‘Comfort women’ victim dies, survivors down to 48

Another victim of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery has died from a chronic illness, according to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, Monday.

Seven former “comfort women” have died this year. Only 48 victims are still alive in South Korea, where 238 women were once registered with the government as former sex slaves.

Choi Kum-seon passed away around 11:20 p.m. at a hospital on Sunday. She was 89.
She suffered from pneumonia and septicemia and has been hospitalized since 2007.

A memorial alter was set up at Shinhwa Hospital in Yeongdeungpo-gu, southern Seoul, and Gender Equality and Family Minister Kim Hee-jung visited to offer her condolences, Monday.

Choi’s relatives said she will be buried at a cemetery in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province.

Born in 1925, Choi was taken by Japanese police on her way to her friend’s house in 1941 when she was only 16.

She was then “drafted” into a Japanese military brothel in Harbin in eastern China.
Choi escaped the brothel to Pyongyang in 1942 but could not return to her family because she feared being captured again.

She worked as a waitress for a year at a coffee shop in Songnim, now in North Korea.
Choi married there and moved to Seoul with her husband when she was 19.

“There is not much time left for those surviving victims. I hope Japan will look straight at the history and take responsibility for these women,” Minister Kim said.

More than 200,000 women, mostly Koreans, are believed to be enslaved sexually by Japanese military before and during World War II.

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