2nd ForumMemorial Addresses for the Memorial Ceremony for Korean A-bomb Victims (Japan, June 2024)

Memorial Addresses for the Memorial Ceremony for Korean A-bomb Victims (Japan, June 2024)


  • Jin-tae Shim (Head of Hapcheon Branch, Korea Atomic Bombs Victim Association)


Our history, passed down through generations, in the splendid land of Korea. Oh, departed souls, tossed around in a dark night’s fierce winds and history’s gales to your deaths in a foreign country by the United States’ atomic bomb, how have you known even a moment of rest in the 79 years since.

My parents and I were exposed to radiation here in Ebamachi, but miraculously survived. Today, I stand before the spirits feeling a survivor’s sorrow. As the Head of the Hapcheon branch of the Korea Atomic Bomb Victim Association, I have spent 20 years working and learning more than anyone else about the victims’ suffering in poverty and sickness. As there was nowhere to stay after the dropping of the atomic bomb, they had to return to their homeland, but the cold weather prevented them from boarding the boat, forcing them to wait for over two weeks at the dock. There were also those who tried using their own boats, but who were met with winds and waves too strong to keep them alive. Those who remained in their hometowns and thought their relatives were killed by the atomic bomb must have been so happy to see them return safely. 

But after a few days, those who returned suffered too. There were radiation patients in hospitals without medicine, who couldn’t receive treatment and so passed away. There were also those who passed without ever being cured from their lasting scars. The average age of the surviving victims is 85 years old, and as I witness these difficult circumstances there is no way to suppress my sorrow. Furthermore, my heart hurts to think of the reality that is the victims’ children’s suffering from experiencing genetic issues from radiation.

Despite this situation, the US, who dropped the atomic bomb, has yet to even mention the victims, let alone apologize or provide compensation to them. I declare before the spirits that, as the first country to deploy atomic bombs, the United States must promptly abolish them and lead the way to world peace.

In addition, Japan invaded Korea in a frenzy of war and forcibly exploited Korea’s people and resources, leading to many Koreans dying on the battlefield and toiling in munitions factories. It is fact that poverty has been passed down, and that people have not received enough education and have lived in suffering their whole lives. Even today, after a century has passed, there has been no apology for peace. I hope that Japan does not become a stumbling block in achieving world peace.

Our land was split in two due to the Japanese colonial era and the Korean War, but with rapid economic development, it has grown into a self-reliant nation ranking in the top 10 in the world. As a country governed by the rule of law whose legislation is well enforced, as a country that considers every person’s life as precious, it is clear that failing to protect citizens who have been marginalized as victims of war, even 80 years after liberation from Japanese invasion, is a blatant neglect of duty.

May the souls of the 50,000 victims killed by the atomic bomb in Japan find peace as their spirits, at least, are laid to rest in the homeland they missed so much. May they rest in peace.

  • Tae-Jae Lee (Chairman of the Association of Descendants of Korean Atomic Bomb Victims)

Everywhere you look in Hiroshima in June

there are colorful flowers and green leaves.

Every blooming flower, every budding leaf is a Korean victim of the atomic bomb, killed by a bomb of hatred.

Our hearts ring loudly with sorrow for

The people who became casualties to the atomic bomb

Who must have bloomed into these flowers and grown into these leaves.

The 100,000-plus Korean atomic bomb victims, more than 10% of the total number of victims, who settled in this country, on this foreign land, were innocent pawns of policy and victims of forced labor and forced conscription.

Even now, when I stand here, it’s like I can feel the victims’ struggles and cries, and the torture that they suffered.

As we bear this weary pain,

And gaze at the colorful flowers,

We can feel in each of our hearts that the souls who became victims to the atomic bomb

have bloomed into flowers.

Just when

Will the souls of the Korean atomic bomb victims

Sacrificed here in the foreign land of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan,

be able to return to their homeland of Korea??

Just when

Will the many victims of the atomic bomb

Receive an apology and reparations from

The perpetrators, who have yet to say even a single word??

There are still about 1,700 Korean atomic bomb victims alive in Korea, and the 3,150 members of the Association of Korean Atomic Bomb Victims are keeping watch over them.

To everyone here bowing their heads and grieving for the atomic bomb victims, we, the Association of Descendants of Korean Atomic Bomb Victims, are waiting for the day that will wipe away our blood and tears, the day when a special law protecting the rights and interests of the second and third generation of descendants, who are living in torture and sickness, will be amended and enacted in full.

I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere gratitude for the great interest, support, and infinite love the Association of Descendants of Atomic Bomb Victims has received.

Like the beautiful blooming June flowers, and the brilliant green leaves,

I hope that this occasion remains in our memory

So that we can all, as humans, live a happy life.

  • Okubo Ken-ichi (President of the Japan Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms)

On this occasion of memorial service, as a Japanese participant, I would like to offer a few words of greeting.

