• Kyodo

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A memorial service for Koreans who died from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima was held in Peace Memorial Park here Sunday, a day ahead of the 56th anniversary of the bombing.

The ceremony, held in front of a cenotaph dedicated for them at the park, drew some South Korean survivors of the A-bomb, known as “hibakusha,” and their families, numbering some 200.

This year, the ceremony was attended for the first time by Li Sil Gun, leader of the pro-Pyongyang Korean atomic bomb survivors’ group, the organizers said.

The participants prayed silently after a book listing the names of 2,588 victims who died, including three in the past year, was laid at the monument.

The silent prayer was followed by a performance by celebrated violinist Jung Chanwoo, a South Korean resident in Japan. He played “Kagopa,” a tune said to be sung by Koreans who were brought to Japan and yearning to return home.

Jung said, “In the first year of the 21st century, I played it in the hope that there will be no nuclear weapons.”

Pak So Sung, the chief of the Hiroshima regional unit of the pro-Seoul Korean Residents Union in Japan (Mindan), spoke of those Koreans who have been unable to receive benefits under Japan’s law to support hibakusha because they have left Japan, saying it is “an issue that should be resolved while surviving hibakusha are alive.”

The Japanese government interprets eligibility for benefits as being limited to those who reside in Japan. On June 1, a district court ruled against the government, but the government appealed the ruling. The case is pending.

An estimated 5,000 A-bomb survivors live in South Korea, North Korea, China, Brazil and the United States. Of these, about 2,300 live in South Korea. Many Korean hibakusha were brought over to Japan as forced laborers during the war.

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