Hidden in green hills east of South Korea's capital is the House of Sharing, a nursing home for elderly women.
It's a bright, spacious place. But its residents are survivors of a dark chapter of history.
"It was 1942 and I was only 15, running an errand for my parents [in our Korean hometown of Busan], when two Japanese men in uniform grabbed me by the arms and dragged me away," recalls Lee Ok-seon, now aged 90. "That's how I became enslaved."
She was enslaved and sent to work in a brothel in a Japanese-occupied area of northeast China.
Lee is one of the last survivors of sexual slavery by imperial Japan's military. Tens of thousands of Korean women were forced into prostitution during World War II. They were euphemistically called "comfort women."
As the surviving comfort women age and die, their stories pull at heartstrings in South Korea. They frequently appear on stage at street protests against Japan, and their stories were dramatized in a popular film, Spirits Homecoming, that came out last year.
Japan and South Korea are now allies, and their cooperation is essential in facing the threat from nearby North Korea's missile and nuclear programs. But the issue of the comfort women has long dogged their relations.
The two countries signed an agreement two years ago for reparations. But many Koreans — including the new president — think that deal was unfair.Lee was forced to have sex with Japanese soldiers at the brothel for three years, until WWII ended. Japan had taken control of Korea in 1910, and in 1945, when Japan lost WWII, Korea gained its independence.
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