Special Report

Director: Cho Jung-rae
Genre: Drama
Starring: Kang Ha-na, Choi Ri
Running time: 127 min

This movie is for all the young girls who really missed the comfort of their mothers’ arms when they were in hellish places. The meaning of Spirit’s Homecoming is “trampled flowers,” which has the same meaning as teenage girls who want to go back to their hometowns but only go back to their hometowns as ghosts.Spirit’s Homecoming is based on the true story of Kang Il-chul who was forced to be a sex slave for the Imperial Japanese Army during the 1940s when she was only sixteen years old.

The story goes back and forth from past to present. In 1943, Jung-min is 14 years old, just a normal, little girl. However, one day Imperial Japanese soldiers hauled Jung-min and other little girls away to “comfort facilities” near the Peony River. There, Jung-min and the other girls suffered horrible abuse from the Imperial Japanese Army. Finally, Jung-min and some of the other girls ran away from the comfort facilities.

In 1991, Eun-kyung lost everyone in her family except her mother in an accident, then she and her mother visited a female shaman. Eun-kyung stayed and worked at the shaman’s house. One day, Young-hee who suffered with Jung-min in the Japanese comfort facilities asked Eun-kyung to bring Jung-min’s spirit home.

Spirit’s Homecoming has a unique production process. The production company didn’t have enough money to make this movie, so they decided to use crowd funding to get the money. Crowd funding was set up through the official production website, ARS, and Internet websites such as Daum. As a result, they got 1.2 billion won, which was over 50% of the production cost, from 7 million people including foreigners on January 2016. The production company decided to insert the names of the sponsors in the ending credits. Because military sexual slavery is an important issue, especially in Korea, Spirit’s Homecoming had over one million viewers in Korea. The film will also be released in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The director of this movie, Cho Jung-rae, said, “We have to memorialize the comfort women issue for future peace and no more victims of war.” This movie appeased the soul of a young girl who was stripped of her human rights by the war and militarism. Unlike Germany, the modern day Japanese government hasn’t given a sincere apology to the living victims. Instead the Japanese government argued that comfort women were not forced, rather they volunteered to be sex slaves. The film didn’t criticize the Japanese government. Instead it aims to memorialize the tragedy caused by the Japanese Army and send the message that history cannot be repeated.

We shouldn’t say the comfort women issue is in the past or it may become the future for some. Today, only a small number of victims are still alive. I hope this movie keeps people interested in the history of sex slaves of the Imperial Japanese Army so no more people become victims of human rights violations.