Professor Mikyoung Kim’s Prison Notes

Hiroshima Prison Notes: Academic Freedom and
Human Rights Violations at Hiroshima City University in Japan
 

Mikyoung Kim

(International Political Science Association [IPSA] Research Committee on Human Rights [RC26], Chair & Visiting Research Professor, Emory University, USA)

 

Autobiography Gone Astray

 

My daughter once told me of her friend who had said that she was going write about their friendship in her autobiography. They were high school seniors. Her friend’s plan absolutely thrilled my daughter that she became ever more loyal to the friend as we care about how we are remembered and recorded beyond our time.

Ever since my grandmother passed away when I was five, our finite existence is my constant preoccupation. Every second mattered and I took nothing for granted. I wanted to test the persuasive utility of many clichés that fell under the rubric of ‘just the way it is.’ I conducted many of my own little experiments such as how many days I could go on without eating, and how many days I could function without sleeping, etc. I was not an easy child to raise. My mother once told me “I never raised you. But I was always chasing after you.” The unwinnable race against time started at a very early age. I was workaholic as a child, and my adult life has centered around the never-ending deadlines.

Everybody has a story to tell. My high school friends often blow me away with their stories. Unhappy marriage, family discord, accidents, incidents, financial strain, poor health, death, etc., etc. I thought I was going to write an autobiography which might be ultimately inconsequential yet interesting with a few stories of small battles here and there. I was born and raised in Korea, went to school in the US and worked in Japan. Not many in my generation had such experience.

I was going to describe myself as somebody who tried and persevered with some successes and some failures. Nothing is peculiar about the story. It was not going to be much different from Frank Sinatra’s unapologetic My Way. (By the way, I dislike the song for its shameless male-centeredness.) My life as a tenured faculty at Hiroshima City University became OK. I gave up on many things such as collegial camaraderie and got used to jealousy and chauvinism. I probably drank a ton of wine, beer and sake to get there.

 

My Turn to Tell

 

Life-turning events often take place out of the blue. They defy a flow chart-like logic and meticulous planning. March 6, 2017 was one of those topsy-turvy days. A doorbell unequivocally changed my life. That door ring defined the moment when I was going to be remembered as a criminal, not as a cosmopolitan academic. I am writing this story on criminalization and dismissal staged by Hiroshima City University of Japan as for my defense. What they have done is far more than a simple smear. It has deep and sinister roots. I refuse to accept their sadistic abuse and am not going to let them decide how my life is going to be remembered. I care about who I am and how I live my life. It is my turn.

I am a memory and human rights scholar. I know all too well how malleable human memories are. Brain plays its own tricky games by deleting, selecting, distorting and embellishing past events. We do it for self-protection and self-preservation. And yet material evidence and witnesses correct, verify and complement on our shortcomings. I wish to leave this account of mine as a historical record. I swear that the following accounts entail nothing fictitious. I am not good lying, and that was the primary reason why I become an academic. My narrative will not name the real names except the known official figures.

 

9:00 AM, March 6, 2017 and Then…

 

     Police Raid and Arrest

March 6, 2017 was Monday. I was getting ready to go to work when the doorbell rang around 9:00 AM. I did not answer the bell because it was an odd hour for a visitor. Postman comes around 10:30 AM, and I was not expecting any delivery. And I was very surprised when my house door opened from outside.

In a few seconds, a group of Japanese policemen entered my house and ransacked it. I was living in a two-story faculty housing in the western part of Hiroshima City. It is a quiet residential area with a famous temple, Mitaki-otera, nearby. The police told me not to touch anything, and demanded very specific items: personal notebook computers and a bank book. They found the notebook computers on their own, and I handed over the bank book. I had absolutely no idea why the police were in my house, and why they wanted to have my personal effects. The whole thing looked like the cut from a noir film. It was surreal. The search did not take long. I was ordered to pack the basic necessities that could last for a couple of days.

Still in my pajamas, I finally collected myself and asked them what was going on. They told me that my employer, Hiroshima City University (hereafter HCU), filed a criminal complaint against me and I was under arrest as a fraud suspect. I was working for the university for 12 years as a tenured faculty.

I was very surprised, but not shocked by the HCU’s action. I had been dealing with the university management for years over the so-called “Long-Term Training Program” and knew of what they were capable of. They were manipulative and contemptuous. One thing that puzzled me though was why they bothered to get the external legal authority involved in the internal affairs. ‘Wasn’t that an admission of their governance failure?’ I thought to myself.

     Initial Police Investigation

I was driven to the police station in the HCU’s jurisdiction. One of the detectives drove the white sedan. It was Nissan. The detective was a remarkably neat person. His shirt was well-pressed and the brown shoes were polished to shine. I thought about the dutiful wife who irons her husband’s shirt and polishes his shoes on her knees. It took about 20 minutes. I was handcuffed and bound by rope which was either fixed to the chair when I was sitting or restrained by a police staff from behind when I was in motion. I felt numb with those accessories.

The Japanese police took mug shots of my face from various angles: front, 45 degrees and 90 degrees on both sides of my face. Various horrible looking mug shot images that I had seen before were floating in my head including those of O.J. Simpson and Lindsey Lohan. They measured my height and weight. I gained weight since the last medical check-up. Shucks.

They also recorded very, very thorough prints of my both hands. Ten fingers, both palms, both sides of two hands. I had never seen such clear palm lines of mine before. The images were definitely much clearer than the ones I took at the Japanese airports. I complied and cooperated with them until they approached me with a cotton tip. They wanted to collect my DNA sample, and I refused. A line had to be drawn between what was mine alone and what was not. I did not want to leave the physical trace of my presence at the Japanese police station. I also wanted to protect my loved ones from their intrusion. HCU’s criminalization scheme should leave my family alone. I wanted to preserve our dignity. I told them “I do not expect any child custody battle. You should leave me alone.” And they did.

They asked me about my personal background such as current address, family background and career. When I refused to tell them of my parents’ names, the detective explained that it was nothing but a formulaic procedure of record keeping. And I had nothing to be wary of. Since they already confiscated a copy of my family registry from the house raid, I gave in. He seemed quite impressed to hear that I was a two-term member of Republic of Korea’s Presidential Advisory Council. When I told him that I had a Ph.D. from an American university, he said “then you can speak English well?”

When the whole procedure was over, it was about 2 PM. And I was very hungry. I had not eaten anything all day. I asked the detective whether I could eat something. He looked puzzled and left the room. After a few minutes, he came back to the small room and told me that I had to pay for my own meal. The paperwork was not processed yet, and they could not feed me. It did not matter and I asked for two rice balls: one with tuna and another with sea kelp. I had a total of 4,000 Yen (approx. USD35) with me when arrested. After paying for the rice balls, I was left with 3,700 Yen. I began worrying about how long the leftover money was going to last during my arrest. Things were hard to predict. I was in the absolutely and totally foreign territory.

