After an extensive search of the U.S. National Archives, the South Korean government has released a rare 18-second clip of what is believed to be the first ever video of South Korean women used as sex slaves by the Japanese military during World War II.
Researchers, funded by the Korean government, underwent a two-year search of the U.S. National Archives to unearth the clip, according to AsAmNews.
The footage itself is believed to have been taken by an American soldier in September of 1944 somewhere in China’s Yunnan Province. The uniformed man in the video is believed to be a Chinese military officer of the U.S.-China Allied forces.
Researchers have even been able to match the faces of women seen in the video to photo records of comfort women, according to Korea Times.
“As unfortunate history must also be recorded and remembered so that it is not repeated, the Seoul government will focus all of its capacity and resources in documenting history and setting things right,” said Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon.
The historical issue of South Korean comfort women has been a hotly debated topic among the brutalities committed by Japan during the war. An estimated 200,000 women, a majority of them from Korea, were forced to work in brothels for Japanese troops. Victims and the descendants of victims still protest the Japanese government for not fully admitting the atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese Army.
On December 28, 2015, South Korea and Japan reached a historic agreement in which Tokyo apologized for its colonial-era crimes, providing 1 billion yen ($9.6 million) for a foundation that aims to offer support to surviving victims, according to The Korea Herald.