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Shelter for comfort women set to be closed following scandal

Politics 13:10 July 04, 2020

SEOUL, July 4 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean shelter for surviving victims of Japan's wartime sexual slavery is set to be closed as the last resident has recently left the place, the operator of the shelter said Saturday.

Surviving victim Gil Won-ok, 92, left the shelter on June 11 to stay at a church operated by her 61-year-old step son and priest Hwang Sun-hee, according to the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance (KCJR), a nongovernmental organization working for South Korea's "comfort women."

The KCJR said it has yet to decide when to suspend the shelter in Mapo, western Seoul, and return it to Myungsung Church, which owns the building.

The planned shutdown comes as the head of the shelter was found dead at her apartment in Paju, north of Seoul, early last month.

The death comes amid an on-going controversy at the KCJR, sparked by a prominent victim's allegation in May that Rep. Yoon Mee-hyang, former leader of the group, misused donations and exploited the victims for her political ambitions.

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.

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 sexual 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 KCJR, 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)

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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