     HCU President’s Press Conference

It was around 3:30 PM and they asked me to get into a tinted white van. Unlike the previous sedan, curtains and steel bars were installed in its interior. As the van made a left turn soon after leaving the police station, I spotted a man holding a video camera. He reacted to our van. I asked the detective, “what is the man with a video camera doing here?” The detective said, “when we arrest people, the Hiroshima Police Headquarters release the information to the press. When the media is interested, they come here.” Hmmm.

I was surprised to know that the jail was right at the center of downtown Hiroshima. It was a white brick building along the road I used to take a walk. It is a pleasant area with the Hiroshima Prefectural Museum nearby. Come to think of it, the area also has the Hiroshima Police Headquarters, Hiroshima Court House and other government buildings. Its posh location began to make a sense.

As our van began to descend to the jail entrance, I saw a few more people holding video cameras. I realized that they were there to capture the image of me inside the police vehicle. The window tint would not protect me from the public exposure. For some reason, I thought about Albert Camus’ The Stranger. I felt alone in the City of World Peace Culture.

It was past 5:30 PM and we were still in the van. The detectives were getting irritated because we waited for about one hour and the car was getting stuffy. I asked one of them how long the wait was going to be. One of them said that the jail was getting ready to receive me and it was taking them longer than usual.

I later learned that HCU’s President Nobuyuki Aoki was holding a press conference on the day of my arrest. They prepared and distributed the list of all my alleged crimes to the press. I had been covered by the media in my hometown of Busan, Korea, because I kept on winning prizes and awards. I was a model youth of some sort. The most recent one was the ROK Ministry of Education Award of Excellence for my 2015 book, Routledge Handbook of Memory and Reconciliation in East Asia, in December, 2016. It was a great honor. Aoki’s press conference was to deny and defy who I had been. They had to demoralize me.

At the press conference, the Japanese reporters kept on asking about the possible motivations behind my alleged crime. “Why would a tenured faculty member with the annual income of 80 million Yen (approx.  USD75,000) would cheat the small amount of 340,000 Yen (approx. USD 3,000) from the university?” Aoki’s response was “I have no idea.” He, of course, knew the whole background behind it because I had explained to him over and over again for years. I had thought HCU’s Long-Term Training Program was an ordinary faculty sabbatical. I simply did not know about the rules to report on the change of research venues. My boss, Mr. Kikkawa, knew everything about it. It was an innocent mistake, and I was sorry. And HCU kept on asking me to claim the airfare with a list of specific documents. And Kikkawa was one of them. Aoki chose to go deaf ears on me. He must have had good reasons to ignore all I had to say.

My arrest was covered by the Asahi, Yomiuri, Sankei, the NHK and the local Chugoku Shimbun. They carried the photo of mine which was uploaded on the HCU’s website. The articles also carried my personal profile such as nationality (Korean), sex (female) and age (53). HCU made me bare naked in the public’s eyes. They tried to frame me as a criminal in public perception even before the police investigation started. A friend of mine told me that her acquaintance described me as a “human garbage” after reading the newspaper report. I never wanted such kind of fame. Something went very, very wrong.

 

Hiroshima Jailhouse Blues

     

     Body Politics

A colleague of mine teaching in Tokyo asked me “so, how was it in the Hiroshima jailhouse?” I laughed at the way he greeted me when I was visiting the city after my release. “The price was right, but cannot recommend it for an accommodation under any circumstances,” I said. My days at the Hiroshima Jailhouse was more like Johnny Cash’s gloomy “In the Jailhouse Now” than Elvis’s corny “Jailhouse Rock.” Body politics can never be upbeat. I tried to be funny, but the whole thing about it was actually quite difficult.

The detectives handed me over to the prison guards around 5:30 PM. I was taken to a small room and asked to render all of my personal effects. It turned out that basically everything I had packed in the morning was considered dangerous and banned.

Since I did not know what to expect, I brought two pairs of dress pants, two blouses, one pair of stockings, two panties and two pairs of socks. I probably was on auto-pilot mode as if I was leaving for academic conference. The prison guards put them in plastic containers and marked them “dangerous items.” Then they handed me a basket full of jerseys and T-shirts. I chose a pair of dark blue jerseys with “留(ryu)” character marked on the tag and a white T-shirt. I liked the shirt because it had the typo-free print of “I Want to Travel the World.” Ever since I moved to Japan in 2005, I developed a strange habit of editing unnatural English expressions. The typo-free shirt made me feel like error-free. And I want to travel the world.

The guards asked me to undress. I bared the chest and let them see my breasts. It felt humiliating. Then they asked me to jump one time and reveal my lower body.

     Inmate #31

When the jailhouse check-in procedure was over, the guards took me to women’s cell section. And they gave me a pair of brown plastic slippers with the number “31” marked on them. And told me “you are 31 here. We will not call you by your name. Did you get it 31?” The practice reminded me of Gheorghiu’s The 25th Hour which I read as a teenager. I also knew of other dehumanizing methods from Korea’s dictatorial past. It was a residual of Japan’s colonial rule. The Japanese people often called me Mikion-san or Kimu-san or Mikyon-san or Kimu Mikion-san. Some phonetic sounds are hard for them to pronounce. I thought I could live with “31” in lieu of various versions of my name.

I soon began to develop aversion towards the way they called me “31.” My number was never called for something good. I began to cringe whenever “31” was called out by the guards.

 

“31, eat fast. Don’t you know others are waiting for you?”

“31, did you put rice in the tea bowl? You are not allowed to eat like that here.”

“31, don’t you dare to wave your hand? Do you think this is your house?”

“31, you should always use both hands when arranging the slippers.”

“31, can’t you brush your teeth faster?”

“31, wipe the wash basin as clean as possible.”

“31, don’t you know you should show your head and face while sleeping?”

“31, wipe beneath the cell door, too.”

“31, you should return the T-shirt if you are not wearing it when sleeping.”

“31, do not sit on the blanket while eating.”

“31, you should not talk about personal affairs with other inmates. “

“31, sit still and face the front side.”

“31, stop pacing around. Sit down.”

“31, did you say ‘I enjoyed it’ after drinking the water? Say it again and do it louder.”

 

Those cute-looking female guards were the absolute power holders at the jailhouse. They know how to make you feel miserable. Some of them were very good at it, while others sometimes let go of little things. A day’s luck often depended on who was going to be on duty.

