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Moon pledges to increase transparency of NGOs

President Moon Jae-in speaks at the meeting with senior aides on Monday. (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in speaks at the meeting with senior aides on Monday. (Yonhap)

President Moon Jae-in on Monday spoke out against attempts to damage the campaign of “comfort women,” survivors of Japanese military sexual slavery, and pledged action to ensure the transparency of nongovernmental organizations.

Speaking at a weekly meeting with senior aides, Moon addressed the matter for the first time, saying the scandal had shed light on issues with NGOs but must not be used to damage the integrity of the movement.

The campaign for an apology and reparations from Japan for enslaving women from the Korean Peninsula and other occupied territories in the first half of the 20th century has come under scrutiny in Korea in recent weeks. Rep. Yoon Mi-hyang, a longtime advocate for the survivors who was elected to the National Assembly this year after leading an NGO that focuses on the issue, has been accused of a host of irregularities, including misusing funds raised for the survivors.

“The comfort women movement’s cause must be defended. The 30-year history of the comfort women movement is a movement toward defending human dignity, and women’s rights and peace,” Moon said.

While recognizing the need to address irregularities in the way that NGOs operate, Moon warned against using the scandal to damage the movement.

“It is a fundamental challenge against the legitimacy of the comfort women campaign that dedicated to itself to defending women’s rights and reporting an inhuman war crime,” Moon said.

Going on to say that the campaign was still ongoing as the wrongs against the victims had not been set right, Moon pledged to strengthen systems to ensure the transparency of NGOs.

“The government will build a management system for donations, to fundamentally increase the transparency of fundraising activities,” Moon said, adding that the system would ensure that donations were not misused and would help the country to develop a more mature culture of philanthropy.

By Choi He-suk (