A funeral for the late Kim Kun-ja, a South Korean woman who was forced to work in front-line brothels for Japanese troops during World War II, was held Tuesday and attended by her family and friends as well as politicians and activists.
The two-phase Buddhist funeral service took place at the CHA Bundang Medical Center south of Seoul and at the House of Sharing, a shelter for former comfort women in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province. Comfort women is euphemistic term for the victims of Japan's sexual slavery.
A participant carries a portrait of Kim Kun-ja, a victim of Japan`s wartime sexual enslavement, during her funeral at a hospital south of Seoul on July 25, 2017. Kim, who died two days ago at the age of 91, was one of tens of thousands of young Korean girls, known as "comfort women," who were forced into sexual slavery for Japanese soldiers at front-line brothels. (Yonhap)
Approximately 100 guests, including Democratic Party Reps. So Byung-hoon and Lim Jong-seong, Gyeonggi Province Deputy Gov. Kang Duck-gu, former comfort women, Kim's friends and bereaved family, attended the ceremony.
"We will recover your honor by engraving your words calling for the Japanese government to publicly apologize and be held legally liable into our hearts," House of Sharing's Venerable Wonhaeng said in a eulogy.
Rep. So also paid tribute to Kim, calling her a "victim of a heartbreaking history" and promised to remember her legacy as someone who led the charge in standing up for the historical truth. Kim's remains were cremated and enshrined at a memorial park in Seoul.
Kim was 91 when she passed away Sunday. She was born in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province. Kim was forcefully mobilized by Japan to "comfort facilities" in China's northeastern province of Jilin at the age of 17. She tried to commit suicide seven times during her three years there.
She drew attention to the wartime crime by Japan by attending a hearing on comfort women hosted by then US Congressman Mike Honda in February 2007 and testifying about her experience.
Most of the 37 remaining survivors of the gross human rights abuse are in their 80s or 90s.
The comfort women issue has been a long-time thorn between South Korea and Japan, which occupied the Korean Peninsula from 1910-45.
Historians estimate that up to 200,000 Asian women, mostly from Korea, were mobilized by the Japanese military to work in front-line brothels.
In late 2015, the two neighbors reached a deal to resolve the issue with an apology and compensation from Tokyo. But some of the Korean victims have rejected the agreement, saying the apology is not sincere, nor is it enough to address their grievances. (Yonhap)