My father served as a soldier in the Japanese Imperial Army and fought on the Chinese mainland. This father of mine told me “War is the one thing you must never do.” I do not know if my father has committed acts that he could not tell me about.

My mother once told me “When the atomic bomb dropped, the people who were just waiting for the bank to open died, leaving only a shadow on the stone.” This is portrayed in the museum’s exhibition “Person Shadow Stone.”

When I heard this I was gripped with an indescribable sense of horror. This is the horror of having one's everyday life snatched away in an instant by an unstoppable force.

I believe it is because I am the child of my father and mother that I want to create a world without war or nuclear weapons.

I’ll tell one more story. My elementary school teacher called me when I became a lawyer.

“My child wants to marry a Korean person. Is there any way to stop them?” is what my teacher told me. I was surprised. I was shocked at how deeply the mentality of discrimination against Koreans had permeated Japanese people.

I thought that I must not forget that this is the kind of environment that I am living in.

But our Japanese Anti-Nuclear Weapon Law Association has, for the past 8 years, exchanged ideas with people from the Republic of Korea, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, China, and more surrounding the theme of “For the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Our sense of the issue comes from the idea that nuclear war must absolutely never occur on the Korean peninsula, and to achieve that, it is necessary not only to focus on the 'North Korean nuclear issue' alone. I believe we were able to have a lot of meaningful discussion, but the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula has yet to be realized.

Furthermore, currently Russia and Israel are using threats of nuclear weapons alongside engaging in aggressive wars and genocide. The UN Secretary General Guterres is warning that the threat of nuclear war is escalating more than ever before.

The threat of nuclear war is not limited to just the Korean peninsula, but is spreading to the entire world. In spite of the fact that everyone knows what nuclear weapons will bring upon humanity, the escalating threat of nuclear war is truly an abnormal situation.

Beyond this, the primary reason is that nuclear-armed states and nuclear-reliant states claim that “nuclear weapons are tools to deter attacks from adversaries.”

The nuclear deterrence theory, which posits that nuclear weapons are tools of national security, is precisely what is engendering the risk of nuclear war. Oppenheimer, known as the “father of the atomic bomb,” realized himself that nuclear weapons are “...death, the destroyer of worlds.” Proponents of nuclear deterrence seek to entrust the fate of the Earth to this 'grim reaper' of weapons.

No one has guaranteed that nuclear deterrence will not fail. The “catastrophic end of humanity” of such failure is exactly what the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons aims to prevent.

We must move beyond this nuclear deterrence theory, and also create another memorial for the victims of atomic bombings. However, in doing so, we may face a situation where there are no longer people to erect such memorials for.

The fundamental method to prevent such a situation is to abolish nuclear weapons. What is required for this is to change the nuclear weapon policies of the U.S. government and civil society.

I believe that the only thing Korea victims of atomic bombings and their supporters can do, whether it contributed to the decolonization of Korea or not, is to appeal to the U.S. government and civil society that the use of nuclear weapons, which is both inhumane and in violation of international humanitarian law, should never be allowed.

This verse states that the “Korean people, through the Pacific War, keenly felt the sorrow of being without a country, and its climax was the tragedy of the atomic bombings.”

As a descendant of Japanese people who engaged in colonial rule and aggressive war, I will strive to never forget my origins as I stand in solidarity with the people of Korea and do my best to work towards achieving a world without nuclear weapons or wars.

Everyone, let’s all do our best together.

Thank you.

  • Kim Kapsong (Korean American Community Development Director)

I am from the United States, the country that dropped the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima. And I am one of the 2,000,000 Koreans living in the United States. The US currently has 5044 nuclear warheads. Globally, there are over 12,000 nuclear warheads. The nuclear weapons that led you to your deaths are increasing again after 35 years. This is under our responsibility as the living. Unfortunately, our country is also armed with nuclear weapons, or they are bragging ridiculously about how powerful the US nuclear umbrella is while threatening each other. This is why we haven’t been able to break down the wall of division after 71 years. Nuclear weapons cannot be a means of defense. It is merely a tool of destruction. The country who first developed and is the only country to have used a nuclear weapon, the US, has a government that has yet to recognize its wrongdoing even after 79 years.

Even after unnecessarily using nuclear weapons and causing the deaths of tens of thousands of people, the US hides behind the name of “war” and is increasing their nuclear weapons with no sign of reflection on their past. Without repentance, there cannot be a world free of nuclear weapons. Let us first repent for failing to block the nuclear weapons in the first place. We will work hard for a nuclear weapon free world. This is the only way we can honor your memory. Koreans living in the US will also raise their flags. We will fight for peace and denuclearization together with the US and the rest of the world. This is the first time I’ve ever set foot in Japan. I came here for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I am an American citizen. As an American citizen I acknowledge the US’ wrongdoing, and I will take the hands of more and more Americans and lead them here to apologize to you all.