The guards wrote down “31” on all the basic necessities that I had to buy in the jailhouse. One face towel, one hand towel, one pair of underwear, Rururu brand toothpaste, tooth brush, and shampoo in conditioner. I did not buy hair brush and cotton tips because I worried about money. I am still keeping all of them with me as a reminder of HCU’s body politics. Whenever I feel down and small, I look at them with my inmate number “31” marked on them.

 

     Solitary Confinement

I was put in a solitary confinement. My cell was the second one from the left side of women’s cell section. Each side of the section had six cells. It had a tatami flooring made of greenish plastic material, white painted wall, florescent lighting, one thick opaque glass window facing the back alley and a toilet. The squat-down style toilet was built low enough to be seen from the guard’s section.

The guards put the sign of “eye glasses all day” on the steel bars of my cell.  I saw the signs like “ring,” “medicine” and “reading glasses” on other cells.

On the first night, I learned that they do not turn the light off. The bright lights were out by 10:00 PM, but the dim lights were always on to monitor the inmates’ movement. We were on a suicide watch. I put the yellowish blanket under the comforter because it got chilly at night. Then smelled a scent on the edge of the blanket. I thought it was Nina Ricci’s L’Air Du Temps. And began to study the blanket and found a couple of strings of blond hair. The hair was thick, coarse and orange yellow. Then I imagined a foreigner woman who crossed the legal lines and put in jail in Hiroshima. Well…it could have been shop lifting, drug use, or prostitution. Who knows? The images of the person and me overlapped in my head and I sank gradually into shallow sleep.

The cell was square. It had 11 palm-width and 13 palm-length. One opaque window panel was installed in the back side of the cell facing the back alley. The window panel was very thick. The guards were surveiling the back alley at a regular interval.

The cell’s front side was facing the communal wash basin and the guards’ station. The guards’ station had two desks facing the wall and one long desk facing the cells. File decks and white board were organized along the wall.

The wash basin had three faucets and two types of wiping cloths placed on both edges. One out of the three faucets was wrapped with clear plastic and could not be used. One type of wiping cloth was for the basin, and another type was for the floor. We were instructed to wipe off water drops on both spaces. The inmates had to keep enough distance when washing our face, and were not allowed to talk to each other.

At those rare lucky moments, I could look at the clock on the guards’ desk and learn time. Sometimes the guards forgot to put the clock back to the right position leaving it to be seen from my cell. It was between 40 and 45 degrees of angle.

I was thrilled to know the time because I was losing sense of things. When they fed us with a lunch box for breakfast, I thought it must be around 7:30 AM. And with arrival of another lunch box with very similar contents, it must be around 11:30 AM. Then one more meal delivery, it must be around 5:30 PM. Artificial sensing of time does not synchronize well with the rhythm of our body.

Monotony is the enemy of sensitivity. It numbs our mind and kills our imagination. I gradually lost the sense of time with the exactly same manner of meal delivery and the same meal contents. White rice with a small umeboshi (Japanese plum pickle) on the top with side dishes of vegetables, a small piece of fish and a small piece of meat. And I truly did not like fried cold food. The serving temperature and the way it is cooked simply do not match.

The weather did not change. I missed the blue sky, the sky with shreds of white clouds that I saw while driving on the quiet open road in rural Georgia. I was going to school there. I was the only one on the road in the early morning hours.

I began to get confused whether the delivered lunchbox was for lunch or dinner. Losing the sense of time was a frightening experience. I thought that developing Alzheimer’s disease might feel something quite like that. Gradual confusion of time, the self, the surroundings, increase of self-doubt, erosion of confidence, lack of interlocution, deeper immersion into uncertainly and the subsequent downward spiral. The whole thing about it was hollow.

There was a small hole on the front side of the cell. The guards used the hole to distribute meals, glasses, water, newspaper and books. The peak of my day was when a copy of the Daily Sankei reached my cell. It was around 10:30 AM.  The turns to wash face started from the right side of the section, and the newspaper circulation started from the left side. Despite of all the things happening, I felt lucky to be able to read the paper sooner than later. I needed to stay connected with the outside world.

The Sankei, the rightwing paper, has the lowest circulation rate among the Japanese dailies. I had a certain aversion to the paper, but quickly learned to appreciate what I could have. I wondered why the Japanese legal authorities chose the Sankei as for the inmates’ reading material. If they did not like Asahi, they still could use mid-centrist Yomiuri. Come to think of it, the jailhouse library had Naoki Hyakuda’s The Eternal Zero on its list. The book is about kamikaze pilots during the war. Hyakuda is Abe Shinzo’s confident who PM Abe planted as Executive Committee member of NHK when his second term began.

I learned of ROK President Park Geun-Hye’s impeachment from the March 11 edition of Sankei.  The paper carried the news on Korea, not the commemoration of Tohoku earthquakes, on the front page. I was angered by Park’s incompetence. And yet learning of her demise as the first impeached Korean president in the Hiroshima Jailhouse made the whole thing unnecessarily poignant. The article written by Kuroda, the former Sankei Seoul bureau chief known for his intense disliking of my country, left me with bittersweet aftertaste. He titled the piece the “Limits of a Princess.”

One day I found a part of the Sankei’s society section delivered cut. It was a couple of days after my arrest. It seemed to be about 25-30 lines, a substantial report length. I was compelled to ask the guard the reason why. She said the first floor staff screens the paper and cuts out any reports related to the inmates held at the jailhouse before distributing it. Half of my head was like ‘No, it cannot be about me.’ And yet another half remembered those people with video cameras on the day of my arrest. The ominous hunch turned out to be right. All the major dailies and NHK covered the news of my arrest.

I had chills in the jailhouse. I had to go barefoot because socks were banned as dangerous items. Any item with elasticity and threads were considered dangerous. All the inmates were on suicide watch. Every morning my nose bled. The amount of blood was small. The left side of the nose was worse than the right side. It started on the second day of arrest, March 7, and did not stop until after my relocation to Seoul on May 2. I initially thought it probably had something to do with the dry air. But it did not stop on rainy days. A friend told me that it probably was related to blood pressure. I could not see a doctor until I left Japan because Hiroshima City University took away my medical insurance card along with my ID upon my release and their immediate firing of me. Expecting their humanity was something of a pipe dream.

 

     Daily and Weekly Routines

The Hiroshima Detention Center kept strict daily and weekly routines. The daily routine was like below.

07:00 AM            Wake up; Speak out loud “Good morning”; Fold futon, comforter and blanket; Transport them to the storage space; Guards check the cell and toilet while the inmates are out.

*Inmate can keep the blanket during day time, but not allowed to sit on it during meal time.

