중앙데일리

An activist for comfort women dies

Feb 26,2004
Jeong Seo-wun was a brave activist who alerted the international community to the plight of Korean comfort women by making public her agony at being forced to serve as a sex slave for the Japanese military. She died yesterday at her home in Jinhae, South Gyeongsang province at the age of 80.
Her appearance at the World Conference on Women in Beijing, China in September 1995, in which she unveiled her seven-year experience as a comfort woman, broke the silence on the forgotten Korean victims.
With Ms. Jeong’s efforts, the international community, including the United Nations, declared Japan’s institutionalized sex slavery a clear war crime.
Ms. Jeong said that she had been forcibly taken to Indonesia by the Japanese military when she was only 13 years old. “I underwent a sterilization operation by a Japanese military surgeon,” Ms. Jeong said. “I had to face 50 soldiers a day, and 100 daily during the weekend.”
After taking Ms. Jeong from her home in 1937, the Japanese military sent her to Jakarta, Indonesia through Taiwan, China, Thailand and Singapore. Confined in Jakarta for seven years, Ms. Jeong was forced to serve as a sex slave there. After the war ended, she was confined as a war prisoner in Singapore for one year, and then sent to Korea.
For most of her life afterward, Ms. Jeong did not talk about her terrifying experience to anyone. But in 1980 she married her husband, who had been forcibly conscripted by the Japanese military, and her wounds slowly began to heal.
Ms. Jeong spoke out for the first time about her experience in 1992 in public testimony. In 1996, she traveled to Japan, where she criticized the government and asked it to give her a proper apology.
Ms. Jeong died with her demand unanswered. “As her health deteriorated, Ms. Jeong always said it was really regrettable that Japan never apologized,” said Yun Mi-hyang, secretary-general of the Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan.


by Im Jang-hyuk


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