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KIM Iljo(KIM Iljo) 
Gender Female  Age at time of bombing 16 
Recorded on 2013.11.25  Age at time of recording 85 
Location at time of bombing Hiroshima(Direct exposure Distance from the bombing hypocenter:3.0km) 
Location when exposed to the bombing Eba-machi, Hiroshima City [Current Naka-ku, Hiroshima City] 
Status at time of bombing Home worker 
Occupational status at time of bombing  
Hall site Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims 
Dubbed in English/
With English subtitles
With English subtitles 

KIM Iljo, then 16. Exposed to the atomic bombing in Eba-machi, about 3 kilometers from the hypocenter. At the Shooting Range where she took refuge, she saw people so badly burned she couldn't   tell if they were male or female. They begged for water before they died. Discriminated against as a "Korean" in Japan, she returned to Korea where she had a difficult time with language and cultural barriers. "We must not fight. We have to cooperate and help each other," she says.
【Life through Elementary School】
My parents had gone to Japan during the Taisho Period (1912-1926). I was very little when we moved to Hiroshima. Many people from Hapcheon had come to Hiroshima, lived together, and invited their siblings and relatives to follow them. Many Koreans from Hapcheon had come to live in Hiroshima, so we called Hiroshima Hapcheon two and Hapcheon, where we are now, Hiroshima two.
I went to Eba Elementary School. In those days, the nation was under a ration system for food and other basic necessities. Times were hard even for the Japanese. We could only eat what the government decided we could have - we were always very hungry. In that environment, my parents were running a grocery store in Eba for Korean people. In Korea, dry salted cod roe, wakame and octopus are customarily served at memorial services. The foods needed for memorial services were not available except at my parents' dry goods store. There was no other grocery store for Koreans. Because my parents ran a business and bought rice on the black market, our life was not that bad. We were happy living in Japan.
We became Japanese in 1940. My father became Kinjiro Matsumoto. Mother and the rest of us changed our names, too. My older sister was Kimiko, my name was Kimiyo and my younger sister was Fumiko. We had those from birth--only our last name changed. Then, we were completely Japanese. I graduated from school that spring. I helped my mother at home all summer. When I told my father I wanted to go to post-elementary school, this is what he said : "Lots of your friends enrolled in post-elementary school but couldn't graduate." "Elementary school is good enough." And that was that.
【Employment and Marriage】
A relative was working at the Hasegawa Factory in Funairi. She got her employer to hire me. I started work in September or October. The constant smell of rubber there gave me headaches. In time, I learned that Hiroshima Bus and Railway Service was recruiting workers. In March or April 1942, I took a test and was accepted. I worked for Hiroshima Bus and Railway Service until April 1944. I was a conductor on city buses. The city streetcar service normally hired only males as drivers and conductors. But by that time, most males had been pulled into the army; the labor shortage was severe, so females were hired as conductors. By around the end of 1944, females were driving streetcars as well. However, standing all day hurt my legs, so I quit that job in April 1944.
I worked for the Volunteer Corps from July through November. Because of the acute labor shortage, we weren't allowed not to work. Eventually, anyone at home and not working was mobilized to work for the Volunteer Corps. Any man who had not signed up for military service was drafted. A lot of Koreans were drafted. After working for the Volunteer Corps from July to November 1944, I got married in December.
Enemy planes had been flying through our skies frequently before the atomic bombing. As soon as those planes invaded city space, air-raid sirens blared for a long time. Our family would prepare to escape to the air-raid shelter with our emergency bags. When the planes were gone, the all-clear siren would sound. Anticipating a bombing, we practiced drills like passing buckets to put out fires. Women learned to apply bandages the way nurses do. Another drill was running to shelters wearing air-raid hoods. If my father had been alive, we would have left Hiroshima in the early stages of the war. My mother was busy going back and forth managing her business. We knew it was time to evacuate but we had no house to go to. About the time we were considering renting farmland from a Japanese person and building a house on it, the atomic bomb was dropped.
【The Atomic Bombing】
At around 7:00 a.m. on August 6th a siren warned us of the presence of enemy planes. It was time to leave for work but because of this alert   my breakfast was delayed. While I was preparing to escape to the shelter, the alert cleared. It cleared very quickly. After the enemy planes were gone, my husband wolfed his breakfast and left home late for work. I washed dishes and cleaned up the table. My mother and my two sisters were in the room. Suddenly, there was a flash like lightning. I heard a roar like nothing I had ever heard before. The sound was loud enough to hurt our ears. Then, our house collapsed.
Korean residents lived in shabby row houses with galvanized tin roofs. Our house was so light it just fell down. We were trapped under the house. Had we been trapped under a bigger house, we would have died immediately. We saw a light coming from somewhere. My mother said she could see light coming from a hole. She crawled desperately toward it. The rest of us struggled to follow her, but there were all these nails and sharp things. My mother's skin was gashed and some was torn off along here by tin roofing. She was covered with blood, but she rescued all of us. My two sisters were scratched but nothing serious. My head was cut pretty badly. The scar is small now, but I still don't have hair where my flesh was scooped out by the tin sheet. I had another scar around here but it's small now. I had another big cut here. My injuries were lighter than my mother's but they gushed a lot of blood.
When we crawled out, we joined others from our row house. We didn't know where to run. We decided to go to the Army's Eba Shooting Range at the foot of Sarayama Hill. There was no shelter around; we had no better choice. So we went to the Shooting Range. Lots of people were already there, crowding infrom Funairi and Kawara-machi. People came from downtown Hiroshima saying, "Water! Water!" They were so burnt, you couldn't tell if they were male or female. Their kimonos were burned into their skin. Their skin hung from their fingertips like the figures displayed at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.
