Korea remembers WWII sex slavery survivors on second memorial day

Some 300 government officials, activists, historians and citizens came together Wednesday for the second national memorial day for World War II sexual slavery survivors at the Kim Koo Museum in the Yongsan district of Seoul.

Last year, the government designated Aug. 14 a national memorial day, as on that day in 1991, Kim Hak-soon, a Korean victim of sex slavery, publicly came forward and testified on Japan’s wartime crimes. 

Gender Equality Minister Jin Sun-mee addresses some 300 guests at the memorial day for WWII sex slavery survivors Wednesday (Kim Arin/The Korea Herald)

Gender Equality Minister Jin Sun-mee said the ministry has pushed to disband the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation — which left survivors out of discussions — and pledged to come up with measures acceptable to the victims.

Michael Honda, a former US congressman, in a video address, commended the South Korean leadership “for recognizing the day Kim Hak-soon broke silence.” “It is a wonderful example to the world,” he said.

Honda authored the House of Representatives Resolution 121, passed July 30, 2007, which called on the Japanese government to acknowledge and apologize for its history of wartime sex slavery.

The California congressman has visited the House of Sharing, a shelter for sex slavery victims in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province, about five times, according to the shelter’s Director Ahn Shin-kwon.

“Congressman Honda thanked the survivors for their bravery, and told them their testimonies will help restore justice,” Ahn told The Korea Herald.

Eight survivors have died since last year’s memorial day. Twenty known survivors remain.

By Kim Arin (arin@heraldcorp.com)

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