South Korea will step up efforts this year to raise the world's awareness of Japan's sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War II, designating a national day to honor the victims, the gender equality ministry said Tuesday.
"We'll make greater efforts to let the world know the Japanese sex slavery issue, which caused a great sensation at home and abroad during a recent international cartoon festival," the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family said in its 2014 policy report to President Park Geun-hye.
The ministry was referring to more than 20 cartoons, illustrations and videos that told the tragic stories of former sex slavery victims that were featured in a special exhibition held as part of the 2014 Angouleme International Comics Festival on Jan. 30-Feb. 2 in France. The event typically draws more than 7,000 cartoon industry people from around the world.
However, Japan came under international criticism for consistently trying to hinder the exhibition.
Japanese cartoonists even had their booth removed by the organizing committee one day before the opening for their unsuccessful attempt to display works that distorted the issue of wartime sex slaves during the festival.
The ministry said it will push to designate a national day to honor the Korean victims of the sex slavery, host various cultural and academic events and contests for students as well as sponsor films, documentaries and other content on the issue.
Also as part of the efforts, the government will accelerate its work to collect various records on the victims with an aim of getting them inscribed onto the UNESCO Memory of the World Register by 2017, the ministry said.
Last year, the government designated some 3,060 records related to the former sex slaves that are being kept at the "House of Sharing" as "state-designated records," which require permanent preservation for their national value.
The home, located in Gwangju, just southeast of Seoul, is for the living former sex slaves. The records include the women's voice recordings, drawings, belongings and photos, as well as videos of rallies staged by the women against the Japanese government.
Historians say up to 200,000 women, many of them Korean, were coerced into sexual servitude by the Japanese army at front-line brothels during World War II when the Korean Peninsula was a Japanese colony. Of the 237 Korean women who reported themselves as former sex slaves, only 55 are still alive.
During the policy report, the ministry also unveiled various plans to help working mothers who want to juggle work and home life. It also plans to support single mothers, multicultural families and families of North Korea defectors. (Yonhap)