Ahn Sehong


Contemporary Photographers


The term “comfort women” is one of those ugly euphemisms used to hide the nasty reality behind it: During World War 2, Japan employed “very large numbers of forced labourers to work in its wartime mines and factories. In the Japanese case, a particularly dark aspect of this coercion was the forcible recruitment of women who were held in so-called ‘comfort stations’ and subjected to rape and other forms of sexual abuse at the hands of the Japanese military.” (source) So we’re talking about forced prostitution, sexual slavery here. This topic has remained hugely contentious, in particular since the Japanese government has been more than hesitant to deal with this part of the country’s past (this phrases it rather mildly). Photographer Ahn Sehong has portrayed some of these women who are still alive in Layer by Layer. Earlier this year, Nikon, the Japanese camera maker, announced it was going to cancel an exhibition of the work in Tokyo. This created a stir in the photo community; you might have seen, for example, Duckrabbit’s post. The Tokyo District Court has now ordered Nikon to open the exhibition (source), and you can find a report by someone who went to see it at the inimitable Microcord blog.