*Whenever an inmate returns to the cell, there is a body check. When the movement is confined to the 4th floor where the cells are, the check is done by hand patting.

*When an inmate moves beyond the 4th floor to go to the police interrogation on the 3rd floor and the Prosecutor’s office, the body check is done by both hand and metal detector. The latter requires the checks into the mouth, beneath the tongue, up and down sides of both hands, and three jumps (since I had to jump anyway, I always tried to jump as high as I could).

*Inmates have to use both hands to arrange the plastic slippers outside of the cell when entering it. It does not matter how neatly you can organize the slippers in different ways. It has to be both hands.

 

07:30 AM             Cell and built-in toilet cleaning.

*Use broom, plastic dust collector, wipe cloth and water in the plastic bucket.

*Place the handle of the broom pointing outside when returning it.

*Clean the bottom of the steel cell door as well.

 

08:00 AM             Wash face; Brush teeth; Use personal face towel hung on the communal hanger near the wash basin; Wipe the wash basin space and the floor of your own used space with the two kinds of cloth placed at the edge of the basin.

*Tooth brush, tooth paste and soap are stored in individual plastic container. Guard hands over the container to the inmate and she picks up the necessary item. The guard collects all the item into the container and returns it to the plastic container deck.

*No make-up and no cream is allowed.

 

08:30 AM             Distribution of lunch box for breakfast

*Inmates have to sit still, face the front and eat for 15 minutes.

*After eating, speak out loud “I enjoyed it.”

*Place the top part of black plastic chopsticks facing the guard’s side when returning the utensils.

 

09:00 AM             Physical exercise

*Voluntary option. Some guards let you that they do not wish to be bothered by your exercise.

*Inmates can talk with each other and male guards during the exercise time.

*The ceiling is covered with opaque glass. Hard to know the weather.

*There is no exercise equipment. Inmates can stretch, walk or run in circles.

*There is a wall mirror in the exercise area.

*Inmates can comb their hair or cut finger and toe nails.

 

10:30 AM             Newspaper reading.

 

11:30 AM             Lunch box distribution for lunch

 

12:00                    NHK Radio News Listening

*US President Trump’s FTA agreement policy.

*Foreign exchange rate fluctuations.

*Moritomo School scandal.

*Mostly J-Pop or jazz numbers followed by 4-5 news items

*The volume was sometimes so loud that it deafened the ears.

*The stereo sound quality was very poor.

 

@Some morning hours and most of the afternoon hours were taken up by the police interrogation.

 

17:30                     Delivery of dinner lunch box.

 

18:00                     Wash face and brush teeth.

*Nivea cream was allowed.

*It was so rich and felt like plastering cream cheese on the face. My face developed rashes and kept on peeling that I kept on using the cream. Dermatologist once told me that the stress hormone, cortisol, can cause the problems.

 

19:00                     Taking the futon and comforter out from the storage space.

*My lawyer came to see me on his way home.

*He often told me of what was happening outside (Kake school scandal, Trump administration, Stephen Bannon, etc.)

*He told me of the stories of Japanese people who fell from the grace and regained it by making extra efforts.

 

@Was often exhausted from the police interrogation and could not do anything until the bed time.

 

22:00                     Speak out loud “Good night.

Bright lights out; dim lights on.

 

The weekly routine entailed the following activities.

*Tuesdays and Friday Mornings  15-minute hot bath.

*Thursdays                                                          Ordering of basic necessities such as sanitary napkins, cotton tips and soap, and shopping of vanities such as soy milk, red bean paste bread and orange juice. Pay in cash. Inspection by the high ranking officials at the Detention Center.

*Saturdays                                                          Arrival of ordered goods

 

     Police Interrogation

The Japanese police put me on handcuffs and ropes, but were keen on listening unlike the Hiroshima City University. HCU was not interested in listening what I had to say. They were instead busy pressuring me to say what they wanted to hear. Their priority was to protect Kikkawa, a parachute-appointee amid Abe Shinzo’s Right-wing political milieu. The hell with truth, they were signaling me in emails and multiple investigation sessions. They could not hide their aversion towards who and what I was. I was a Korean woman who had privileges in their society. I probably seemed like a loner who would fail to draw support from their bullying. I had a perfect profile as the target of their incessant harassment. I was nothing more than foreign, dislikeable and distasteful to Aoki who is known to be a racist.

During the police interrogation, I thanked the Japanese detectives several times for giving me a chance to talk. When the detectives called me “Kim-sensei,” I choke up. I never felt respected as a legitimate academic at HCU, but the police tried to be respectful of the fraud suspect. “Did I work for a crime syndicate or an advanced educational institution?” I often ask myself in Hiroshima jail.

I had a good share of apprehension against the Japanese police before the arrest. I grew up listening to the horror stories of Japanese policemen who tortured and maimed my fellow countrymen during the colonial era. I also remembered having chills at the Dongdaemun History Museum where YOO Kwan-soon, the freedom fighter, was executed by hanging after the 1919 Independence Movement. The mannequin displays were showing the Japanese policemen pulling the fingernails to force their confessions. I could not bear the sight and the sound at the museum. The horror was too much to bear. It was ironical that the Japanese police was much more civilized than Hiroshima City University.

The detectives were explanatory about the rules, and kept conscientious time of each investigation session which lasted at the average of 5-6 hours a day. They were occasionally personable. Since I could wash my hair only twice a week, one of the them threw a joke at me: “Kim-sensei, did you take the hot bath this morning? Your hair is not greasy today.” I laughed and told him, “You are wearing a clean shirt today. You could go home last night?” The police were more human than my university.

On the second day of the detention, I met a woman arrested on fraud charge at the Prosecutor’s Office. Both of us were in the waiting room. She was complaining about bad headaches. She told me that she had to memorize what she had testified in the 30-day detention period to minimize the sentence. She said, “My prosecutor is young and very smart. It is very difficult to outsmart him.” I knew I could not do that because my brain is not wired that way. I am a timid type. The only thing I could do was to tell everything as was. There was no other way.

I told the police everything as was. I had nothing to hide and nothing to fear. I admitted my own lack of judgment under pressure, and apologized. What had been done was done, I admitted them as facts. I only tried to explain the reasons why. The whole thing began with an innocent ignorance about one rule and that HCU did not explain it to me. They later framed my simple mistake as a criminal offense in order to remove me from the university and Japan. I had been under threats for more than 10 years. I also made it clear about who exerted what kind of pressure on me in order to make me to do what and when. I had told everything to the HCU before their criminal filing. They only chose not to listen.

