Funeral Proceedings Held for South Korean Wartime Sex Slave Victim

D-Bo, Dec. 7, 2015, 8:19 a.m.

Family members of a South Korean woman who was forced into sexual slavery for Japanese soldiers during World War II mourned the death of their loved one during her humble funeral on Monday. Choi Gab-soon, 96, died of natural causes at a hospital in Namyangju, east of Seoul, on Saturday, reducing the number of surviving victims to 46.

Some 10 people, including Choi's family and activists from the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, a civic group working to help the victims, took part in the funeral at a hospital in the city. Her death leaves only 46 surviving victims of one of the most serious wartime crimes by Japan when it colonized the Korean Peninsula from 1910-45. Initially, 238 women were on the list of government-registered former sex slaves.

Choi, who was born in 1919, was forced into sexual slavery when she was 15. She came back home after Korea was freed from the Japanese colonial rule. Only 238 women have been registered with the South Korean government as former sex slaves, though historians estimate that more than 200,000 women, mostly Koreans, were forced to work at front-line brothels for Japanese soldiers during the war.

South Korea has urged Japan to resolve the grievances of the victims, saying the issue is becoming increasingly urgent as most victims are elderly, well over 80 years old, and may die before they receive compensation or an apology from Japan. Tokyo, however, insists the issue was settled under the normalization treaty of 1965.

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