South Korea has uncovered the first-known footage of “comfort women”, the sex slaves forced to work for the Japanese Imperial Army in World War II.
In the previously unseen film, a line of visibly nervous women talks to a Chinese soldier in the 18-second clip discovered by researchers at the archives at the Seoul National University.
It’s estimated 200,000 women were forced into brothels for Japan’s military, however Japan maintained the comfort women were not held against their will.
Prior to this footage, testimonials and photographs had been the only real evidence of the women being forced into sexual slavery.
The seven Korean women seen speaking to a Chinese captain of the China-US Combined Force were reportedly all freed in 1944, according to the research team.
The issue has put a longstanding strain on the relationship between South Korea and Japan over a perceived lack of apology and recognition.
Many Japanese citizens dispute the accuracy of the number of “comfort women” victims
"In my opinion, using 'sex slaves' is not appropriate," a member of the Australian-Japanese community told the ABC.
"Because they are prostitutes … they were paid really well. They earned enormous money."
Earlier this year, the Australian-Japan Community Network lodged a discrimination complaint after a memorial commemorating the sex slaves was erected at Sydney’s Ashfield Uniting Church.
The statue of a woman sitting next to an unoccupied seat was created to recognise the “suffering endured by the young girls and women known as 'comfort women' who were forced into sexual slavery by the military of the government of imperial Japan”.
Not long after, the Japanese community accused the Uniting Church of breaching Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, claiming the small monument risked generating community conflict.
"This hurtful historical symbol is detrimental to the local community and will only result in generating offence and racial hate,” the complaint started.
The monument remains in place today.