Parallel fund for sex slaves hits $83,000

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Parallel fund for sex slaves hits $83,000

An international fund started by a prominent nongovernmental organization to support Korean women and girls forced into sexual enslavement during World War II announced Thursday that it raised more than 100 million won ($82,700) in the two weeks since its launch.

The fund, tentatively called the Justice to the “Comfort Women,” has raised approximately 120 million won from at least 1,033 donors in Korea and abroad since Jan. 14. It’s run by the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, also known as the Korean Council.

The Korean Council said its goal is to raise 10 billion won from 1 million supporters, which would be equal to the 1 billion yen the Japanese government agreed to offer late last year in a landmark deal to end the bilateral dispute over the former sex slaves, euphemistically called “comfort women.”

The fund will be used to financially support and enhance the lives of the surviving victims, while continuing to seek justice for them, the operator declared.

While most donors have paid by wire transfer, the group launched a PayPal service last week that has attracted international donors.

Speaking through the organization, the comfort women have said they will refuse Japan’s state-backed fund because it is not being offered as a legal reparation.

Expressing complete dissatisfaction with last month’s deal between Seoul and Tokyo, the Korean Council promised to expand its activities against the Japanese government worldwide, starting with its own international fund for the victims and erecting more Peace Monuments around the world.

The Peace Monument is a life-size bronze statue of a 13-year-old girl in traditional Korean attire representing the tens of thousands of Korean women forced to work as sex slaves. The Korean Council took donations for the monument and set up the first on Dec. 14, 2011 across from the Japanese Embassy in central, Seoul.

Since then, more than 30 similar Peace Monuments have been set up across the country, including two more in the United States and one in Canada. The Japanese government wants Seoul to remove the statues, particularly the one near its embassy.

On Dec. 28, a breakthrough deal was reached by the foreign ministries of Korean and Japan promising an apology from Tokyo and a multimillion-dollar fund for the victims.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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