A former South Korean 'comfort women' for US troops named Cho Myung-ja has filed a legal suit against her own government.
Besides Cho, 122 surviving comfort women, as they were called, filed a suit on June 25, sixty-four years after the Korean War. In the lawsuit, these women are seeking to reclaim human dignity and proper compensation.
The suit is set to create trouble for the South Korean government, which has repeatedly maintained that Japan must take proper measures to atone for the atrocities committed by the Japanese forces during World War Two, including forcing women, many of them Korean, to serve as sex slaves for its soldiers.
In the lawsuit, the women claimed that they were trained by the South Korean government and then they joined hands with pimps to run a sex trade through the 1960s and 1970s for U.S. troops. They also encouraged women to work as prostitutes and violated their human rights.
The suit was lodged with the Seoul Central District Court and the women have demanded 10 million won ($9,800) in compensation per plaintiff. The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family declined to comment on the lawsuit but the US military in South Korea said it was aware of reports of the lawsuit.
"USFK has a zero tolerance for prostitution and human trafficking," a U.S. Forces in Korea spokesman said. "Prostitution and human trafficking are cruel, demeaning and incompatible with our military core values."
In the 1960s, South Korea was desperate to keep US troops after fighting a devastating war with North Korea. At that time, Pyongyang wanted its women to serve as "patriots" and "civilian diplomats" but these titles did not actually reflect the life they led.