They came in saying, "Water, water" and a lot of them died pretty soon. Their noses and other features were all messed up; they looked terrible, and in the end they all died. They begged us for water but we were so injured ourselves. My mother was pressing on her wound with cloth she picked up somewhere. We had no energy to give anyone water. All that came into my mind was, "We'll soon die like these people."
Ultimately the fire spread to Funairi, but Eba was spared. Though sparks flew through the air, Eba didn't burn. Our house was crushed, but didn't burn. We were able to take things out of the house, including food. We stayed at the foot of Sarayama Hill for two or three days. We slept in a fig orchard at night but the summer heat was severe. Soldiers set up a place to eat near where water was leaking from a pipe. I cooked rice gruel in a pot I got from our house and fed it to my mother. On the 7th, some soldiers gave us rice balls. Women's groups also gave us rice balls. We stayed a few days.
Eba Park was behind Sarayama Hill. In the old days, twin pine trees stood there. Starting in 1943, the National Hygiene Hospital and other military hospitals were built there. Medical staff tried to treat the injured, but they had nothing but iodine. They diluted the iodine in buckets of water. This they applied to my wounds, but it didn't do anything. That's why people's burns oozed pus and were soon full of maggots. Most of the burn victims who came there for treatment died.
We had no place to take refuge but we were afraid the enemy would attack again. We moved to an empty house until the owner returned from the countryside in October 1945. At noon on August 15th, we heard the Emperor say that Japan had lost the war. People cried and cried because they wanted their husbands and children to come back. We had survived, but we had nothing to eat. It was a living hell.
【Return to Korea】
We had no intention of going back to Korea. We were Japanese and had decided to stay in Japan. I didn't speak Korean well. My mother spoke it, so I knew a few Korean words, that was all. Basically, I spoke Japanese with a bit of Korean mixed in. There was a rumor that North Koreans would be killed by the Japanese if we didn't leave. But we told each other we wanted to live together even if we suffered. We encouraged each other by saying Japan would recover soon. However, many returned to the North. Most who stayed in Japan had no money. They stayed because they couldn't afford to leave. We went back to South Korea in October. We took a train to Shimonoseki and boarded a boat at Senzaki. The once-a-day ferryboat docked at Shimonoseki at night and left in the morning. One boat a day. There were always crowds waiting to get on that boat. We slept outside in line and, on the 7th day, we made it onto the boat. A week, we had to wait. That shows how many Koreans were going home.
【Troubles in South Korea】
Bcause we couldn't speak Korean well and had a different lifestyle, life was hard. Koreans made their own clothing out of cotton. In summer they made clothes out of hemp. They were good at weaving, but we weren't. The only edible plants we knew about were mugwort and Japanese parsley. Lots of edible plants grew in Korea, but even if they were pointed out to us, we didn't know how to prepare them. My relatives who had remained in Korea were all farmers, But we returned from Japan at a time when no one had much of anything. Siblings had to share food and hardships. Sometimes we peeled, steamed, smashed, and cooked pine bark with a little rice to make porridge. We really struggled. In the end, we decided there was no place for us.
I wanted to go back to Japan. So did lots of others. I took a boat at midnight in June 1946. The high waves made me seasick. I had to get off and rest on Tsushima Island. A Japanese police boat came. The policemen boarded our boat and arrested us. I ended up not getting to Japan after all. I took Korean citizenship and gave up on going to Japan. But I was born in Japan and couldn't stop dreaming about getting back there. Forced to live in Korea, I ran a business here. Struggling like this, before I knew it, I was 80 years old.       
Around 1980, people came together and worked to open this office for atomic bomb sufferers. I didn't join that group. I had heard that if I returned to Korea I would suffer discrimination. Japanese people discriminate against Koreans. The most painful thing for me was to be called Korean. When children play together they sometimes quarrel. When we quarreled, Japanese children would call me "Dumb Korean!" That hurt me most. We spoke Japanese and lived like Japanese. Why such discrimination? Just  because I was born Korean? Sometimes I blamed myself.
In Korea, having children was a problem for atomic bomb survivors. Our blood runs through to the second and third generations. Because we couldn't let our children marry who they wanted, we couldn't join the Korean survivors group. I told people I came from Japan. I didn't say I was from Hiroshima. My neighbors knew, though. Partly because we had no urgent health reason to join the group, we didn't.           
【Treatment in Japan】
I became a member in 1993. A year later, I went to Japan and received the Atomic Bomb Survivor Health Book. I wanted to go to Japan so much, I went there right away to get treatment. I went to Japan three times. Among other issues, I had heart problems. I underwent various examinations over a period of a few months. The first visit lasted three months. I went two more times for two months each. I've been taking heart medicine for more than ten years. My stomach started to hurt, and they found I had stomach cancer. I had an operation on March 26 last year. Two thirds of my stomach was removed. All I have is a third left. A year has passed, so maybe it's a little bigger now. But I can't eat much. That's how I live.
【My Message】
We have to stop fighting. We can't go to war. Fighting a war means killing people. Killing means I have to kill or be killed. My enemy is trying to kill me. We're left with no choice but to kill each other. That whole situation is absolutely wrong. I tell my children they should never fight in a war. We all must help each other and work together. Our ancestors committed wrongs; and look how my grandchildren are suffering for it in Japan. War is absolutely wrong. I believe that.
Translation: Steve Leeper
Supervision: Miwako Sawada
Coordination: NET-GTAS (Network of Translators for the Globalization of the Testimonies of Atomic Bomb Survivors)

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