NGO statement to the Second Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW
Panel discussion on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons
Delivered by Kee-youl Lee, first generation of Korean victim
Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea (SPARK)
The Voices of Korean Atomic Bomb Victims
We really appreciate the presentations and a chance to discuss how to uphold the prohibition on nuclear weapons. Being a Korean Hibakusha myself, I would find it important to seek to include the experience of Korean A-bomb victims, which has not been included as much in the body of research and policies.
The number of Koreans exposed to the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 is estimated to be approximately 70,000 to 100,000, with about 50,000 death. Most of the Korean victims were forced laborers under the Japanese rule. After liberation, about 43,000 survivors returned to their hometowns in Korea, but many of them died suffering from the effects of the atomic bomb amid the indifference and discrimination of the Korean government and society. In a sense, Korean atomic bomb victims are threefold victims of the U.S. atomic bombings, Japan's colonial rule, and the neglect of the Korean government.
I was a five-month-old baby when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Even after seventy-eight years have passed, my body still remembers the horrors of that day in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I frequently wake up from the nightmares. I am seventy-nine years old this year, the youngest among the 1800 first-generation victims who are still alive today. How much longer can I live? The only thing I want most before I die is to hear, “The atomic bombings were wrong. Sorry for what we did to the victims.”
If the U.S., which bears the original sin, admits and apologizes for the responsibilities of the atomic bombings in 1945, no country will ever contemplate using nuclear weapons. This is why I am participating as a plaintiff in the International People's Tribunal to hold the U.S. accountable for dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
As a survivor of the atomic bomb, I will strive to create a peaceful world without war and nuclear weapons for future generations. I must do whatever it takes to prevent the Korean people from becoming victims of nuclear weapons again. I believe that this is my lifelong calling, having lived a painful life carrying the fate of the victims for a lifetime.
I would also like to share the story of Han Jeong-soon, a Korean atomic bomb 2nd-generation victim. Her mother was exposed to the atomic bomb in Hiroshima while pregnant, and her son, who was a fetal victim, died a year after he was born. The six siblings she gave birth to after that were all unhealthy
Han Jeong-soon, the fifth child, had weak legs since she was a child, and in her 20s, she could no longer walk, sit, or stand properly due to pain in her legs. Her misfortune did not end there. After getting married, she gave birth to her first child, who was born with cerebral palsy.
Han Jeong-soon has undergone 12 surgeries in her lifetime, all from various other diseases. The cause of all these diseases is nothing but being born to parents who were exposed to radiation. Atomic bombs have lasting genetic impacts on people. However, she is not even recognized as a victim of the atomic bomb. The U.S. must listen to the voices of the second generation of atomic bomb victims.
Five Korean atomic bomb victims, first and second generations, are participating in this event. Please listen to the voices of the Korean atomic bomb victims and support and participate in the International People's Tribunal to hold the U.S. accountable for dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Dreaming of a beautiful world! Anti-War, Anti-Nuclear, Peace!