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