The only time I broke down during the 12-day detention period was when the detective told me of Kikkawa’s admission of having signed my Korea Foundation fellowship application in his own hand. He kept on denying it for two years, and HCU framed it as my fabrication. When the police went to him for investigation, he could no longer lie about it. Perjury is a criminal offense. He and his allies did everything to make it my forgery. That would help them evade their own responsibility. They could make a criminal out of me and wash their hands off. They needed to murder me for self-protection. My removal was the surest way to maintain their status. I had been fighting against a mountain of enemies.

Kikkawa was knowledgeable about the criminal law on false testimony as had been the master of bullying.  He knew all too well how not to leave incriminating evidence on his abusive behavior. With his persistent lies and HCU’s dismissal of my accounts, I often fell ill. Doctor’s visits became pretty much a routine. Their diagnoses ranged from anxiety disorder to common cold. For the first time at the jailhouse, I cried with joy. I was glad that HCU put me in jail for the first time.

 

     Prosecutor’s Interrogation

I was called to the Prosecutor’s office three times during the 12-day detention period. I was taken to the adjacent building of the jailhouse on the second day of my arrest. After an hour of waiting, I was taken to the 8th floor. Whenever the guards were at the cross section of the building, they shouted out loud, “woman passing.” That was to prevent the inmates’ inter-gender paths crossing. The way they controlled the traffic reminded me of schools of fish synchronizing their movements without causing any collision.

Before meeting the Prosecutor, I was shown the video on the procedures in the Korean language. When the recorded voice said “you are entitled to the repeated explanations until it becomes clear,” I choked up. It was thoughtful. I was never allowed to ask questions at HCU. The power relations were so unilateral that I was only asked to obey their orders, but was not given a chance to ask questions.

The Japanese legal authority was conscious of inmate’s human rights. That was a contrast to what I had heard on the forced confessions and criminalization of the innocents. I still do not know whether my impression is generalizable. I remembered the outrageous cases of police brutality. One Japanese man served 20 years in prison until the DNA test cleared him of the felony charges. He was accused of raping and murdering a school girl where he was working as the school bus driver. Another case involved the murder of a girl who was allegedly killed by her own mother and her live-in partner. The police argued they were after the insurance money. Years of battle and scientific experiments exonerated the couple after many years of incarceration. I had been apprehensive, but could relax a bit.

The Prosecutor was a woman in her early thirties. I was interrogated by her twice. She had incredibly clear eyes. I thought she was not drinking any coffee and any alcohol. Otherwise a person cannot have such lucid eyes. She was a slender person with a calm and collected poise. A platinum Tiffany wedding ring was quietly sitting on her fourth finger. I imagined her husband to be a judge in sincere and modest persona. She reminded me of my high school best friend who later became a medical doctor in my hometown of Busan. The first thing she told me was that everything about the interrogation was going to be audio-video recorded. I saw a microphone placed on the desk and the video camera recording the session. I was actually relieved to have those equippments in the room. It was for mutual protection.

One thing that surprised me was the Prosecutor’s ability to digest all the materials, organize them in logically coherent fashion and dictate them to the clerk sitting at the desk next to hers. I also saw the stack of papers that HCU submitted on their criminal complaint against me. It must be hundreds of pages, even close to a thousand pages. While doing all these, she kept on asking the questions that puzzled her. The Prosecutor was trying to understand my motives in claiming the small amount of money. It was clear to her that I did not have strong desire for money; I was not in debt; I even could not remember the amount of airfare that got reimbursed; I did not know the date of bank transfer; the money was still sitting in my account; and I returned the money later on. The whole thing did not fit the usual fraud profile. And she was puzzled.

The Prosecutor’s puzzle was also shared by the police. One of the detectives remarked that “I have never seen a fraud case like this in my entire career. I am in this business for more than 20 years. We have no motives. This case does not make a sense. It does not stand as a fraud case.” I told them that HCU repeatedly asked me to file for reimbursement. I never wanted the money and I never needed it.

I later learned that the Prosecutor justified the non-indictment decision with my deep remorse and return of 340,000 yen to the university. Since I never had an intent to commit a fraud, I actually did not know what I should feel remorseful about. I just did what HCU told me to do, and admitted the fact that I claimed it.  A Japanese blogger left a comment on the internet calling me an “idiot” after my case became a controversy in Korea. I had to laugh at it because s/he was probably right in calling me by that name. I blindly followed their orders and provided them with the ammunition they were looking for. “Idiot” sounded better than “human garbage” for sure.

 

     Jailhouse Camaraderie

The jailhouse was a community of people. The women separated by the walls and solitary confinements knew how to stay connected with each other. The little and innocuous secretes shared among the inmates gave me unexpected joy and surprises. The little games and secrets are not known to the outsiders including the guards. The guards checked my cell every morning, but never knew about the greenish gray insect living there. It looked like a lady bug, but in different color combinations. When I picked up the bug and felt its energy between the fingertips, I became awestruck by the vitality of a living thing. I talked to myself, ‘See? As long as I am alive, it’s OK.’

The inmates were doing things to stay connected with each other. We were separated by the solitary confinements and were not allowed to talk to each other. But there were ingenious ways to engage with each other. The jailhouse was a society, a society of down-and-out people who shared kindness and camaraderie.

The first of those secretive encounters was with No. 39. She was a skinny woman with a face of reverse triangular shape. She wore thick glasses with short hair. When I ran into her for the first time during the morning exercise, the first thing she asked me was “Did you dye your hair?” I said, “Yes.” Then she showed me the white part of her hair and said, “Me, too. The dye does not last long. How cumbersome!” I agreed with her. No. 39 continued, “How old are you?” I said “53.” She got excited and said “I am 54.” She casually and comfortably talked with male guards. I could tell that it was not her first arrest.

No. 39 and I were paired to share the wash basin during the morning routine one day. Since we had to stand separately and had to finish our routine within the limited time, I was totally preoccupied with the new environment. Then there was a quick and swift touch on my behind, and I was absolutely surprised. None of the guards standing right next to us knew about it. It happened a matter of seconds. It was No. 39’s way of acknowledging my presence.

When I was in and out of the cell for the police interrogation and lawyer’s visits, I could see No. 39 sitting in her cell trying to meet my eyes. At one point, she winked at me. I got absolutely exhilarated. During the body check when the guard’s attention was diverted, I reciprocated her wink. To my total surprise again, she looked so lonely at that very moment. I somehow could imagine how she was feeling with my efforts to reciprocate her friendliness. She probably was reminded of all the human warmth she was missing at the jailhouse. We were trying to normalize our feelings in the unusual environment.

