Investigation must continueThe custodian overseeing a shelter for Japanese wartime sexual slavery survivors in Seoul was found dead in her apartment on Saturday night. Lee Na-young, head of the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for Issues of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan mourned the death of the woman who had “put the elderly survivors’ lives ahead of her own.” She had lived as the daughter and friend to the survivors for the last 16 years.
She died while a prosecutorial investigation on accounting irregularities and donation abuses of the civic group was underway. The shelter — Peaceful Our Home — located in Mapo, western Seoul, was raided last month. The Korean Council criticized the raid as “excessive” when it had agreed to hand over the necessary documents to prosecutors. The prosecution claimed the raid was inevitable because the lawyers of the council had not complied with the requests for documents and materials. The council denied the allegation and clashed with the prosecution.
The council claimed the director of the shelter had been pained by the sudden raid. The Seoul District Prosecutors’ Office which is spearheading the investigation expressed condolences to the deceased, but said it had not summoned or questioned her. Still, the prosecution office must clearly explain what really happened.
Nevertheless, the investigation must go on. Media reports suggested the council had embezzled public donations that should have gone to the survivors by cooking the accounting books. Public suspicion and distrust have been brewing. Ruling Democratic Party lawmaker Yoon Mee-hyang, who had headed the council, has not fully explained herself or all the allegations surrounding her. She refused to disclose her records that could explain her actions, claiming she must get ready for a prosecutorial probe. Even as allegations built up, she started her legislative term. Lawmakers have the legal protection to avoid an arrest during their term in office.
The council issued a statement to stop speculation about the deceased. The media also must refrain from a hyped reporting competition that can pain the survivors and volunteers who have devoted their lives to fighting for the rights of the victims. The role of the prosecution has become greater. The prosecution promised to find the truth. It must keep to its words so as not to discredit the 30-year-long civilian fight for the rights of the survivors of wartime crime.
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