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Opening Date
16 Aug 2018
PG13 Some Coarse Language
121 mins
Korean with English & Chinese subtitles
Min Gyoo-Dong
Kim Hee-Ae, Kim Hae- Sook, Ye Soo-Jung, Moon Sook, Lee Yong-Nyeo
Based on the inspiring true story of the women in the "Gwanbu Trial". Moon
Jeong-suk (Kim Hee-ae) is a hard-hearted successful businesswoman
who is initially indifferent to the women of an anti sex-slavery movement. But she has a change of heart when she discovers an old friend's past as a comfort woman for the Japanese during World War II. This sparks Moon's determination to seek justice for 10 former comfort women, beginning an uphill legal battle against the Japanese government that lasted six years.
By Say Peng  16 Aug 2018
Herstory is a dramatisation of the Shimonoseki trials that took place from 1992 to 1998, and is one of the most moving and poignant Korean films I’ve seen this year.
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During World War 2, the Imperial Japanese army kidnapped women and girls and forced them into sexual slavery. They were labelled as comfort women. The majority of them came from China and Korea. Many of them died. Those who survived became infertile due to sexual trauma or sexually transmitted diseases. Since the end of the war, it had been an uphill battle to get the Japanese government to admit to its involvement and to properly compensate the victims. The 23 hearings that is now called the Shimonoseki trials that took place from 1992 to 1998 is one of those battles.

Directed by Min Kyu-dong (The Treacherous, 2015), Herstory is a dramatisation of the Shimonoseki trials. The film stars Kim Hee-Ae and the veteran actress Kim Hae-sook, respectively, as businesswoman Moon Jung-Sook and her housekeeper Bae Jung-Kil.

In an attempt to turn around her failing scandal-hit tour business (ironically, because part of her tour packages include taking tourists to red-light districts), the headstrong and straight-talking Moon decides that her company needs to renew its image and decides to partake in pro bono efforts to encourage comfort women to come forward to share their stories. Things became personal for Moon when, to her horror, she discovers that her long-time housekeeper Bae was, too, a comfort woman.

Mustering all her efforts, Moon tries to encourage as many comfort women as possible to come forward and tell their stories. This is especially difficult because, even in their own country, these women receive no sympathy and are perceived to be prostitutes. The women themselves are ashamed of their past. But slowly, galvanised by Moon, Bae and three other women who have come forward decide that the first step towards closure and healing is for the Japanese government to admit to, and apologise for, their actions.

With the help of a team of pro bono Japanese lawyers, Moon, Bae, and the women head to the Japanese port city of Shimonoseki, where the elongated trials with the Japanese government begin.

Assuredly directed and superbly well acted, avoiding the seductive pitfalls of melodrama, as well as balancing a sense of outrage with a clear-eyed historical perspective, Herstory is one of the most moving and poignant Korean films I’ve seen this year, and I encourage everyone to watch it.
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