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Korea to permanently keep records of former sex slaves

Records related to South Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery by Japan during World War II will be permanently kept as state-designated records, the government said Monday.

The National Archives of Korea said it has given a one-month notice of its plan to designate some 3,060 records related to the former sex slaves being kept at “House of Sharing,” the home for the living former sex slaves in Gwangju, just south of Seoul, earlier this month.

The records to be kept include the women‘s voice recordings, drawings, belongings, and photos and videos of rallies staged by the women against the Japanese government, the national archives said.

The final designation will be made when the notice period is over on Dec. 14 through a screening of the government committee on the management of state records, the office said.

Historians say up to 200,000 women, including many Koreans, were coerced into sexual servitude by the Japanese army at front-line brothels during the war when the Korean Peninsula was a Japanese colony.

Among the 237 Korean women who reported themselves as former sex slaves, only 56 are still alive.

State-designated records are critical records with national value that require permanent preservation. Once certain items are designated, the government will support preservation, restoration and computerization of them.

The government says it will use the records of former sex slaves when it demands an apology and compensation from Tokyo on the issue in the future.

The designation “is for preserving and managing the nationally important records related to the so-called ’comfort women,‘ so the records are not damaged or lost as the women continue to pass away without descendants,” an official with the national archives said requesting not to be named.

“The Foreign Ministry and other related government offices will be able to utilize them.” (Yonhap News)