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Georgia City to Relocate ‘Comfort Women’ Memorial to Larger Park

A memorial statue dedicated to “comfort women” — the mostly Korean women who were forced into Japanese military-run brothels during World War II — is being relocated to one of a Georgia city’s most prominent parks after being unveiled late last month.

A mock up of a the proposed Atlanta comfort women memorial, which is modeled after an existing memorial in Seoul. Courtesy of the Atlanta Comfort Women Memorial Task Force

The city council of Brookhaven, a city about 10 miles north of Atlanta, decided last week to move the statue from its current home at a three-acre park to a 51-acre park that sees more visitors, according to the Atlanta Comfort Women Memorial Task Force, which spearheaded the effort.

The memorial honors the estimated 200,000 women from countries including Korea, China, Indonesia, and the Philippines, who were forced to serve Japanese soldiers in military-run brothels during World War II, according to research cited by the Comfort Women Justice Coalition.

“As the City Council has learned more about the Comfort Women tragedy, it is only fitting to place the ‘Young Girl’s Statue for Peace’ in one of the most prominent locations within Brookhaven,” Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst said in a task force statement.

RELATED: Georgia Town to Install ‘Comfort Women’ Memorial Canceled by Atlanta Museum

The memorial was originally set to be installed at a museum in Atlanta, but the museum earlier this year cancelled plans to do so citing logistical reasons. Members of the Atlanta Comfort Women Memorial Task Force believe the cancellation was motivated by monetary and political reasons.

Shortly after news of the cancellation, Brookhaven City Councilman John Park reached out to Helen Ho, a consultant and special adviser to the task force, to offer the city as a home for the statue.

Members of the Atlanta Comfort Women Memorial Task Force with former Congressman Mike Honda following a February press conference announcing the memorial. Courtesy of the Atlanta Comfort Women Memorial Task Force

Atlanta is a large hub for human trafficking in the United States, according to a 2014 study by The Urban Institute for the Department of Justice. Brookhaven is a local leader in the fight against sex trafficking, Ho has noted.

Brookhaven is the first city in Georgia and the Deep South with a comfort women memorial, according to Ho. It unveiled the statue on June 30 at Blackburn Park II.

RELATED: Atlanta Museum Cancels Planned ‘Comfort Women’ Memorial

In an email to NBC News, Ho said that the task force enthusiastically supports the city council’s decision to move the memorial statue to the city’s main Blackburn Park, which hosts multiple festivals, athletic contests, and other community events.

“With tens of thousands of people visiting Blackburn Park each year, we are thrilled that the memorial will be located at one of the most prominent locations in Brookhaven, allowing us to fulfill our mission in an even greater way,” she told NBC News.

Image: South Korea protest against Japan
South Korean supporters of former so-called comfort women, hold up pictures of deceased former comfort women during the weekly rally against the Japanese government, near the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, 30 December 2015. YANG JI-WOONG / EPA

The statue is scheduled to be relocated during the month of July.

Other cities across the U.S. that have also installed comfort women memorials include Palisades Park and Union City, New Jersey; Southfield, Michigan; Fairfax County, Virginia; and Glendale, California.

The city of San Francisco earlier this year granted final approval for the installation of a comfort women memorial later this year. It is expected to become the first major U.S. city to install a memorial.

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