|Lee Ok-sun, a former “comfort woman.” (Yonhap News)|
Former “comfort women” seeking compensation from the Japanese government for sexual enslavement filed for mediation with the Seoul Central District Court on Tuesday.
This is the first time they have filed a suit in Korea.
Represented by lawyer Kim Kang-won, the 12 women are seeking 100 million won ($90,000) each in compensation.
According to Kim, the plaintiffs had intended to sue for 2 billion won compensation each, but the figure was lowered to reduce legal costs, which are proportional to the compensation sought.
Kim also said that he plans to file suits for other victims.
The plaintiffs will, however, need to file and win a suit in a Japanese court to receive the compensation, even if the Seoul court rules in their favor.
Tuesday’s suit is said to have been launched on the basis of a 2011 ruling from the Constitutional Court of Korea, and recent rulings from Seoul and Busan courts that ordered Japanese firms to compensate Koreans who were forced into working for them during the 1930s and 1940s.
In 2011, the Constitutional Court ruled that the Korean government’s lack of effort in trying to resolve the issue with Japan was a violation of the victims’ rights.
Comfort women served as sex slaves to the Japanese military while the Korean Peninsula was under Japan’s colonial rule. Japan denies that the women were forced into sexual slavery, and has refused to pay any compensation to the women, arguing it fulfilled all related obligations through the 1965 Korea-Japan Claims Settlement Agreement.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com