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Lee Yong Soo


Lee Yong Soo was born in Daegu, Korea, in 1928. When Lee Yong Soo was 16, she was kidnapped with her friend and taken to a military unit in Hsinchu County, Taiwan. On the ship to Taiwan, where 5 girls and 300 Japanese soldiers were aboard, Yong Soo was raped for the first time. “At the time, I didn’t even know the term rape,” she recalled, “I only thought, ‘This is why they brought me.’ It would have been better for the boat to sink and everyone to have died there. Afterward, the other girls and I were continuously violated by the soldiers over and over again.” At the "comfort station," Yong Soo was forced to service an average of four to five soldiers a day and at most 20 men a day, regardless of injuries or days she was menstruating. Lee Yong Soo was 17 when the war ended. Upon returning home, she was unable to marry and instead took on many different jobs.


In 1991, when Kim Hak Sun publicly recounted her experience as a Comfort Woman, Yong Soo found the courage to speak up and registered with the Korean government as a former Comfort Woman. In December 2000, she testified in the Tokyo Tribunal and emerged as a powerful voice in the Comfort Women’s fight for justice. She received a Masters’ degree in 2001 from Kyungpook National University. In 2007, decked in fine Korean traditional wear, Lee Yong Soo  testified in front of the U.S. Congress about the passage of House Resolution 121.


In 2020, Lee Yong Soo exposed the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for corruption. The organization was established in 1990 and had been entrusted with the care of the surviving Comfort Women and leading the Wednesday Demonstrations. Lee Yong Soo, in an explosive press conference which paralleled Kim Hak Sun’s testimony from 1991, exposed the Korean Council. She said “…when they collect donations, the money should have been spent on the victims, but they never did that.” After an investigation, it was revealed that the Yoon Mee-Hyang, former head of the Korean Council for Justice, embezzled funds that were donated to support surviving Comfort Women. As one of the few surviving Comfort Women, Lee Yong Soo continues to be  a powerful voice advocating on behalf of the 200,000 young girls who did not receive any redress from the Japanese government.  

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