South Korean comfort women stop protest to pray for Japan

SEOUL: South Korean comfort women during World War II halted their weekly protests outside the Japanese embassy in central Seoul on Wednesday, to pray for the victims of Japan’s quake and tsunami.

The women have been gathering outside the embassy every Wednesday for the past 19 years, shouting chants and demanding an apology from Japan for forcing them to work as sex slaves for Japanese troops during World War II.

However, this week they abandoned their angry emotions and chanted “be brave”, as they held a short prayer session for the victims of Japan’s disaster.

There were about 200 of them when they first went public in 1992, but only a handful are left to continue their demonstrations.

This is the second time the group has called off the demonstration; the first being the Kobe earthquake in 1995, when a similar tribute was made to the victims.

“We hate the sins they have committed. But we don’t hate the people. We really wish for them to recover quickly and get well soon,” said Ms Lee Yong Su, a former comfort woman.

In other parts of Seoul, various fundraising campaigns are underway, with reports saying more than 40,000 South Koreans have made donations to different fundraising organisations for Japan.

South Koreans have donated more than US$700,000 so far – as part of a nationwide campaign.

The donations – from ordinary Koreans – will be handed over to charity groups in Japan for relief activities.


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