PYEONGTAEK, Gyeonggi – At 69, Cheon Chang-suk lives alone in a tiny cell with moss-covered walls. She starts her day by collecting recyclable materials off the streets of her neighborhood, items she redeems for less than 1 cent per kilo at local stores.
In the eyes of the Korean government, Cheon is one of many underprivileged citizens who receive monthly welfare aid worth 380,000 won ($271), the minimum cost of living that people with no income get from the state.
But Cheon says the Korean government owes her more because her life was irrevocably turned upside down by the turbulence of modern Korean history.
During the chaotic and impoverished months following the cessation of hostilities of the Korean War (1950-1953), Cheon began working as a yangbuin, a term coined by locals for Korean bargirls and sex workers at major American camptowns, or gijichon in Korean.
Gijichon sprang up across Korea around 1945 when U.S. troops arrived here to begin their post-World War II occupation. The primary function of these brothels was to provide sexual services for U.S. soldiers in a controllable, confined area, a move seen to also protect local women from the American military men.
The camptown economy peaked in Korea during the 1960s when the country was in desperate need of foreign currency to rebuild its war-torn economy.
Camptown prostitution and related businesses on the Korean Peninsula contributed to nearly 25 percent of the Korean GNP, according to Katharine Moon, a professor of political science at Wellesley College, in a 2002 study.
According to Cheon, the Korean government supported the camptown brothels, hoping the industry would boost regional economies.
In fact, recent studies here by scholars and nongovernmental agencies have suggested that the Korean government helped build and maintain the brothels after the Korean War, supporting the claims of women like Cheon.
Note that the rationalization for these prostitutes is exactly the same one the Japanese had for the so-called “comfort women”.
Moving on to the last paragraphs –
People working on behalf of women like Cheon are looking for solutions with reference to the Korean sex workers forced to serve the Japanese military during World War II. Koreans registered as so-called comfort women receive a one-off government payment worth 43 million won and an 800,000 won monthly stipend. But the public doesn’t view women involved in camptown prostitution in the same way they see the comfort women because camptown sex workers went to work voluntarily.
Another issue that weakens Cheon’s case is that some of the camptown prostitutes were already working in local brothels, which does not bolster the argument that they were victims of the Korean War.
“It’s a subject that still requires more research, because the enemy or the historical context is not as clear as the comfort women,” says Lee Jeong-hee, a Democratic Labor Party lawmaker who is considering putting Cheon’s case into a bill.
“We need to see this issue beyond historical injustice and look at it from the broader perspective of sex trafficking and the individuals involved from the past to present.”
Actually, many of the comfort women were prostitutes as well. Most of the answered ads in the same way as the camp town women answered ads. Government doctors tested the women, just like the Japanese did. Women were registered, just like the Japanese did. The only difference is that the comfort women were camp followers, following the Japanese camps as they advanced and retreated throughout the war, while the American camps were stationary. The US congress opened a can of worms when they passed the comfort women resolution. Expect this to come back to haunt the US at some point.
Read the rest of the article yourself.
More occidentalism commentary on the comfort women.