At 5AM on June 8, another victim of Japan’s wartime sex slavery passed away.
According to the House of Sharing located in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province, Bae Chunhee died at the age of 91. Now, there are just 54 surviving victims.
Bae was born in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province in 1923. At 19, she was deceived by an employer who promised her a decent job in Manchuria, but forced her into Japan’s wartime sex slavery. After four years, she came back to Korea. However, she failed to adjust to a new life in her home country, left for Japan, and lived there for a long time. Nicknamed ‘Enca,’ she started her singing career until the early 1980s when she returned to Korea at the invitation of her relative who only took advantage of Bae and took away her money. Since her experience of being betrayed, Bae has not trusted anyone.
In 1993, Bae registered with the Korean government as a comfort woman victim. Three years later, she was admitted into the House of Sharing. At the shelter, she was well-known for her talent in drawing, singing, and playing the Janggu which is the most widely used drum in the traditional music of Korea. In addition, she spoke fluent Japanese, Chinese, and Russian.
Lawmaker Kim Jenam of the Justice Party paid tribute to Bae in an article he contributed. Kim said "Bae was an artist. She excelled in drawing and singing and used her talent to comfort her friends and to raise public awareness of the comfort women issue. I feel sorry that we can’t hear Bae sing again and that we failed to resolve her deep sorrow and heal her scars while she was alive."
He added "We have to urge the Japanese government to apologize earnestly and compensate the remaining 54 victims. Bilateral talks that began in April will be held regularly to resolve the issue and we have high expectations that both Korea and Japan would do their utmost."
Bae’s funeral was held on June 10 at the House of Sharing and her body was laid in state in Haeinsa, one of the Three Jewel Temples of Korea.