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Korean students set to embark on bicycle tour cross U.S. to raise awareness of 'comfort women'

Three South Korean college students have arrived in Los Angeles on a mission to travel 6,000 kilometers across the United States by bicycle in an effort to raise awareness of Japan's wartime sexual slavery.

The students -- Kim Hyun-koo, 25, of Hansung University and Kim Han-kyun, 25, and Kim Tae-woo, 24, of Kyung Hee University -- flew in to the Los Angeles airport Sunday evening, and plan to embark on the journey on Saturday.

They plan to reach Chicago on Aug. 7, Washington on Aug. 22 and New York on Sept. 4. On the way, they also plan to attend "Wednesday allies" to be held in major cities to demand Tokyo offer a sincere apology and compensation to sexual slavery victims.

They are the second group of South Korean college students to make the bicycle trip on the so-called "Triple A" project, which stands for a call for Japan to "admit" and "apology" for the wartime crime and a resolve to "accompany" victims.

Last year, two 22-year-old students -- Shim Yong-seok and Baek Deok-yeol -- completed a similar bicycle trip.

Historians estimate that up to 200,000 women, mainly from Korea, a Japanese colony from 1910 to 1945, were forced to work in front-line brothels for Japanese soldiers during World War II. But Japan has long attempted to water down the atrocity.

In late December, Seoul and Tokyo agreed to resolve the issue under an agreement that centers on Japan's admission of responsibility for the wartime crime and plans to pay reparations to the victims. South Korea promised to end the dispute once and for all if Japan fulfills its responsibilities.

Some civic groups, however, including one that has spoken for victims, have denounced the agreement as diplomatic collusion between the two countries, arguing that Japan should have offered a clearer apology and acknowledged its legal responsibility for the atrocity. (Yonhap)