It accused South Korean soldiers of thousands of rapes against Vietnamese women.
The Korean American Association of Greater New York organized an event on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. on Thursday, local time, to honor the so called "comfort women" who were victims of sexual violence during World War II.
While many know the story of the "comfort women," a lesser known story is that of the "Lai Dai Han" and their mothers who were the victims of sexual violence by South Korean soldiers during the Vietnam War. Some of the women that suffered rape and sexual violence were as young as 12 or 13 at the time.
During the Vietnam War, South Korea deployed more than 320,000 soldiers to Vietnam. Today, as a result of the rape and sexual violence that took place, tens of thousands of young adults of mixed Vietnamese-Korean ancestry live in the shadows of Vietnamese society, according to PRNewswire.
A statue designed by Justice for Lai Dai Han to commemorate the victims of sexual violence during the Vietnam War. Photo by PRNewswire
Justice for Lai Dai Han, which is committed to fighting for the rights of women who have been victims of sexual violence during conflict, recently published a letter about plans to bring a statue of the "Lai Dai Han" to Capitol Hill like the sex slave statue that will be displayed. "Lai Dai Han" is a Vietnamese term for a mixed ancestry person born to a South Korean father and a Vietnamese mother, including the victims of sexual assault by Korean soldiers, during the Vietnam War.
Forty years ago, during the Vietnam War, South Korean soldiers were responsible for thousands of rapes against innocent Vietnamese women. Today, tens of thousands of children of mixed Korean-Vietnamese ancestry, called the "Lai Dai Han" live in the shadows of Vietnamese society.
The London-based Justice for Lai Dai Han is considering opportunities to erect a statue commemorating Vietnamese and all other victims of sexual violence. As it seeks justice for victims of sexual violence in conflict, its also urging the South Korean government to recognize the suffering of the "Lai Dai Han."
Tran Dai Nhat, Honorary President at Justice for Lai Dai Han, was quoted by PRNewswire as saying: "Whether it be in World War II or Vietnam, those who commit sexual violence against women need to be held accountable for their actions."
"As we approach the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, its imperative that the Lai Dai Han and other lesser known victims of sexual violence, be given equal opportunity to tell their stories."
The plight of the Lai Dai Han is one of the great untold stories of the Vietnam War and has never been recognized by the government of South Korea. Only 800 rape victims are alive today. As recent British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw noted, the Lai Dai Han simply want to be heard and for someone to acknowledge their pain and suffering.