The funeral service for Kim Bok-dong, an iconic victim of wartime sexual slavery, began in a funeral hall located in a general hospital in western Seoul early Friday.
Lee Yong-su, a surviving victim, bowed to pay her respects and bid a last farewell to her friend. Dozens of officials at the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance (KCJR), a civic group representing the victims, also paid tribute.
Kim died late Monday at Yonsei Severance Hospital at age 93. She had been battling cancer. Yoon Mi-hyang, head of the KCJR, was by her side in her last moments. Kim had no family.
The coffin carrying Kim was moved to a vehicle waiting outside the mortuary at Yonsei Severance Hospital. At around 6:30 a.m., the car left the hospital for a shelter run by the KCJR, where Kim had stayed until her death.
Police controlled the traffic and escorted the vehicle on the way to the shelter.
Funeral participants shed tears when the car arrived at the shelter.
Gil Won-ok, another victim who lived at the shelter with Kim, tenderly stroked Kim's portrait with her hands.
"You didn't have to go this fast. ... You go and rest in a nice spot, I'll come behind you soon," Gil said.
A participant holding Kim's portrait made a brief stop by her bedroom. Pointing to her wardrobe, Yoon promised Kim that she would take care of the clothes she wore every Wednesday to the regular protest rally near the Japanese embassy.
"I will leave them as they are, I promise," Yoon said.
The vehicle headed to Seoul Plaza in front of Seoul City Hall. A street memorial service will take place there from 10:30 a.m., from where hundreds of volunteer citizens, holding high 94 funeral streamers, are expected to march toward the old Japanese embassy building. (Yonhap)