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Late 'comfort woman' recognized for lifelong human rights activities with Amnesty Award

All News 17:47 April 29, 2020

SEOUL, April 29 (Yonhap) -- The late Kim Bok-dong, a former sex slavery victim-turned human rights activist, received Wednesday a posthumous award from Amnesty International in recognition of her passion for and efforts toward the human rights of sex slavery victims.

The Korean branch of the U.K.-based non-governmental organization has chosen the late activist as a recipient of the 22nd Amnesty International Korea Media Awards, acknowledging Kim's dedication to justice for sex slavery victims.

Up to 200,000 women, mostly Koreans, were forced into sexual servitude in Japanese military brothels during World War II, when the Korean Peninsula was under Japanese colonial rule, according to historians. Those sex slaves were euphemistically called "comfort women."

The picture shows the 22nd Amnesty International Korea Media Awards, which was given to Kim Bok-dong, a late human rights activist, in an ceremony held in downtown Seoul on April 29, 2020. (Yonhap)

The award ceremony took place during the decadeslong weekly protest in downtown Seoul to support the victims and condemn Japan's repeated denials of wartime atrocities.

"Activist Kim Bok-dong never gave up on committing herself to efforts to ensure that hurts and misery she had experienced would never be repeated again onto others till the day she left this world," said Shin Min-jeong, head of Amnesty International's Korean branch.

"Her work deeply moved us, gave courage throughout the world and inspired us," she said during the award ceremony. The posthumous award was given to Lee Na-young, head of The Korean Council, the organizer of the weekly protest.

The protest, which began in 1992, has been replaced by online events due to the coronavirus pandemic for the past two months, but Wednesday's event was physically attended by a small group of activists and officials.

"We hope the Japanese government acknowledges its past wartime crimes sometime in the future in order not to repeat the tragic history," said the organizer in a statement, adding that it would continue working "alongside with wartime victims who courageously face up to the Japanese government in denial of history."

An altar for the late Kim Bok-dong, a victim of Japan's wartime sexual enslavement, is set up at Severance Hospital in western Seoul on Jan. 29, 2019. Kim died of cancer the previous day. (Yonhap)


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