2 South Korean Comfort Women Offer Victims of Japanese Earthquake $1,150
Michael Song, April 21, 2016, 8:02 a.m.
Two South Korean victims of Japan’s sexual slavery during World War II on Thursday offered humanitarian assistance totaling 1.3 million won ($1,150) to quake-hit regions in Japan. Kim Bok-dong, 90, and Kil Won-ok, 87, offered the money to aid Japan’s rescue and restoration efforts for the disaster-stricken Kumamoto prefecture.
The first quake on April 14 and the larger magnitude-7.3 quake 27 hours later left 48 people dead and more than 1,100 injured, with aftershocks continuing to strike the area. At Wednesday’s regular rally demanding Japan’s apology for their sexual enslavement, Kim and Kil also asked their supporters to join their move to help Japan.
“We are not fighting against Japanese people,” Kim said. “We cannot just sit back and see victims of the earthquakes. Please join us in raising funds for them.” The Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, which has been fighting for former sex slaves’ rights, said that it would also provide Japan with humanitarian aid in the near future.
Meanwhile, the government Thursday unveiled a plan to launch a preparatory committee as early as next month to establish a foundation aimed at supporting the former comfort women.
The move follows the landmark deal between Seoul and Tokyo on Dec. 28 in which the two countries agreed to end the decades-long dispute “finally and irreversibly.” Without an official apology, the Japanese prime minister expressed “regret” to the comfort women and pledged to pay 1 billion yen into the foundation for the 46 surviving victims.
The former comfort women, however, have lashed out at the settlement that was made without consulting them. They are staging a sit-in protest every Wednesday in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul to call for a formal apology from Japan and its government-funded compensation.