No. 72 was in the cell to my immediate right. Her complexion was dark and pale when she first arrived at the jail. She seemed to be in her late 60s with shy demeanor. In a few days, she began to look better and started to exercise every morning. I often joined her when she was running in circles during the 15-minute exercise routine. No. 39 joked to her, “Hey, big sister, you are feeling better after giving up, don’t you? Yeah, we need to let it go, don’t we?” No. 72 did not say anything. She was a very silent and private person. I could not even guess what she did to get there. Her lawyer came to see her every day.

On one of our hot bath days, No. 72 and I became a pair. The paring was a random assignment. My period started that day and told her that I was not getting into the tub. She quietly nodded. The allocated bath time was 15 minutes. We had to get dressed and undressed, wash and dry our body, shampoo our hair, get soaked in the hot bath and wipe the floor in the given time. When I saw No. 72 struggling to get her hair strands out of the communal brush, I had to help her. Water was dripping from my body, but decided to help No. 72. I knew that I was going to be in trouble if I did not finish the whole activities in the given time. But I also knew that I was not going to forgive myself for going blind eye to her trouble. In her advancing years and without reading glasses, she could not pick out the hair strands from the brush. She said “thank you” in very low and soft voice. Something hot was chocking my throat. She helped me to keep myself. Things can happen, and yet we try to preserve the very core of what makes us who we are. I was grateful for No. 72 for reminding me of who I was that day.

The day at the Prosecutor’s Office was like a picnic day for the inmates. We could look at the sky and the streets from the police van. The life we were used to came alive and normal. More than anything else, we could talk to each other in the van and in the waiting room. We could sit around and have lunch together. The guards wanted to transport all of us in one van at one time. The outing was usually a whole day’s affair because we needed to wait until the last person’s turn was over.

I met No. 81, an elderly lady in her 80s, for the first time at the Prosecutor’s office. I quickly realized that she was the woman who kept all of us awake one night with her screams. Her cell was in the other side of the women’s section. I could only hear her panic-stricken screams and the guards’ shouting at her. It lasted for hours. I first thought the sound was more like animal’s howling. It could not be human, I thought. There were no clear words and no communication, but nonstop screaming and panting. The noise was filled with fear and panic. The air of sheer terror became almost contagious. None of us said anything that night. I knew all of us were awake that night.

No. 81 was an enka, Japanese love song, singer. With her knees getting weak, her fans help her to climb to the stage and she performs up to 3 songs. Her manager made 100 CDs in 2008 and they were sold out. Her hair was dyed bright red and she was wearing fancy rings. They were handsome rubies in large carat. Probably the legacy of her prime years with a few patrons trying to win the heart of the singer with those gifts. As years adding up, her rings resisted to come off. I remembered seeing the sign of “Rings” on her cell.

No. 39 once told me about the large elderly population at the Hiroshima prison in Iwakuni City. She was like “Once you see them, you just know that they cannot even push their own cart. They cannot even pour water over their own body. But they surely did something to get there. Don’t you wonder how that is possible? Committing a crime takes energy, you see, but they do not have that. Then how did it happen?” I never thought about that aspect of criminology, and did not what to say.

People in the waiting lounge were obviously curious about what No. 81 did. No. 59, a feisty woman in her mid 50s, had to ask her.

 

“Grandma, what did you do?”

“Oh, well, I was at the store to buy my manager a bottle of good wine. I owe him a great deal. He was with me for more than 30 years. He even helped me to release the CDs. You see? I cannot move my hands freely since the stroke several years ago. I took out 5,000 Yen from the store ATM. I already had 23,500 Yen with me in the wallet. I wanted to set aside 5,000 Yen for the gift.”

 

She then paused and had a sip of warm water. Everybody watched her hand movement intently. Her hands were indeed shaking uncontrollably. Right hand more so than the left hand.

She continued, “I got a bottle and went to the register to pay. You see? I cannot move my hands freely. I showed my wallet to the clerk and asked him to take the money out and pay. And then he asked me whether I wanted the receipt, I said no.”

All of us knew something bad was going to happen after that point. We all gasped for air.

 

“I walked out of the store and sat down on the bench in the first floor of the store to get some coffee from the vending machine. Then the store manager showed up out of the blue and asked me, ‘Did you pay?’ I said ‘Yes.’ Then he said ‘Show me the receipt.’ I did not have one. I did not ask for it. The manager called the police on the spot and they took me to a police station.”

 

I could understand the meaning of her howling that night. She had never been arrested before and had no idea what was happening. When it became late at night and she found herself in the strange place, she had a panic attack.

I told her, “If somebody really wanted to steal, why would she sit down and have coffee inside the store? The person would want to run as fast as she could. The store manager simply could have asked the register clerk about the money. It could have been settled peacefully.”

Others pitched in. “We are living such horrible time,” “People have become so intolerant and irritable nowadays,” “You will be fine, Grandma. This is your first time,” “I want to hear you sing,” etc. There was an outpouring of cheers and advice. Since that night, we did not hear her screams any longer.

I often ran into No. 59 during the morning exercise. She was a lively woman with several teeth missing. She always combed her hair with fancy-looking brush decorated with mother of the pearls. One day she asked me, “Are you Chinese?” I said, “No, I am Korean.” Then she almost jumped and said, “I am half Korean. My father was Korean and my mother was Japanese.” Then she asked me, “What did you do?” I said, “Fraud.” She looked very surprised and asked, “How could you commit a fraud with that poor Japanese?” I shrugged and smiled. ” Then I asked her, “what did you do?” She said, “Drug. My second time.”

I learned that No. 39 and No. 59 bought drugs from the same supply group. I overheard their conversation in the police van on the way back to the jailhouse from the Prosecutor’s office. They had several mutual friends and some of them were in hiding in Kyushu and others were rounded up by the police. From their conversation, I learned that No. 39 recently married and was arrested from traffic accident. She probably was hallucinating and caused the accident. No. 59 told No. 39 that “A-chan, you looked much healthier than the last time I saw you. Much healthier.”  No. 39 was diligently writing letters to those in the high places at the court seeking their mercy.

No. 59 was the feistiest inmate with loudest voice in women’s section. When she did not like something, she launched protests in very strong and straightforward manner. I often heard her yelling at the guards from her cell. She would say things like “You guys do nothing around here. You people do not care about anything. You think doing nothing is the best because you do not any sense of responsibility. It is just the way it is here in Japan. We are so screwed up.”

One day I asked No. 59 whether she played golf because she was wearing a bright pink Munsing golf wear jacket. It looked good on her and I said “you look pretty in the color.” She told me she knew nothing about the sports and was just wearing it. Then she asked me what I was doing for living. I told her that I was a university professor. Then she got absolutely excited. “What? A university teacher? Which university? Oh, the one close to the Hiroshima port? Not that one? Is your school close to that general hospital? Oh, the one next to the highway toll gate? I have never met a university professor in my entire life. I am a middle school dropout. Then you can read English well?” The male guard intervened our conversation. He later told me not to share my personal information with other inmates because they are not trustworthy.

