Comfort Women statue moves Blackburn Park

Brookhaven is relocating its Comfort Women statue, “Young Girl’s Statue for Peace,” from a more residential area of Brookhaven to Blackburn Park in the next few weeks.

“We want to better accommodate those who wish to visit the statue,” Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst said. “Blackburn Park will offer more space, more parking and a more accessible location for what is surely to become a landmark in our city.”

The statue was unveiled June 30 in Blackburn Park II, which is located along Blair Circle in a residential area with limited space. That neighborhood experienced increased traffic due to visitors to the statue.

Although Brookhaven wants to move the statue to Blackburn Park, they are still looking for an appropriate location within the park for the memorial.

Though the statue was unveiled amidst controversy from the Japanese community in Brookhaven, hundreds of people showed up for the ceremony on June 30. The ceremony focused on human rights, not the political issues.

“We are not politically motivated, and this is not about Korea against Japan,” said Baik Kyu Kim, a member of the Atlanta Comfort Women Task Force.

The memorial was built to honor the Comfort Women of World War II. It recognizes and bring educational awareness to the danger and injustice of human trafficking both worldwide and locally. But the Japanese community said it fears it will promote discrimination.

About 11 people spoke up at the last Brookhaven city council meeting against erecting the memorial. Some said there was not enough primary evidence to back up the city’s claims that the Comfort Women were enslaved by Japanese Imperial Armed Forces during World War II.

“You are inserting yourself in the middle of an international dispute between Japan and South Korea,” Tony Marano said at the meeting.

But most said they were afraid for the discrimination this memorial might cause against the Japanese community.

“It’s clear that these [statues] are used to be anti-Japan. It contributes hatred toward a specific nationality and is not memorializing women who suffered,” Yoshie Brandt said at the meeting. “I do not want our community to be divided. I’m afraid this statue will bring bullying to Japanese-American children.”

At the ceremony on June 30, however, no one spoke out against the statue. Kang Il-chul, a Comfort Women survivor, spoke about her experience.

“I was one of those girls and people who were dragged by the Japanese military like a dog or animal, not like a person,” she said. “I am deeply grateful for what you are doing in the United States to recognize this history. I will have this gratitude until the day I pass away.”

At the end of the ceremony, Mayor John Ernst again said the statue is not supposed to raise questions about political issues.

“This is a human rights issue,” he said. “We’re all one people.”