Strange double standardsThe allegations that the House of Sharing in Gwangju, Gyeonggi, a shelter for survivors of Japanese wartime sexual slavery, had embezzled donations turned out to be true. According to findings by a joint probe by the Gyeonggi government and civilians, the operator of the House of Sharing exploited grayed survivors to draw money.
The shelter sent out letters to various organizations and pooled 8.8 billion won ($7.4 million) in donations over the last five years. The donators would have willingly made contributions in hopes to help the women who had hard lives. But the operator sent only 200 million won, or 2.3 percent from the donations, to the care center where survivors stayed. Even that money was spent on the facility, not on the individuals.
The rest went to building wealth for the center. It spent 2.6 billion won to buy land, expand the facility and build an exhibition hall and memorial park. Nearly 5 billion won was set aside for the purpose of building another care center for the elderly.
The House of Sharing was established by the Association of Korean Buddhist Orders led by the largest Jogye Order. Some of the board members who are all monks encouraged more donations to build an elderly care center while there are still surviving comfort women.
Given the expenditures, the foundation has regarded survivors as nothing but a means to draw donations from. The aged victims were even bullied if they were not obedient. Much of the spending was not recorded.
Similar charges were raised against the Mapo Shelter in Seoul run by the Korea Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan. Donations went to an individual account, and book-keeping was mostly sloppy. Donations were used to expand the facility and assets of the NGO instead of going to the survivors.
The probe on the House of Sharing was led by a civilian-public group that does not have investigative rights. Still, it came out with results after a long probe. But the investigation of the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance is led by a Seoul district prosecutors’ office. Months have passed since it took up the case, but it has been sitting on its hands and has not even arranged a summoning for ruling party lawmaker Yoon Mee-hyang, former head of the council.
During the stalling, the leadership of the Seoul Western District Prosecutors’ Office has changed. The government has been pressuring the office to drop the case. Its hypocrisy gives the government no right to speak of the pains of comfort women and argue for moral justice against Japan.