Testimonies of sex slaves to be published in English

SEOUL, June 3 (Yonhap) -- A group of activists said Monday they are working to publish English documents that carry testimonies of elderly Korean women forced by Japan into sex slavery during World War II to let the world know of the bare facts.

The four-member team, comprised of professional translators and a foreign copy editor, began translating verbal evidence of former sex slaves in December with the support from the Korea Human Rights Foundation, a local non-profit, civic organization.

While their translation will be posted on the Web sites of relevant civic groups and research institutes, they also plan to publish a book with the English records and have been in discussion with a foreign publisher.

If materialized, it will be the first such English publication that systematically deals with testimonies of the victims, euphemistically called "comfort women."

Historians say some 200,000 women, mostly Koreans, were coerced into sexual servitude at front-line Japanese brothels during World War II. The Korean Peninsula was under Japan's brutal colonial rule from 1910 to 1945.

"So far, we have accumulated a relatively large quantity of data in Japanese. But despite their necessity, we don't have that many English documents," said an official of the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan.

"English materials professionally and systematically organized are needed to reveal the truth in legal, academic and political terms at a time when Japan continues to cover up its wartime atrocities and distort history," the official added.

With the goal to translate full texts of 10 Korean victims' testimonies into English, the team has so far completed translating remarks of six women and summarizing lifetime stories and experiences of 30 others.

The South Korean government began collecting verbal evidence and relevant records from former sex slaves in 1991 and has since accumulated stories of 234 victims.

"The project will bring to light wartime sex crimes we still can see in the world," translator Park Hye-ran said, adding that her team is also working to translate memoirs by World War II veterans.

"We also plan to publish English documents that deal with stories of foreign women victimized by imperial Japan in collaboration with international organizations."

With memories still vivid about the painful history, Japan has ignored Seoul's call for a formal apology and compensation, and even tried to deny the facts.

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