SEOUL, Nov. 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is considering various possibilities for how to handle the funds provided by Japan to establish a foundation on wartime sexual slavery, Seoul's top diplomat said Thursday.
The government said a day earlier it would dissolve the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation.
It was created in July 2016 to financially support Korean women who were forced to serve as sex slaves for Japanese troops during World War II and families of deceased victims.
There are 27 surviving victims registered with the South Korean authorities.
Japan provided 1 billion yen (US$8.9 million) for the nonprofit organization created as part of a 2015 agreement to settle the so-called comfort women issue between the neighboring countries.
The government began legal and other procedures to close the organization.
At issue is what to do with the funds Japan provided. According to the government, 5.8 billion won ($5.1 million) remains after 4.4 billion won has been provided to 34 of the 47 victims who were alive when the agreement was signed, and to 58 of the 199 families of deceased victims. Some surviving comfort women refused to accept money.
"We will have to consult (with Japan) on the issues of the remaining funds and 1 billion yen provided by Japan," Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told Yonhap News Agency. "Various options are being considered.
The government has already earmarked more than 10 billion won for budgets to take a necessary measure.
Chances are low, however, that Japan will get back the funds, as it wants to maintain the 2015 accord.
On Tokyo's protest against Seoul's decision, Kang said her ministry would not "overreact" to it.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe publicly said state-to-state relations can't exist unless a formal promise is kept, responding to Seoul's announcement on the foundation's dissolution.
Source: Yonhap News Agency