Seoul, Jan. 15 (CNA) South Korea plans to partner with Taiwan, China and Southeast Asian countries in seeking to obtain United Nations world documentary heritage status for “comfort women,” a Korean official said Wednesday.

“We will file an application with the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to list ‘comfort women’ in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register,” said Kim Un-ji, a section chief with the Korean Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.

In the process, Kim said, South Korea will cooperate with countries that fell victim to Japanese colonization and saw their women turned into sex slaves — euphemistically known as “comfort women” — by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.

Kim pledged that South Korea would seek Taiwan’s support in the pursuit because the two countries have maintained close cooperation on the issue.

Former Taiwanese comfort women have on many occasions voiced support for their Korean counterparts’ efforts to seek a formal apology from Japan for its previous brutality, Kim said.

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family is collecting “comfort women”-related data and information from South Korea, Taiwan, China, major Southeast Asian countries and Japan, according to a recent Yonhap News Agency report.

The ministry is scheduled to finalize compilation of all data and documents by the end of this year and will submit it to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism early next year in preparation for filing an application to inscribe “comfort women” in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, the report said.

The United Nations must decide on the application within one year after receiving it.

If all goes well, “comfort women” could be designated as a UNESCO documentary heritage in 2017, the Yonhap report said.

The Korean government will sponsor a series of seminars and activities to help the world better understand the need to list “comfort women” in the Memory of the World Register, the report added.

(By Jiang Yuan-jen and Sofia Wu, Focus Taiwan Channel)