Ever since No. 59 realized that I was a learned person, she asked me to read her palms. She thought that I knew basically everything because I was a college professor. I read a couple of books on palm reading when I was a teenager and could become of her service.

 

“Wow, you are going to live a long life.”

“What? No, it is not possible.”

“Look at this. Your longevity line is very long. You fall ill in the early 50s and late 50s. But you will overcome the illness. And live a long and healthy life.”

 

She looked happy and convinced when I pointed out her longevity line. When I told her that the drug problems can be the illness that she could overcome, her eyes were sparkling with hope. I had never seen her that happy before. She then said, “I will do two years this time. After that, I will go back to my children and work as hard as I can. I will save money and try my best to make it up with them.”

I realized that the strong and feisty woman was actually fragile and weak inside. The brave front was for her self-protection. What she needed the most was hope just like all of us. Hope keeps us alive and keep us going.

 

     Daily Visitors

I could receive visitors up to a group of 3 people a day. My HCU colleagues and acquaintances came to see me every day. They told me what was happening outside. They wanted to know what I needed and how much money I had with me. They sent in things like facial towels, under wears, notebook, postcards and letter pads among others. They also collected cash and sent in 20,000 Yen (USD180) so that I could buy other necessities as well. English Bible passed the screen, but Upper Room, a Christian testimonial booklet, could not pass it. The guards could not read English and its content could not be checked.

I could talk with the visitors only in Japanese for 15 minutes. The guard was sitting in the back monitoring our conversation. We were not allowed to talk about my case. On the second day of my arrest, I bounced the ‘why?’ question to my HCU colleague-visitors.

 

“Why did Hiroshima City University go that extreme? The extreme of putting their faculty member in jail?”

 

A friend said,

 

“They want to remove you from the university and Japan. They needed to destroy your reputation in the society before firing you. They are playing a game with public opinion. They needed this extra step of involving legal authorities to justify what they are going to do.”

 

Another friend said,

 

“They want to make a showcase out of your arrest. They want to show to the rest of us what can happen if we do not obey their orders. This is to shut us up and scare the hell out of us. This is a classic example of dictatorship. Now we are so scared and nobody’s talking. They are winning the game.”

 

The third visitor said,

 

“You are tenured. A university cannot fire a tenured faculty easily. They had to go extreme to fire you. Had you not been tenured, they could simply terminate the contract.”

 

I became absolutely disillusioned with Hiroshima City University, an exemplar advanced educational institution in the city of “world peace culture.” I made up my mind that I would never give in under any circumstance. I will fight until the very end of their dirty war.

 

Prosecution’s Non-indictment, Release and Dismissal

I was supposed to leave for the Prosecutor’s Office that Friday morning, March 17. I was told that it would be around 10:00 AM. The Prosecutor would deliver her decision whether I was going to be released that day or detained for 10 more days. My lawyer had told me that he was hopeful, but the extension could happen. Therefore, I should stay strong under any circumstances.

My lawyer is a gentle-hearted person. He almost cried when came to see me at the Hiroshima Jail on the first day of my arrest. He blamed himself for letting that happen. HCU’s filing of criminal complaint was something he did not imagine. He should have warned me of the possibility, but neglected to do so. He tried to comfort me by sharing an ancient Chinese story. There lived the elderly man whose son got injured from falling from a horse. The misfortune of his son’s injury turned around when a war broke out and he was exempted from military conscription because of the injury. The bad luck saved his son’s life. Then my lawyer said “You will rise from this fall. You will rise up higher and bigger. You will be just fine.” I was lucky to have somebody like him on my side. I needed a caring heart very badly on that day.

I was wary of the extended detention because I was deteriorating physically and mentally. My body always had chills in jail. The skin was peeling on the face. Rashes were spreading to the face, neck and the legs. Stomach ache was constant. If I had to continue like that, I knew I was going to break. I also knew that HCU wanted me to break. Their body politics wanted me to experience the rock bottom. My human dignity was the least of their concern. Since I was not human to their eyes, I was not entitled to any rights and any protection. That pretty much summarizes the whole story.

When the breakfast was over, my cell door opened. The male guard told me to step outside. Then he put his finger on his mouth and ordered me not to say anything. I was taken to a small room with the plastic bags containing my personal effects. The guard pulled a piece of paper and began to read it. It was so sudden and out of procedure that I missed most of what he read to me. It seemed like I was getting released. I asked him whether I was going to the Prosecutor’s office. I had been told so before. He said “no.” And then he told me “you should leave this place as quickly as possible. We want to avoid the media.”

The guards checked every single item on the list and asked me to sign the paper. He told me once again to exit the jailhouse as quietly as possible. I liked the way he explained the reason why: “The poor people here will lose their spirit when they know that you are getting released. Their days in this place will become harder to endure. It is customary not to say anything when people leave this facility.” It made a sense. On the other hand, however, I wanted to wish other women good luck. They were the women who shared their life stories with me. They also accepted me as a person as was. I sometimes wonder how they are doing and what is going on with their lives.

When I walked out, I was struck by the sun. It was bright. I spotted my lawyer and two detectives talking to each other on the roadside. The detectives were going to take me to the police station. We were to take care of the remaining procedures. My lawyer told me to grab a cab to his office when the whole thing was over.

The detectives wanted to return the items they had confiscated from the house raid. They were my personal computers and bank book. I again signed a set of papers and walked out of the police station with my stuff.

While standing on the roadside waiting for taxi, my head began to spin. I was feeling dizzy with all the buzz, the movements and the noise. I had lost touch of everyday life from the detention. I arrived at my lawyer’s office around 11:30 AM. I had curry and rice for lunch at a nearby retro style restaurant. That was to celebrate my newly found freedom after 12 days of detention.

Hiroshima City University sent two office staffs to my way after two hours of the release. It was 2:00 PM. They delivered the disciplinary dismissal notice along with other orders. They were firing me as of that day, March 17, and ordered me to refund the three-day portion of monthly salary. The 20th of each month was the payday, and the salary was going to be transferred to my bank account. Therefore, I owed them some money. In addition, they wanted me to return a small amount of transportation subsidy from March until July. They went on to inform me that they were not going to pay the severance fee at the amount of 4.5 million Yen (approx. USD40,000).

There was more. They wanted me to evict from my office and house as expeditiously as possible. They were the properties of HCU and I had nothing to do with the institution as of the day. With the loss of my faculty status, I was no longer qualified to use those spaces. They also confiscated my faculty ID and health insurance card.

