Ex-sex slave dies shrinking survivor pool to 40

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Ex-sex slave dies shrinking survivor pool to 40

Another victim of wartime sexual slavery under the Japanese military, 88-year-old Yoo Hee-nam, died on Sunday, leaving the total number of registered survivors at 40.

Yoo, who suffered from lung cancer, died at 8:23 a.m. at the National Medical Center in central Seoul.

She lived in the House of Sharing in Gwangju, Gyeonggi, for the past four years and had been an active voice on the issue of the Japanese Imperial Army’s forced recruitment of girls and young women into sexual slavery during World War II.

Initially, 238 women registered with the Korean government as comfort women victims, the euphemistic name for these survivors.

Yoo was born in 1928 in Asan County in South Chungcheong. At the age of 15, in 1943, she was taken to Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture to serve as a sex slave for the Japanese military. In the midst of being transferred from Osaka to Singapore, the war came to an end. With the help of an Osaka resident, she was able to return to Korea.

However, her life following liberation was a tough one and she tried to earn a livelihood selling goods. She also suffered from chronic insomnia and a heart condition.

She was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009 and began living at the House of Sharing in 2012.

Yoo is one of the victims of sexual slavery who filed a $20 million civil suit against Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a California district court in July last year.

She was one of the former victims who protested a deal reached between Japan and Korea last Dec. 28.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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