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Injured S. Korean ex-sex slave to be transported from China

All News 11:18 April 10, 2016

WUHAN, China/SEOUL, April 10 (Yonhap) -- A former Korean sex slave in China who has suffered serious injuries due to an accident will be transported to her home country on Sunday so she can be treated at a local hospital.

Ha Sang-sook, 88, is the last-surviving victim in China of Japan's World War II sexual slavery of Asian women who keeps her South Korean nationality.

She broke her rib and pelvis after falling down a staircase on Feb. 15 while quarreling with a neighbor.

She recently regained consciousness after receiving treatment in an intensive care unit at a hospital in Wuhan, a city where she resides in China's Hubei Province. But she is having difficulty breathing, as the broken rib has sparked an infection in her lung, government officials said.

South Korea's Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and Consulate General in Wuhan said on Friday that they decided to have her treated at ChungAng University Hospital in Seoul upon request from her family in China.

Her transfer to Seoul was scheduled after a team of doctors from the hospital visited her early this month for her diagnosis and judged it would be no problem to move her to South Korea.

When Ha is moved to Seoul, she will be accompanied by a four-member medical team from the South Korean medical institution as well as her daughter and granddaughter.

Korean Air Lines Co. said it put a bigger plane on the Wuhan-Incheon route and recomposed part of its inner space to make room for Ha's bed.

The Chinese authorities also agreed to have an ambulance carrying her to move directly to the apron of Wuhan Tianhe International Airport without passing the check-in counter.

After two and a half hours of flight, Ha is scheduled to land at the airport at 4 p.m. (Korean time) before being transported by the medical team to their hospital.

In the hospital, she will be admitted to an intensive care unit and get the necessary medical tests and treatment.

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family will cover all expenses for her treatment in Seoul.

"We'll render full support so she can make a fast recovery in her home country," Minister Kang Eun-hee said in a statement.

At the age of 17, she was forced to serve as a sex slave in Wuhan for Japanese troops during World War II. Even after Japan's defeat in the war, she did not return to her home country, according to her family. She lived in South Korea for a few years after recovering her South Korean citizenship in 1999 but returned to China because she had no living relatives in her home country.

She is known to have spoken to her relatives that she misses her homeland so much and wants to die in South Korea where her parents are buried, according to government officials.

Historians estimate the historical number of sex slaves at about 200,000, with less than 45 South Korean victims alive today.

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