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(LEAD) Head of shelter for S. Korean 'comfort women' found dead: police

All Headlines 10:18 June 07, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details at bottom)

PAJU, South Korea, June 7 (Yonhap) -- The head of a shelter for surviving victims of Japan's wartime sexual slavery has been found dead, police said Sunday.

The 60-year-old head of the shelter run by the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance (KCJR), a NGO working for South Korea's "comfort women," was found dead at her apartment in Paju, north of Seoul, according to police officials.

Comfort women is a euphemism for the victims who were forced to work in Japanese front-line brothels during World War II when Korea was a Japanese colony. The shelter in question is located in the district of Mapo, western Seoul.

The death comes amid an on-going controversy at the KCJR, sparked by a prominent victim's allegation last month that a former chief of the group misused donations and exploited the victims for her political ambitions.

The former leader, Yoon Mee-hyang, won a seat in the National Assembly in April. Prosecutors have launched an investigation into the scandal and raided the shelter, as well as the KCJR office and its affiliated museum, last month.

The head of the shelter reportedly told those close to her that she was going through a hard time after the prosecution raid.

"There was no evidence of breach from outside. At this point, there are no suspicions of homicide," police said.

Investigators said they will decide whether to do an autopsy after consulting with the family.

South Korea currently has 17 surviving victims of the wartime sex slavery. Historians say that around 200,000 Asian women, mostly Koreans, were forcibly sent to front-line brothels to provide sex services for Japanese soldiers.

This file photo from May 21, 2020, shows prosecutors carrying out evidence from a shelter in Mapo, western Seoul, run by the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance, a NGO working for South Korea's 'comfort women, as part of an investigation over allegations that former chief of the group, Rep. Yoon Mee-hyang, misused donations and exploited the victims for her political ambitions. (Yonhap)

odissy@yna.co.kr
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