‘Comfort woman’ dies, leaving only 33 alive

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‘Comfort woman’ dies, leaving only 33 alive

An elderly victim of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery died Saturday, bringing the number of victims still alive to only 33.

Lee Ki-jeong, who was forced into sexual slavery at a Japanese military brothel in Singapore at the age of 15, died of old age at a hospital in Dangjin, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Seoul, around 8:35 a.m. She was 93.

Lee has told activists working for the victims that she went to Singapore thinking she would become a nurse, but ended up at the brothel, known as a “comfort station.”

Lee had stayed at a shelter for sexual slavery victims in Gwangju, south of Seoul.

Her death brings the number of sexual slavery victims still alive to only 33.

Historians estimate that up to 200,000 women, mostly from Korea, were forced to work in front-line brothels for Japanese troops during wartime.

In December 2015, Seoul and Tokyo reached a deal to resolve the issue, in which Tokyo expressed an apology for its colonial-era atrocities and agreed to provide 1 billion yen ($9.16 million) for a foundation aimed at supporting the victims.

But the agreement has been deeply unpopular in South Korea amid criticism that the government of then-President Park Geun-hye agreed never to raise the issue again in exchange for compensation, without agreement from the victims.

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