May 12 (UPI) -- A prominent South Korean activist who advanced the cause of former comfort women is at the center of attention for her role in the creation of the Japanese-funded Reconciliation and Healing Foundation in 2015.
Yoon Mi-hyang, president of the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, has been accused of failing to notify past victims of Japanese wartime policy about the fund, which was later rejected by the women.
Former comfort woman Lee Yong-soo said last week at a press conference that Yoon, a lawmaker-elect with the ruling Democratic Party, "knew of the $10 million fund," Newsis reported Tuesday.
"Only the victims did not know," Lee said.
The creation of the foundation was rejected among many of the former comfort women, including Kim Bok-dong, a prominent survivor who was one of the first women to break the silence on her experience as a sex slave during World War II. At the time, the Korean Council had claimed the government did not consult the group before creating the fund.
Those claims are being challenged in Seoul.
Cho Tae-yong, a former deputy minister with the National Security Office at the presidential Blue House during the Park Geun-hye administration, recently said he received a report at the time that a foreign ministry official had "sufficiently discussed" the details of the agreement with Yoon.
The Korean Council is fighting accusations that Yoon had foreknowledge of the Japanese fund.
On Monday, the group told reporters they were not notified of the deal with Tokyo until Dec. 27, 2015, a day before the formal announcement. They also said they were not informed of the $10 million amount ahead of time. The foreign ministry supported some of the claims on Tuesday.
As the war of words escalates between Yoon and her opponents, a defendant accused of embezzling funds from another comfort woman was acquitted on Tuesday, according to Yonhap.
The defendant, a South Korean man in his 70s, was found not guilty of embezzling nearly $200,000 in funds from 2012 to 2016. He was acting as a guardian for former comfort woman Lee Gwi-nyeo, a South Korean court ruled Tuesday. Lee died in 2018.