Former Sex Slaves Mark 22nd Anniversary of Protests

Former sex slaves marked 22 years of weekly protests in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on Wednesday. The women were forced to serve as prostitutes for Japanese soldiers during World War II.

The protests, organized by the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, started on Jan. 8, 1992 ahead of a visit to Korea by then Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa. Since then they have taken place 1,108 times every Wednesday almost without interruption.

The women, who were initially ashamed to show themselves in public, began taking part since the seventh protest.

Among the victims taking part in the latest protest were Kim Bok-dong (88) and Kil Won-ok (85), who were joined by some 200 activists and students from all over the country. The participants read aloud a statement urging the Japanese government to sincerely apologize and compensate the victims of World War II atrocities.

Former sex slaves, Kil Won-ok (left) and Kim Bok-dong, blow out candles with volunteers to mark the 22nd anniversary of protests in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on Wednesday. Former sex slaves, Kil Won-ok (left) and Kim Bok-dong, blow out candles with volunteers to mark the 22nd anniversary of protests in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government has tried to block the Korean government's plans for an exhibition publicizing the plight of the former sex slaves at an international comic strip festival in France.

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family plans to feature 20 comics and four movies produced by prominent Korean cartoonists including Lee Hyun-se and Park Jae-dong, focusing on the suffering of the victims. But the Japanese Embassy in France asked organizers of the festival to halt the exhibition, claiming it was "inappropriate" for a comic strip festival. The organizers rejected Japan's demands.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jan. 09, 2014 12:16 KST