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For the past two weeks, one of the biggest news stories circulating in SKorea (and my God, the drama!) has been regarding comfort women being taken advantage of by an NGO that represents them.

This is a brief summary.
Let's start out with some background information first.

We all know about comfort women - the women across Asia who were forcibly** recruited to serve as sex slaves for the Imperial Japanese Army.…
**There is some debate about whether or not there is evidence that the Japanese government itself was legally responsible for this. According to Professor Park Yu-ha who wrote "Comfort Women of the Empire," no such evidence exists.…
The topic of comfort women is a really sensitive one in SKorea. There have been regularly-held protests in front of the Japanese embassy for years demanding an official and sincere apology** from the Japanese government for the suffering that the women went through.
**While it's true that past Japanese governments have apologized and offered statements of regret to one degree or another in the past, anger boiled up again especially since Abe Shinzo became the Japanese Prime Minister.…
The NGO that has held the protests and rallies (as well as the construction of the Comfort Women statues) is the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance. In Korean, it's 정의기억연대 or 정대협 (Jungdaehyup) for short.…
When it comes to representing the rights of comfort women, Jungdaehyup is the go-to organization.

Things have gotten pretty dramatic with that organization as one of the last surviving comfort women accused the president of Jungdaehyup, Yoon Mi-hyang, of embezzling money.
Yoon Mi-hyang was just elected to SKorea's National Assembly as a proportional representative, and she is a member of the ruling Minjoo Party.

Initially, the Minjoo Party brushed aside the accusations, but as they began to mount, the Minjoo Party has taken steps to investigate.
On May 7, a former comfort woman, Lee Yong-soo, who is 91 years old, publicly raised suspicions over the way donations that were given to Jungdaehyup were used. Specifically, she said, "I will no longer be used."…
Not only did Ms. Lee accuse Jungdaehyup and Representative-elect Yoon of embezzling money, but she also said she wouldn't participate in any more protests because "It helps no one. You don’t even know where the contributions of the participants are being spent."
Much more controversially, Ms. Lee also added that "the rallies only teach young students hatred (for Japan)."

If ever there was a mic drop moment that was immediately followed by an intense, awkward silence, this was it.
This has led to a really awkward moment of self-reflection in SKorea. As written in this article in the SCMP, it has "accentuated concerns that comfort women have been used as pawns in support of a nationalistic and politically convenient narrative."…
Of course, Representative-elect Yoon Mi-hyang has denied all wrongdoing and has said that she's a victim of a political witch-hunt. But things aren't looking good for her as investigations are revealing discrepancies in Jungdaehyup's financial accounts.
Unfortunately for Representative-elect Yoon Mi-hyang, this isn't just an accounting scandal. It's a sensitive historical issue. And because of the circumstances surrounding it and what Ms. Lee Yong-soo has said, it has caused a loss of face vis-a-vis Japan.
That means that ALL eyes are on Representative-elect Yoon Mi-hyang. As much as the Minjoo Party might want to protect one of their own, the party would not recover from appearing to protect someone who took advantage of a former comfort woman!
And that means that her family is under the microscope, too - specifically, her husband.

According to this article from the Chosun Ilbo, Representative-elect Yoon Mi-hyang and her husband, Kim Sam-seok, invited a a NKorean restaurant manager who defected with 12 waitresses...
from China in 2016 to a mansion that was built for the comfort women. There the couple pressured the manager to re-defect to NKorea. Apparently, Mr. Kim Sam-seok kept referring to Kim Jong Un as "Leader" and "General" and sang NKorean revolutionary songs.…
I want to point out that while the Chosun Ilbo is one of the biggest newspapers in SKorea, its accuracy can be... questionable.

Furthermore, the restaurant manager who defected from NKorea, Heo Gang-il, is quite the character.
In May 2018, Heo claimed that he tricked the other 12 NKorean waitresses to defect to SKorea (from their state-run restaurant based in China). He said he became an informant for SKorea's National Intelligence Service, and he said that he brought the 12 women with him because...
...former and disgraced President Park Geun-hye wanted a big splash right before elections. So, according to Heo, the NIS told him that if he didn't bring the waitresses with him, they would report him to the NKorean embassy and have him killed.…
Heo's claims were explosive stuff! It fed right into NKorea's claim that it wasn't a mass defection but a mass abduction committed by SKorea. At a time when conspiracy theories - some true and some not - were abounding about President Park, this added fuel to the fire.
However, in September last year, very quietly and without fanfare, an investigation by SKorea's human rights watchdog found no evidence that the NIS tricked or coerced a dozen NKorean restaurant workers into defecting in 2016.…
So, regarding that news story from the Chosun Ilbo or Heo's testimony regarding Mr. Kim Sam-seok, it might be true, it might not be true. Judge it for yourselves.

The facts are still unfolding, and this drama is full of twists!
Additional info:

Earlier this month, Representative-elect Yoon Mi-hyang said that after sharing a phone call with Ms. Lee Yong-soo, she noticed that Ms. Lee's memory of past events has changed and she had to remind Ms. Lee of things that happened.…
Ms. Lee is 91 years old. Is it possible that her memories aren't what they used to be? Maybe, maybe not. What is certain is that Representative-elect Yoon's insinuation that Ms. Lee's mental faculty can't be trusted anymore was met with a LOT of criticism.
Recently, Representative-elect Yoon and Ms. Lee met in person. Apparently, Representative-elect Yoon kneeled and asked for forgiveness. Ms. Lee supposedly gave Representative-elect Yoon a hug and said that Representative-elect Yoon was "pitiful."**
**The Korean word for "pitiful" is 불쌍하다. Unlike in the English language, however, the Korean word for pitiful doesn't carry any malicious or angry connotation, but rather a sympathetic one.
However, Ms. Lee publicly said that she did not forgive Representative-elect Yoon. Ms. Lee said that the courts will determine Representative-elect Yoon guilt.
Recent investigations showed that the total amount of money unaccounted for by Jungdaehyop amounted to ₩3.7 billion (US$3 million).

Jungdaehyop continues to insist that it's all due to "a simple mistake."…
I need to make a correction. I referred to the NGO in question as Jungdaehyop. I was wrong.

The NGO's Korean name is 정의기억연대; 정의연 for short. The name is pronounced as Jungeeyeon.

I apologize for the mistake I made.

Once again, it's Jungeeyeon, not Jungdaehyop.
The Japanese Far Right is having a field day over this, which is causing a lot of annoyance here. Some in the Korean Left are, therefore, engaging in both-siderisms and whataboutisms. It's really disgusting.…
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