Another comfort woman dies

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Another comfort woman dies

A Korean woman forced to work in a Japanese military brothel during World War II died over the weekend, a civic group supporting the victims of sexual slavery said Saturday.

Park Yu-nyeon died at her foster son’s house in Massachusetts, Arizona, at around 3:35 a.m. on Saturday, local time. She was 93. The cause of death was reportedly a chronic illness in her lungs and heart, according to the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan. Park’s physical condition was said to have deteriorated quickly this year.

Park’s death, also confirmed by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, reduces the number of surviving wartime sex slaves, euphemistically known as comfort women, to 47, down from the 238 women who registered with the government as victims of sexual slavery.

Seven other comfort women have passed away this year alone, with the last case reported early last month. Some hundreds of thousands of Koreans are believed to have worked as comfort women.

Park’s involvement in a Japanese military brothel dates to 1941, when she visited the southern port city of Busan with a friend at the age of 19. Cajoled by an unidentified person who told her she’d make a fortune by working as a nurse for the Japanese military, Park, along with six other Korean women, was mobilized to the island country and forced into prostitution.

Park was also forced to serve in a military brothel in Singapore, when Japan occupied the Southeast Asian country from 1942 to 1945.

Following Korea’s liberation from Japan, Park made a living selling wild vegetables in various cities nationwide. In 2007, she moved to her foster son’s house in the United States. Park will be buried nearby.

The comfort women issue has been a key source of friction between Seoul and Tokyo as the current Japanese government has yet to issue a formal apology to the victims. President Park Geun-hye stressed on numerous occasions she will not meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe until Japan shows a sincere attitude to deal with the comfort women issue.

Abe has consistently shied away from acknowledging Japan’s direct involvement in the operations, referring to comfort women as “those victimized by human-trafficking.”

Japan’s Asahi Shimbun reported Sunday that a draft of Abe’s statement to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II doesn’t include the word “apology” to Asian countries, or any similar wording for Japan’s role in the war. The draft included “remorse” for the war, the liberal newspaper wrote.

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