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South Korea 'comfort women' activist denies allegations

South Korean organization Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery is facing charges of misappropriating funds. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI
South Korean organization Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery is facing charges of misappropriating funds. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

May 29 (UPI) -- The South Korean activist accused of misappropriating funds for surviving "comfort women" said Friday at a press conference the charges from former victim Lee Yong-soo are false.

Yoon Mi-hyang, former head of the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery, said Lee, 91, made unfounded claims about not receiving any of the funds collected over three decades, local television network YTN reported Friday.

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"After deeply contemplating Grandmother Lee Yong-soo's points and tremendous perspective, I have found it is not true that we never delivered money raised for the victims," Yoon said.

Earlier this month, Lee had said the council hid funds that were collected to help the women, including many suffering from declining health.

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"The collected funds should have been used to help the [victims], but they have never used the money," Lee had said, referring funds from the public, including middle and high school students.

During the briefing on Friday, Yoon did not disclose the total amount of funds raised over three decades. The activist claimed the group raised enough money in 1992 to distribute about $2,000 per victim.

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Referring to the 1995 Asian Women's Fund, a collection organized by Japanese professors, Yoon claimed the funds were "rejected" and the council carried out its own donation drive in South Korea, and was able to distribute about $35,000 per victim. Yoon did not mention the fate of the Asian Women's Fund; donors have claimed the money never reached the victims who applied to receive it, according to Lauren Richardson, director of studies and lecturer at the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy at the Australian National University.

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Yoon also said victims who "rejected" the 1 billion yen or $9 million fund created in 2015 following an agreement between Tokyo and Seoul each received about $81,000 following a council-initiated fundraising.

Yoon did not address allegations about personal real estate deals that were made using donations. She also did not mention other instances of distribution to the victims in the group's 30-year history.

Yoon denied allegations she and others urged North Korean waitresses who had defected to repatriate to the North, according to Yonhap on Friday.

RELATED South Korea legal group denies urging repatriation of defectors

"These are all falsehoods," she said.

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