A world without war is still but a dream. Even now, countless people are suffering through war. There are over 110 million refugees worldwide due to war and poverty. My heart is heavy. Still, I will never give up on peace. We will remember and honor you all forever and march forward towards peace. I truly believe that a good world will come.

  • Chang-Seob Lee (Youth Member of Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea)

Hello everyone, we are the youth members of SPARK.

I honor all the souls that vanished from this place on August 6, 1945. I also extend words of comfort to the survivors who have endured physical and social suffering throughout their lives. Under the pretext of reducing casualties from their own country, the United States dropped the atomic bomb here in Hiroshima, making this place the site of the most horrific massacre in human history.

In later years, the Allied nations justified these deaths and sacrifices as necessary for the swift conclusion of the war, and following the establishment of the Cold War regime, it has been regarded as inevitable. Whether it be the North or South, or the ideologies of the Cold War, the responsible parties have completely shirked their responsibility for this issue. No authority or power wiped away their tears.

The blame for the remaining sorrow lay solely on individuals.

The past me was also unaware of these facts, knowing only that the atomic bomb was associated with liberation and considering it

In the past, I too was unaware of these facts, knowing only that the atomic bomb was associated with liberation and considering it a justified act. I did not know of the existence of the Korean atomic bomb victims who suffered two-fold, three-fold from Japan’s colonial rule and the United States’ atomic bombing. Although it’s late, I seek forgiveness here for my past mistakes.

To raise awareness of this historical truth and tragedy, we conducted a campaign within the university to inform people about the Korean atomic bomb victims. A total of 100 youths participated, and wrote words and created origami expressing their heartfelt tribute to the victims of the atomic bombings.

Lastly, so that people’s awareness prevents another tragedy like this from occurring again, we will raise awareness with the people around us. And us youth, on the Korean peninsula where the risk of nuclear war is heightened by division and a new cold war, will take the lead in achieving denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and strive towards a world without nuclear weapons.

  • Yong-han Bae (Member of Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea)

79 years ago, for the first time in the history of mankind, a nuclear bomb was dropped here in Hiroshima. We grieve for the spirits that have passed away as a result of cruelty indescribable in any language. I offer my deepest condolences to their families and descendants.

We grieve for the spirits of the Korean victims, who had lost their countries, left their motherland and hometown, and were living in toil to leave this world in torture. We oppose nuclear weapons in the name of humanity. We condemn the United States for the indiscriminate killing of innocent people 79 years by way of dropping nuclear weapons.

At that time in 1945, my mother was living here in Hiroshima with her family. My mother, at the young age of 12, witnessed the horrors of Hiroshima herself. Thankfully, she did not suffer from physical injuries.

My entire family, both my mother’s and father’s side, are from Hapcheon. I was born in Hapcheon in 1952. Now that I think about it, my mother was in her twenties when I was a child. I have memories of her telling me all kinds of stories, but not once did she tell me anything about the horrors of Hiroshima, not when I was a child nor after I became an adult. I always lived without knowing anything. Even when my mother was recognized as a victim of the atomic bombing and frequented the Hapcheon Atomic Bomb Victim Welfare Center, I didn’t give it a second thought.

I lived a long time thinking, “Our country was liberated from Japanese colonial rule because the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Japan, forcing them to surrender during World War II.” It hasn’t been long since I’ve taken a genuine interest in the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan’s Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Even now, I do not clearly understand the truth. I can only vaguely guess the pain that my mother held in her heart.

A long 79 years has passed, but I can see from my mother that the Hiroshima, Nagasaki nuclear bombs are still causing harm. Oh, the spirits who lost their country and died in despair on the land of their oppressor! Today we, in front of the spirits, offer our condolences by pledging our resolve.  

The spirits who lived in the sorrow of losing their country, even after unjustly passing away, faced discrimination for a long time. The Korean victims who experienced harm then, the descendants of the deceased, and the other Koreans living in Japan are still not completely free from discrimination. Now, another tragedy where victims have to live while holding their breath should never again occur in human history.   

In order to turn the page on this tragedy of human history, the spirits must be able to rest in peace. The spirits will be hoping that the pain that you experienced will never again be repeated. The spirits will be praying that the horrors that arose from the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 will never again happen anywhere in the world.

The gravity of the US’ wrongdoing, of killing innocent lives with nuclear bombs, must be revealed and the US must clearly be held accountable for this. An international people’s tribunal that will do just this will be opened. To prepare for the People’s Tribunal, we will open the Second International Forum tomorrow, here in Hiroshima.

From the Korean peninsula, where there is the highest nuclear risk on the planet, we will first achieve denuclearization and advance autonomy, peace, and reunification by adopting a peace agreement. Furthermore, we will not stop at holding the US accountable but instead create a world where all of humanity’s descendants are free from the horror of nuclear weapons. We will make it so that all life on earth can live peacefully. All of us gathered here today will take the lead and unite the people of the world to create a world without nuclear weapons, a world without war, and a world where all life enjoys peace.    

May you all rest in peace!