Mun Pil-gi

Mun Pil-gi (1925 – 2008)
born in Jinyang, Gyeongsang-do, South Korea


© Tsukasa Yajima

Born as a girl, Mun Pil-gi’s father did not allow her to go to school. From the age of nine, she kept the house, farmed, picked cotton, turned the spinning wheel and weaved. A Korean man working as an agent for the Japanese military in her village promised to send her to a place where she could study and make money. As she had a big desire to study, she secretly left her parents and followed the agent. It was in 1943, at her age of eighteen. From then, her life as a sexual slave of the Japanese military started at the Changchun “comfort station” in Manchuria. Right after the surrender of Japan, the Soviet military marched in and forced sexual slavery; but Mun Pil-gi secretly ran away and finally arrived at Seoul after walking day and night from Manchuria through Pyeongyang and Gaeseong. In 1992, after she heard the testimonies of the elderly survivors of the Japanese military sexual slavery on television, she courageously brought out her fateful experiences in front of the public with dignity.

Mun Pil-gi was a quiet woman with a charming mild smile. Only a few years ago, she sang with such joy that people even said, “Singing means Mun Pil-gi”. This song is one of her favorites, which she sang in a soft and low voice, lying on her side while saying that she has no more energy to sing.

Cry, Guitar String! (1955)

Compostition: Yi Chaeho
Lyrics: Mu Jeokin
Vocal: Son Inho

© Joshua D. Pilzer 

A strange foreign land, that night, that young man
Such a thing that makes me unable to forget.
A love strung along a guitar’s string, a wanderer’s love
Cry, oh guitar, oh my guitar…