Korean-American poet Emily Jung-min Yoon met the press on Thursday at Press Center located in Seoul’s Jung District to celebrate the launch of her book called “A Cruelty Special to Our Species: Poems.” Yoon flew in to Seoul, but the conference was held virtually as she was self-isolating due to COVID-19. First published in 2018 by HarperCollins, a large publishing company in the United States, the book received a great deal attention by telling the stories of violence and cruelty found in human history through the voice of a minority in the United States.
What about comfort women drew the attention of the writer who was born in the 1990s, moved to Canada when she was an elementary school student and studied in the United States? “I always thought that comfort women issues were an appalling part of history, but it was even more appalling that many people around me knew nothing about it,” said the 29-year-old poet. “I decided to write poetry about them after mulling over how I could share our forgotten and damaged history and strengthen solidarity as a minority in the United States.”
Although most of the references she used were testimonies of comfort women, Yoon said she did not want her book to be categorized as anti-Japanese. She said in the preface that her book also addresses toxic masculinity, militarism, imperialism, wars, racism and the pain caused by words even though it centers around stories of comfort women.