S. Korea to permanently keep records of former sex slaves

SEOUL, Dec. 30 (Yonhap) -- Records related to South Korean women forced into sexual slavery by Japan during World War II will be permanently kept as state-designated records, the government said Monday.

The National Archives of Korea said it will designate some 3,060 documents related to the former sex slaves being kept at "House of Sharing" as state records. The home is for the living former sex slaves and is located in Gwangju, just south of Seoul.

The records to be kept include the women's voice recordings, drawings, belongings and photos, as well as videos of rallies staged by the women against the Japanese government, the national archives said.

Historians say up to 200,000 women, including many Koreans, were coerced into sexual servitude by the Japanese army at front-line brothels during World War II when the Korean Peninsula was a Japanese colony.

Of the 237 Korean women who reported themselves as former sex slaves, only 56 are still alive.

State-designated records are critical records with national value that require permanent preservation. Once certain items are designated, the government will support their preservation, restoration and computerization.

"Historic and academic value of those records are very high because they include various types of records that are helpful in inquiring into sufferings by the former sex slaves and understanding activities of the living victims," an official at the national archives said. "The foreign ministry and other related government offices will be able to utilize them."

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