Hiroshima City University was, again, stripping me bare. They bared me naked as a person before the public’s eyes with Mr. Aoki’s press conference. They were financially and professionally stripping me bare this time. Their hatred towards me was that deep and that boundless. Disciplinary dismissal was a violation of university regulation when the criminal charge was dropped. Yet they cared less. HCU stood above the law and nothing could stop their madness.

I was not only shocked, but deeply puzzled by the series of HCU’s actions. I became ever more convinced that there was something fundamentally nasty about it. Their actions were beyond the acceptable norms defined by commonsense. The idiosyncratic assertion on Japan’s uniqueness would be a hard sell for HCU’s violation of my human rights and academic freedom. I was HCU’s tenured faculty for 12 years. Their behaviors were parallel to sadistic tortures. I saw their psychosis long before the arrest and during the abrupt dismissal.

More than anything else, their reasons for my dismissal did not meet the university rules and regulations. I was not found guilty of criminal offense; I did not cause social controversy; and I never committed unethical and immoral acts, as they specified in the dismissal notice.

The sick people often do not know how sick they are until they are retaliated in the equal or more in terms of frequency and magnitude. While they are fine tuned in their own sense of humiliation, their capacity to put themselves in somebody else’s shoes always falls short. That defines tragedy. Lack of compassion is one good indicator of psychosis.

 

Forced Eviction from Home and Office

I was placed under a different set of pressure with HCU’s eviction order. It was only days after my release from the jail. My nose continued to bleed. I lost my foreign residence visa status in Japan. I was no longer on a gainfully employed worker. HCU quickly confiscated my faculty ID and medical insurance. I could not even get sick. I was ordered to pack and leave the university and Japan “as promptly as possible.”

I threw away hundreds of books and tens of boxes with research materials. I wanted to study the memories of Korean a-bomb victims from Hiroshima’s perspectives, Hiroshima’s spatial symbolism in post-war reconstruction projects and the Fukushima-Hiroshima anti-nuclear movement in post 3-11 milieu. More than anything else, I wanted to analyze Tokyo’s human rights stance towards North Korea by linking it to their religious world views. Its focus was going to be on the revival of Nihon Kaigi (Japan Council) where religion and politics are entangled under Abe Shinzo’s Japan. Trashing piles of materials was painful.

HCU made me sign a piece of paper stating that I was not going to smuggle out paper- as well as computer-based information on HCU. I never knew HCU had sensitive classified information in its public domain. I worked for the US Department of State for 4 years (2000-2004) and was fully aware of the highly sensitive classified materials. I almost laughed at HCU’s excess. Their psychosis was often manifested in the form of paranoia. I was not a spy, but a tenured faculty whom they hired for 12 years.

HCU continued to play its bullying game until the very last end. The HPI office staff was standing outside around 17:00 in order to make me leave before they did for the day. My phone line was blocked. And yet they took the liberty of taking away my left-over research budget at the amount of about 30,000 Yen (approx. USD250) without my consent. I wanted to use it to ship some of the personal belongings to Korea. Yet my budget had disappeared somewhere. Nobody knew about its whereabouts. More honestly, perhaps, they did not give a damn about it. HCU was on the absolute and total self-serving mode. They were accomplishing the goal of removing the anti-Abe woman academic of Korean origin.

Several colleagues offered to help with the high pressure packing. Most of them helped in secrecy. They gave me boxes and tapes, transported the boxes to my house, and packed the stuff I could not throw away. I felt the presence of silent majority amid the madness.

Packing at home was another story. I had to find a mover during the busiest season of the year. I had to decide what to keep and what to throw away without knowing where I was going to live in Korea. It was very intense. One thing I knew for sure was that my new place in Seoul was going to be very small. It would be wise to trash most of my belongings, I thought. And I did exactly that. My nose continued to bleed every morning.

I had to deal with another kind of bullying. I was the only woman faculty living in the HCU housing compound. The wives of HCU colleagues kept on giving me the cold stares to let me know that I was no longer welcome there. They were disgusted with me. I was the embarrassment to their husbands’ workplace. They wanted me to leave as soon as possible. A sense of shared destiny blinds most of us to what is really going on.

It was similar at grocery store, neighborhood hair saloon and other places I used to frequent. The negative impact of media manipulation was felt to the core. HCU wanted me to taste social ostracism as a public criminal. That is an experience widely lived through by Korean residents in Japan for more than a century. And HCU succeeded. Clap, clap and clap.

 

Leaving Hiroshima

I left Hiroshima on May 2, 2017. I do not want to look back my Hiroshima days. It was more than enough. I was working my tail off professionally, and was lonely personally. My professional achievements were possible at the cost of personal loneliness. After all that, I was left with nothing. I lost everything, everything I was working very hard for.

A friend told me at the Hiroshima Airport, “I did not want to tell you this… Now you are leaving…Over the years, I thought you were clinically depressed. You were not normal. Did you know that?” I did not know, but that is very likely. I was sick and unhappy in the city of world peace culture.

For now, I just want to be happy and healthy. When I wake up every morning, I sigh out of relief that I am neither in the jail nor at the university. I feel relaxed being away from the sadistic people and their poisonous air. I care about my life. That is independent of what HCU thought of it.

 

Where to From Here?

 

My time in Hiroshima, Japan, had to end. I was hanging by a thread for too long. All the professional opportunities to obtain research grants and group projects were systematically blocked by Kikkawa and his allies. He knew how to pull very effective bulleying against the weak and vulnerable. I had a perfect profile to fall into his prey: a single, Korean, productive, woman. He is the master of bullying. Their way of ending it, however, was unnecessarily violent and excessive. They ended up revealing their true colors to the world.

I am not very good at hating, but good at fighting. I am usually OK with 99 percent of the times, and my troubles lie with that sticky 1 percent. When it comes to the issues that I deeply care about, I neither easily give up nor give in. What Hiroshima City University of Japan has done to me belong to that very sticky 1 percent. They attempted to finish me as a person and as an academic for no good reason. I cannot let them get away with those injustices. A line has to be drawn.

A lawsuit to recover my honor was filed on July 28, 2017. The first court hearing was on October 4, 2017. The court ordered HCU to present objective evidence to justify their dismissal of me. The second hearing will take place on December 4, 2017. My lawyer is sharp-headed and good-hearted. And both of us are good fighters. I am determined to fight until the very end of victory. I am much more resilient and persistent than my enemies think.

I am yet to write my autography, and it should not end on HCU’s terms. When the turn to tell my story comes, I will end it in bright and somber tone. Everybody has a story to tell. The story of truths and passion.