by the rise in anger. The goal was to attend the demonstration pleasantly, at first, but over time it became burdensome and frightening. So, I have been avoiding sensitive issues. However, the Webzine <Kyeol> has superbly highlighted how the situation has unfolded since the Korea-Japan ‘Comfort Women’ Agreement. I was surprised as I have not seen such stories in detail anywhere else. I think it is essential now for the Webzine to continue to summarize these areas expertly.
Webzine <Kyeol> is Too Difficult?!
There are a number of opinions that propose that the contents of <Kyeol> is difficult overall. I would like to talk about this in more detail. In your opinion, what aspects have made the Webzine <Kyeol> difficult, including the length of the article, readability, phrase, etc.?
Overall, the substance is difficult. Especially, the articles that dealt with the ‘comfort women’ issue of other countries, such as Indonesia and the Philippines, etc. were difficult. I am particularly interested in modern and contemporary history, and thought that I was well informed, but even to me, it was difficult to fully comprehend the articles. Recently, a friend asked, “Korea was the colony of Japan, so why did the victims have to travel to different places?” This is a perfect example of the lack of background information that people have for the ‘comfort women’ issue. Under such a situation, the articles of the Webzine <Kyeol> must seem difficult to grasp. That does not mean that the entire context of the war must be explained. If you were to take that path, then it would become far to complex. What I think would be better is to create a consensus by focusing on the people who were victimized due to the war, rather than the presenting the background of the war.
The Japanese military ‘comfort women’ issue is renowned for being a difficult subject for people to consume easily from the start. Thus, the writing itself cannot be simple either. It is clear to me that valiant attempts have been made to make the topic more accessible, but the subject itself will always be difficult. So, in this sense, nothing can be done. It would be difficult to ascertain to what extent the readers’ varying levels of literacy should be accommodated. I think that the Webzine <Kyeol> cannot help but be shaped by the characteristics of an academic journal. However, it differs from the academic journal in that while reading an academic journal, you will attempt to study more if you do not understand certain aspects, but because the Webzine <Kyeol> is comprised of a range of specialties that focus on a single topic, then a wider variety of background knowledge is necessary. This makes it slightly more difficult to access. At the end, I think it is necessary to approach by segregating the target audience. Some aspects of the writing should approach the reader with greater expertise, and other writings should consider mass appeal and make it easier to read. Each article should have a different target reader.
Thank you very much for understanding some of the difficulties we face. (Laugh) From the editor’s point of view, it is really difficult to set the standard. Earlier, Lee Sangmi said that < Japan’s Me Too Movement and the ‘Comfort Women’ Issue> was comparatively easier to understand, but I think this writing, too, is not an easy piece. However, currently in Korea, there is a great deal of interest in feminism and as such, professional topics are being consumed by the public on a great scale, so the language in this article is more familiar compared to other pieces.
‘Category’ and ‘Compiling’
Since we have talked about the difficulty in the topics of the Webzine <Kyeol>, let’s change the subject and focus on something else. The webzine has certain concerns about two types of literacy. The first is text literacy, and the second is digital literacy. We have spent time considering the best way to set the standard for digital literacy, as much as text literacy. The Webzine <Kyeol> has lowered the use of literacy, comparatively, by using symbolic expressions used often online, but many of the readers still expressed the difficulty they faced in understanding. Did you guys have any difficulty in using the Webzine <Kyeol>?
It was hard for me. I am digitally-challenged, and until someone actually showed me, I did not know that I could view the category when I click the ‘hamburger’ symbol. Despite that, I didn’t find it inconvenient because there was a ‘All Articles’ button and I could easily choose the articles that I wanted to read.
I, also, don’t utilize digital information well, and thus can be classed as ‘old-fashioned’. But it was actually easier for me. The “Category” was well organized and the ‘Tag’ search function was also very good. Especially, it was good to see all the writings related to Kim Haksun in the “People” section.
