C soco  (Venue 348)
3 stars ***

OF ALL THE stories of sexual abuse and trafficking told on this year’s Fringe, none is more tragic than the history of the Korean “comfort women” who were forced, during the Second World War, to service the needs of the Imperial Japanese Army.  Tricked into leaving their homes, imprisoned, ill-treated, and raped thousands of times, these women not only endured a shocking wartime ordeal, but then lived through four decades of silence, during which a culture of shame about what had happened to them forbade them even to speak of it.

Haerry Kim’s solo show – written and performed by herself – is inspired by the courage of the first “comfort women” to speak out, back in the 1990’s.  Spoken in the voice of one of these women, who seeks to exorcise the ghosts of the past by drawing the faces of former “comfort women” she encounters at meetings, it presents the story of a typical abduction and rape, reflects on the postwar experience of the women, and features some wonderful visual imagery projected on a screen behind her still figure; images of sea and land, and of the women’s faces drawn in charcoal or pencil, lined, beautiful, magnificently feminine.  As a piece of theatre, the show lacks energy; there’s no sense of a real and necessary dramatic relationship between the speaker and the audience.  But it has weight, and dignity, and a vital story to tell; and many of the audience, on the night I saw it, were moved to tears.

Joyce McMillan
Until 30 August
p. 249

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