Rare film of WWII ‘com­fort women’ found after 2-year hunt

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

SEOUL: The Seoul govern­ment has re­leased rare video footage of Korean women forced to work in Ja­panese mil­i­tary broth­els dur­ing World War II, the first time mov­ing im­ages have been shown of the “com­fort women”.

A govern­ment-funded re­search team from Seoul Na­tional Univer­sity found the footage, which was filmed in 1944 by an Amer­i­can sol­dier, in the US Na­tional Archives after a two-year hunt.

“South Korea has not had its own data on com­fort women and (has) been re­ly­ing on Ja­panese and Amer­i­can data,” said Kang Sung-hyun, an aca­demic on the team.

“It is cru­cial for South Korea to have our own data for the is­sue of com­fort women.”

The 18-se­cond black-and-white clip shows seven women lined up out­side a brick house, be­ing ques­tioned by Chi­nese sol­diers. The women were found by US-China al­lied forces in China’s Yun­nan prov­ince, the re­search team said, and were reg­is­tered by US sol­diers.

Two of the women had ap­peared in pre­vi­ously re­leased pho­tos of “com­fort women”.

The term de­scribes girls and women from South Korea, China, the Philip­pines and else­where, who were forced into pros­ti­tu­tion in Ja­panese wartime mil­i­tary broth­els. South Korean ac­tivists es­ti­mate there may have been as many as 200 000 Korean vic­tims.

Ja­pan and South Korea agreed to re­solve the is­sue “fi­nally and ir­re­versibly” in 2015, if all con­di­tions were met. Ja­pan made an apol­ogy and promised ¥1 bil­lion for a fund to help vic­tims.

The is­sue con­tin­ues to strain re­la­tions be­tween the coun­tries.

Ja­pan wants South Korea to re­move a statue near the Ja­panese con­sulate in Bu­san com­mem­o­rat­ing Korean com­fort women, and an­other near the Ja­panese em­bassy in Seoul, saying they vi­o­late the agree­ment.

South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in sug­gested most South Kore­ans did not accept the 2015 deal ne­go­ti­ated by his pre­de­ces­sor. Reuters

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