Leeds History First

‘A Slaughter House’: Korean Sexual Politics, 1932-1990

Through the paradigm of adaptation and progression, this dissertation analyses contemporary Korean sex work as a continuation of traditional perceptions of women, and their respective roles in the sex industry. Focusing on three principal stages of prostitution, this work explores the correlations, which link the three aiming to provide an understanding and insight into the foundations of the sex trade that are still visible today. Colonial domination, perception of women, Korea’s weakness as a state, patriarchal governments and state endorsement are all intertwined aspects which contribute to an explanation of Korea’s prostitution. Starting with the Korean ‘Comfort Women’, we can see Japanese colonial domination contributing to forced prostitution. However taking an objective perspective and exploring other contributive factors, a view of this military prostitution in its original context is used, allowing for a broader neutral approach. Moving from this to American ‘camptown’ prostitution, another example of military prostitution is uncovered. With American involvement in the adaptation of Korea, inevitably prostitution occurred. This chapter discusses both Korea’s and America’s involvement, continuing with the concept of a multiplicity of influential factors. Like the ‘Comfort Women’, it is useful to not immediately suppose the colonially dominating nation as culpable, but allow exploration of all possible factors. From this, the legacy of military prostitution is briefly explored, providing contemporary examples and the truth of state endorsement. Ultimately, this dissertation explores the benefits of prostitution for Korea as a nation, while its women undergo exploitation, abuse and are subject to the diminishing of their autonomy.

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This entry was posted in 1920-1949, 1950-1999, Gender and Women, HIST3500, Korea, Social History and tagged .

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