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(2nd LD) Injured S. Korean ex-sex slave transfered to Seoul from China

All Headlines 20:52 April 10, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS more details in paras 5, 12)

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

After a two-and-a-half hour flight, Ha Sang-sook, the last-surviving victim in China of Japan's World War II sexual slavery of Asian women who keeps her South Korean nationality, landed at an airport in South Korea, and was transported to ChungAng University Hospital in Seoul.

The 88-year old woman was admitted to the intensive care unit and to receive the necessary medical tests and treatment.

But she is still in critical condition, and the university's medical team will decide on whether she will receive surgery after a medical checkup, according to hospital officials.

The hospital said Ha is unlikely to fully recover even after treatment here because she has long suffered from asthma and high blood pressure.

Ha 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 has difficulty breathing, as the broken rib 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 a hospital in Seoul.

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

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.

The minister said the government will help her settle here if she wants to stay.

The ministry has already covered some 48 million won worth of expenses for Ha's treatment in China.

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.

sam@yna.co.kr
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