Every Korean knows “Sexual slavery victims for the Japanese imperial army”. They are people who were exploited sexually and mentally by the Japanese government in the Japanese occupation period. Since the public wanted to help them, they started to donate to the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan (The Korean Council). Nowadays, some members of the group raised suspicions about the donation. After this issue, people have expressed feelings of betrayal and now have doubts about the place where the donations were handled.
According to the National Basic Living Security Act, the government and a local government must promote and protect the right of the victims. According to the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea, the Japanese government gave 500 million dollars to the Korea government in 1965. After this affair, the Japanese government insists on neither paying nor apologizing for the damage done to Korean victims. The Japanese government has not expressed any regret for “Japanese military sexual slavery.” The Korean victims have held a rally every Wednesday in front of the Embassy of Japan in Korea and, Korea civil society organizations have solicited for contributions to support victims.
Lee Young-su, a victim of “Japanese military sexual slavery”, demanded to open the contribution usage history to the Korean Council on May 7 at the press conference. She said that the Korean Council had taken care of victims badly and misused donations including using 10 percent of the total donation for their private interests. On May 8, Yoon Mi-hyang, who was the last representative of the Korean Council, said that it was just mistake in adjusting accounts and that Lee Young-su may be mistaken about abusing donations. On May 13 rally that followed the controversy over embezzlement of donations, Lee Na-young, who is now representative of the group, claimed about this suspicion, saying we did not use donation illegally or personally, but found some mistakes on account books. Our account books will be verified again by private-run accountants."
After the issue of donation was brought up to the surface, additional corruptions related to the Korean Council have been revealed. Yoon Mi-hyang's father lived in the welfare center in Ansung for a long time. This center was built to help in the healing process of “Sexual slavery victims for the Japanese imperial army”. According to an interview with residents, victims used the center only three to four times a year. The center which was built and operated with donors' money has been used as a private house.
Besides, the House of sharing located in Gwangju also was under the prosecutor's investigation in allegations of corruption. Some parties concerned this center tipped off information to police through anonymous reports. Kim Dae-wol a staff member of House of Sharing insists said, "Managements have not used funding for the well-being and living of “Sexual slavery victims for the Japanese imperial army”. They did not know and care what the grandmothers want." Those deeds are against the law, according to the National Basic Living Security Act. According to the Act 10, special metropolitan city mayor, metropolitan city mayor and governor must report life conditions to the minister of gender equality and family every year.
More over 20 thousand people wanted an investigation into the allegation, and posted a petition to the Blue House. In this regard, Han Kyung-hee who is a Secretary-General of the Korean Council said, “The Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan has supported victims by donating money correctly. It is too harsh to release details of the donation. And I do not know which Non-Governmental Organization should disclose such things.” In response to these remarks, Lee Han-sang, an accounting expert and professor of business administration at Korea University, said. “Transparency and accountability are the basic requirements of civic groups. So, it is illogical not to open accounts and details of usage.”
Even now, the Korean Council has to pour out truth about donation usage and apologize sincerely to all donors and victims for causing confusion. People should observe this case with interest until the end of the incident to unearth truth. With this as a momentum, the National Tax Service should conduct a special tax audit of donation organizations to prevent such incidents from happening ever again.
On May 26, the Public Prosecutor General said. “The prosecution has to investigate promptly all of suspicions which are raised through the Press.” Sexual slavery victims are regrettable sufferers from a painful history. They need the public's durable attention and support in order to get over sad memories.