The Apology

Korean ‘Grandma Gil’ was 13 years old. Filipino ‘Grandma Adela’ was 14. Chinese ‘Grandma Cao’, now in her 90’s, was also still young, when Japanese soldiers came to the girls’ homes and snatched them to serve as ‘comfort women’ for their troops.

The sexual slavery imposed by the Japanese army during World War II was systematic, affecting up to 200 000 women around East and Southeast Asia. However, The Apology isn’t a historical documentary, but a depiction of our contemporary society. The surviving women, today called ‘Grandmas’, are still demanding an apology and compensation from the Japanese government. In South Korea, weekly protests have been organized in front of the Japanese Embassy since the early 1990’s.

In addition to the wartime physical abuse, the women have suffered from shaming and suppression throughout their lives. Their stories have been largely omitted from history books. Gil has never been able to return to her home, an area claimed by North Korea after the war. In Japan, high-ranking politicians stick to their victim-shaming tactics, talking about ’comfort stations’ as necessary evils of war.

But the point isn’t just about righting a historical wrong – even though that is also important to these women. Grandma Gil talks of peace. How can societies build a peaceful future, if they refuse to see the victims of war crimes in their midst?

Marjo Pipinen / Translation: Liina Härkönen

Languages: English, Korean, Japanese, Chinese
Subtitles: English

  • Director: Tiffany Hsiung
  • Country: Canada
  • Year: 2016
  • Length: 104 min
  • Age limit: null
  • Cinematography: Tiffany Hsiung
  • Editing: Mary Stephen
  • Music: Lesley Barber
  • Production: Anita Lee / National Film Board of Canada


  • Cinema Artis, hall 2: Sunday 29.01 - 14:30