The above are two Korean newspaper advertisements for “comfort women” (military prostitutes) in 1944. The ad on the left was placed in the “Gyeongseong Ilbo” on July 16, 1944 and offered women between seventeen and twenty-three years old 300 yen per month to work as “comfort women.” It also offered an advance payment of 3,000 yen. The ad on the right was placed in the “Maeil Shinmun” on October 27, 1944 and also offered 300 yen per month for “healthy” women between eighteen and thirty.
The newspaper ads suggest that, at least in Korea, the recruitment of “comfort women” was open, legitimate, and socially acceptable. They are also evidence that the women were well paid. For example, a commenter going by the name of “Void” wrote that the salary of a lieutenant in the Imperial Japanese Army was only 110 yen per month, which means that the women would have been receiving almost triple the salary of a Japanese army lieutenant.
Yes, some women may have been kidnapped and turned into prostitutes by pimps and others, but I think the money was probably a big attraction for many desperately poor families and women in colonial Korea. Korean women have often sacrificed themselves for their families and male siblings, and I think this may have been considered one such sacrifice.