I knew about the “Tag” search function, but I still didn’t use it. I have to actually know something before I can start the Tag search from within. (Laugh) But I still think it is a good function. I think it’ll be useful when there are topics that interest me, such as finding writings related to a specific movie, etc. I think its more likely that I will start to use “Tag” more than “Category” later on.
Nowadays, I get the impression that the past, present and the future are within the same generation. Someone captures a screen on his/her smartphone easily and highlights it using a smart-pen and post his/her writing on SNS, but some people have difficulty simply accessing the website. I think this gap is too wide. At the same time, I don’t even know who our readers are. It is highly likely that they are everywhere. Someone has to print to read, but others are happy to read on their mobile phone. (Laugh) I always spend time considering what the focus needs to be on.
What we wish for from the Webzine <Kyeol> in 2020
If there are any contents that you want to see from the Webzine <Kyeol>, what would they be? It would be nice if you could share the contents you would personally hope to see, without regards to the format of the content.
It would be nice to see more writings similar to <Grandma’s Tomorrow – Interview of Kim Daewol Arts and Science Department Head at the House of Sharing>. I think it was easily accessible for the public and also provides a meaningful message. Personally, I hope to see more writing that points out the problems of reenacting the ‘comfort women’ dichotomously, as either a girl or an elderly woman.
I think the Japanese military ‘comfort women’ issue is not simply a women’s issue but a problem for all humans. It would be nice to show an unobjectified person’s natural self, such as showing the daily life of an elderly ‘comfort women’. It may give a more natural expression if such aspects of life were displayed in images, although text is also fine, too. The images can encompass their natural appearances much better than any writing by any experts.
I think it is important to present a topic that would interest the readers. I personally think that any writings that deal with popular culture can attract the people’s interest. The ‘comfort women’ issue through the eyes of mass media, such as movies, is much easier for people to access. So, any writing on the issues of ‘comfort women’ presented through movies or mass media would be of great benefit to the people. But this is my personal aspiration. To be honest, you should continue to do what you are doing now. All will be resolved as you grow and include more content.
All will be resolved in the end… it is wonderful support.
I greatly admire the Research Institute on Japanese Military Sexual Slavery. I think covering the Japanese military ‘comfort women’ issue in Korea is like being in a war. The projects implemented by the government can easily become nationalistic. In this respect, it is clear that the Webzine <Kyeol> plays the political aspects well in the fierce battlefield and is progressing well. I hope that you have the courage to fight harder at the frontline. Never lose your courage.
I have something I want to say. When I talk with my friends, it became difficult to direct them to any one place if they had questions about the ‘comfort women’ issues. Now, I can say with confidence, turn your attention to the Webzine <Kyeol>. Just simply having this space is good for all of us.
Thank you very much for your opinions. Your encouragement means so much to me. On behalf of the Research Institute on Japanese Military Sexual Slavery and the editors of the Webzine <Kyeol>, we will continue to do our best to be a better Webzine <Kyeol> in 2020. We will now end the Readers Talk 2019. I already look forward to what stories will be shared at the Readers Talk next year. Thank you again for your time!
- Editorial Meeting – Part 1 – Sexual slavery: Approaches and Perspectives
Ahead of the publication of the webzine <Kyeol> of Research Institue on Japanese Military Sexual Slavery (RIJMSS), 10 editors gathered together to discuss the future of the webzine. At the two editorial symposiums held on January 31and February 25, 2019, discussions were held on the ways and limitations carried out on the issue of the ‘comfort women’ so far and the direction in which the webzine should move forward next.
- Editorial Conference Part II – How to connect with the public over the issue of the 'comfort women'
Kwon Myung-ah/Kim Heonju/So Hyun-suk/Yeo Sun-ju/Yoon Myung-sook/Lee Seon-i /Lim Hyung-wha/Jo Gyeonghee/Jeong Yongsuk/Heo Yun
the Editorial Team of the Webzine