Former Korean Comfort Women Still Waiting for an Apology from Japan
"I was treated worse than an animal."
This is how most of the so-called "comfort women" describe their lives during World War II when they were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military.
An estimated 200-thousand women between the ages of 11 and 28 were drafted to "comfort stations" during the war, and fell victim to coercion, rape, and abuse almost every night.
Some girls were sent to overseas stations, but even after Korea gained independence, they were left there, due to prejudice and neglect from their own government and people.
The Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, or "Jeongdaehyup" in Korean, has been supporting the survivors and organizing numerous campaigns to protect their rights.
And this year, with Korea celebrating its 66th Independence Day, the council scheduled a special trip for two former comfort women living abroad to visit Korea.
[Interview : Roh Soo-bok, Former comfort woman] "I live in Thailand. I am speechlessly happy to be home, but it bothers me a great deal that I cannot speak Korean, even though I am Korean."
[Interview : Song Shin-do, Former comfort woman] "I was stabbed by a Japanese soldier and still have a scar on my back. What they did was beyond barbaric. If the Japanese government does not solve this problem, I will be mortified to die."
Jeongdaehyup has been holding weekly demonstrations in front of the Japanese Embassy here in Seoul every Wednesday for the past 20 years to raise public awareness not only in Korea and Japan, but also in the international community.
[Interview : Mary Hall, Visitor from US] "What happened to these women, it should not have happened. I will continue with this until these women have what they need. Their peace. They need peace."
And a representative from the organization says even after two decades of public campaigns and petitioning, the Japanese government has yet to offer an apology.
[Interview : Yoon Mee-hyang, Representative
Jeongdaehyup] "The Japanese government has still not recognized nor admitted its war crimes against these women, and has been avoiding legal responsibilities. A bill should be submitted to the Japanese Diet as soon as possible, in order to make the government apologize and provide proper compensation"
Out of the 234 registered former comfort women, more than two thirds have already passed away without having their last wish fulfilled, which was to see the Japanese government make a sincere apology.
And for those that are still alive they continue to wait for their own independence day.
Laah Hyun-kyung, Arirang News.
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