South Korea held a series of events to commemorate the international memorial day on Friday for Asian women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II. The government-led national ceremony marking the International Memorial Day for Comfort Women took place at the Hill of National Commemoration in Cheonan, south of Seoul, with the slogan of “memory for the future.”
Watch the Ceremony ‘Comfort Women’: An Injustice to Womanhood Says South Korea
About 100 people, including senior citizens of south Korean women sexually enslaved by the imperial Japanese army, participated in the event on Friday. In a video message on the occasion, President Moon Jae-in vowed to make constant efforts to resolve the issue that has been a source of diplomatic rifts with Japan for decades. South Koreans have called on Japan to offer a sincere apology and compensation for the victims, but the neighbouring country has remained silent throughout these years.
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“The most important principle of resolving the problem is ‘victim-centrism,'” he said. “The government will do its best to map out realistic and practical methods so that the victims’ courage and dedication can get repaid with the restoration of dignity and honor.”
After designated it to a national memorial day, It is the third time that the government has hosted a national ceremony commemorating the day since 2018. The International Memorial Day for Comfort Women falls on Aug. 14, the day when the South Korean, late Kim Hak-soon, a former comfort woman, first publicly testified against Japan operating an organized military brothel program during the war in 1991.
It was also the Liberation Day, which marks the end of the 1910-1945 Japanese colonial era in southern Asia. Also during the ceremony, Lee Jung-ok, minister of gender equality and family, said it is time for the current generation to respond to those who dedicated their lives to shed light on the comfort women issue. “The testimony by Kim Hak-soon resonated across the globe, revealing the truth and the violence against women,” she said. “Now we have to think of what we can learn from the tragedy in history.”
The government opened a digital archive with more than 500 files of documents and materials about “comfort women,” a euphemistic term for the former sex slaves. The online depository www.archive814.co.k includes reports by the United Nations during the Korean War and official statements by the Japanese government. According to historians, up to 200,000 women, mostly Koreans were coerced into sexual servitude in front-line Japanese brothels when the Korean Peninsula was a Japanese colony and through the world war.