『Flutter, Flutter, Butterfly』
–Age 15. Abused by thousands of soldiers, Based on a True Story
“Women suffer sexual harassment and assault in daily life. During War times, it is even worse. The novel 『Flutter, Flutter, Butterfly』 is about teenage girls who forced to be a sex slave during World War II. Some parts of the story are unbelievably cruel but they are all based on the victims’ interviews. This book is not to accuse of a war crime that Japan did to those poor girls but to prevent such a thing from happening again in human history. I ask my friends for giving your attention to this novel and for supporting those brave girls speaking out their stories who are now in their age of 90s.”
『Flutter, Flutter, Butterfly』: Based on a history of Japanese forced prostitution during the Second World War.
One of the worst cases of sex slavery is from an unlikely place and time: Japan…the Second World War. Different estimates say between 20,000 and 400,000 women from all over Asian were forced into prostitution to “comfort” the soldiers.
This fiction book gives the often forgotten history of how it happened, who was involved, how they were treated, and the apology that came years later.
『Flutter, Flutter, Butterfly』 is a based on a history of Japanese forced prostitution during the Second World War novel written by Mihee Eun, a Korean novelist. It was originally published by Dorrance Publishing in September 2017.
Mihee was awarded the Samsung Literature Award in 2001 for People in Columbarium, which is a novel of poor peoples’ lives at an inn in a small town and the Korea Women’s Literature Award by the The Academic Society of Feminism and Korean Literature.
Mihee’s book takes place in the during the World War II. An fifteen-year-old Korean girl, Soonboon, who was forced into sex slavery by the Japanese Army during the World War II.
One of the worst cases of sex slavery is from an unlikely place and time: Different estimates say between 20,000 and 400,000 women from all over Asian were forced into prostitution to “comfort” the soldiers.
『Flutter, Flutter, Butterfly』 gives the often forgotten history of how it happened, who was involved, how they were treated, and the apology that came years later.
The main character, Soonboon, was a 15 year old girl who dreamed of meeting a kind husband, having children, and living happily ever after. one spring day when virgin birth rumors were common, Soonboon was met by a butterfly while bringing snacks to her parents who were working in the fields. Worried that their daughter might be taken away, her parents hid her all day in a haystack. However, she was discovered and dragged away by a Japanese soldier when she came out from the haystack in order to chase a butterfly.
Soonboon was sent to a police station and then put on a train and then a ship, both for the first time in her life. There she met Kumok, Bongnyu, and many other young girls who were in a similar position. None of them knew where they were being taken. While they were being transported to the comfort station the young girls witnessed Japanese soldiers using swords to kill young girls, drowning others in the sea, and taking girls away to commit sex crimes.
The girls only found out where they were being taken when they arrived at the comfort station. There they were raped countless times by numerous men every night. Whenever Soonboon was humiliated by soldiers, she met a white butterfly. She desperately wished that the butterfly she used to play with would take her back to her hometown, and she daydreamed about flying around the world. Butterflies were special to Soonboon as they were her only way to find some type of escape the hellish brothel.
When a girl conceived a child, her uterus was pulled out while she was awake and the child was taken out. When it was discovered that one girl had transmitted a syphilis to a soldier, her pubic area was burned with a steel rod so that her flesh peeled away. Some girls were given opium so they could forget their pains for a while.
Soonboon and Bongnyu attempted to escape, but unfortunately they were recaptured. In order to save Soonboon’s life, Bongnyu was forced to roll between a nail board filled with nails and an iron plate studded with nails. Her flesh was torn into pieces and she died. The other girls were given meat soup a few days later, not realizing that it was made with Bongnyu’s body.
Unable to forget the pain they were put through, some girls committed suicide. All girls had to take strong antibiotic drugs to prevent them from being infected with STDs, which shrunk their uteruses and made them sterile. They lived their lives day after day, knowing that they would never be able to bear children. Kumok died a gruesome death, committing suicide after becoming addicted to opium. By the war’s end Soonboon was the only survivor.
Soonboon dearly wanted to go back to her hometown. She missed her parents, and dyeing her fingernails with the balsam flower petals that her father had planted under the fence. But she was a disgraced woman and a polluted body, and she could never go home again. Soonboon decided to float around the world with the butterfly and find a place where no one knew her. Until her final days on earth she would live like a flower petal in the spring breeze, floating around the world.
In the world, there are many uncomfortable truths. Truths that are covered up and hidden in hopes that they will fade and be forgotten. Wherever we go, everybody avoids talking about this reality. Whenever the topic is brought up, people become uneasy and uncomfortable.
As a result, lies are told and false histories are taught to future generations. No matter how uncomfortable and embarrassing the past is, we must remember it and learn from past mistakes so that history never repeats itself.
In this story we see an example of an uncomfortable truth. A young girl, at the blossoming age of 15, was forced into sex slavery by the Japanese Army. Her life was disrupted and she found herself deserted merely because she was born at a time when Chosun(Korea) was a weak country.
Through no fault of her own the girl was born in the wrong era and the wrong country, and her fate was miserable. The girl lived her life in seclusion, receiving only piercing glares from those around her. And this is only one case – tens of thousands of gray-haired women still haven’t received any consolation or compensation, after having lived in pain for their entire lives.
These women are still suffering and protesting, “We do not ask for money, we want an apology! A sincere apology!” The apology came years years later after most those women passed away.
The publishing project for 『Flutter, Flutter, Butterfly』 had been fundraised through the kickstarter but it did not happened to succeed the fundraising.
『Flutter, Flutter, Butterfly』: Age 15. Abused by thousands of soldiers. Dorrance. 2017. p. 175. ISBN 978-1-4809-4114-4.
A real truth about a 15-year-old ‘comfort woman’. Dorrance. 2017. p.175. ISBN 978-1-4809-4114-4.
Flutter Flutter Butterfly Book Club (2016). Book Publishing Project
Flutter, Flutter, Butterfly