Park Sook-yi, a former “comfort woman” — a euphemism for military sex slaves during World War II in Japan — passed away at the age of 94, South Korea’s Ministry of Gender Equality and Family said on Wednesday.
Sook-yi’s final words before she passed away were “Please bury me under the ‘Statue of Peace’,” according to AllKPop.
The statue, which is dedicated in honor of “comfort women,” is a monument that depicts a young girl who represents all the victims of Japanese sex slavery.
Sook-yi’s health started deteriorating in 2015, and it recently worsened after suffering from severe pneumonia.
Born in Namahae, South Gyeongsang Province in 1922, she was kidnapped as she was collecting clams by the sea at the age of 16, and was abused as a sex slave by the Japanese military in Manchuria for six years.
It took another seven years for Sook-yi to get back home following Korea’s liberation from Japan in 1945, according to The Chosun Ilbo.
There were 238 women on the list of government-registered former sex slaves. Sook-yi’s death leaves just 39 survivors.
An estimated 200,000 women, a majority of them from Korea, were forced to work in brothels for Japanese troops.
On December 28, 2015, South Korea and Japan reached a historic agreement in which Tokyo apologized for its colonial-era crimes, providing 1 billion yen ($9.6 million) for a foundation that aims to offer support to surviving victims, according to The Korea Herald.
However, Sook-yi was an active protester who continued the fight against the Japanese government for not fully admitting to its war crimes.
“Be proud against Japan. Do not become someone who bows to another country,” she would say.
“No matter what, make Japan apologize. We must live with dignity,” Sook-yi said.