Ex-Prostitutes Say South Korea and U.S. Enabled Sex Trade Near Bases

It’s about time someone put 1 + 1 + 1 together! Great article that shows how convoluted international adoption really is, especially regarding the relationship between the US and ROK. Layers and layers of ownership and public forces in people’s private lives.

The New York Times
January 8, 2009

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has railed for years against the Japanese government’s waffling over how much responsibility it bears for one of the ugliest chapters in its wartime history: the enslavement of women from Korea and elsewhere to work in brothels serving Japan’s imperial army.

Now, a group of former prostitutes in South Korea have accused some of their country’s former leaders of a different kind of abuse: encouraging them to have sex with the American soldiers …

“Our government was one big pimp for the U.S. military,” one of the women, Kim Ae-ran, 58, said in a recent interview.

Jeon, 71, who agreed to talk only if she was identified by just her surname, said she was an 18-year-old war orphan in 1956 when hunger drove her to Dongduchon, a camp town near the border with North Korea. She had a son in the 1960s, but she became convinced that he would have a better future in the United States and gave him up for adoption when he was 13.

“The more I think about my life, the more I think women like me were the biggest sacrifice for my country’s alliance with the Americans,” she said. “Looking back, I think my body was not mine, but the government’s and the U.S. military’s.”


3 responses to “Ex-Prostitutes Say South Korea and U.S. Enabled Sex Trade Near Bases

  1. Jane – a link to this post was on the page that I just commented on. I had to click because I believe this is true. I was in the US Army, stationed at Uijongbu from 2000-2001. I frequently went to Tongduchon (TDC as we called it) and Tokori (sp?) which was even worse. Of course we frequented Itaewon (aka Hooker Hill) in Seoul. I was an officer, so I often had duty to patrol the local clubs at Uijongbu. I would go into “drinkie clubs” where the “drinkie girls” were dancing, etc, and it was such a short distance between their eyes and mine, yet a universe between their lives and mine. A Korean in US military uniform, observing a Korean or Filipino dancing for US soldiers. It was terrible. Even worse was when I’d go out with my peers – young US male officers – who would disappear for some time with these girls. The girls looked so unhappy. I went to the bathroom once in Tokori and there was a girl squatting, washing herself with a hose. It haunts me. And I’m always sorry that I couldn’t do more to help them. I can’t begin to touch the feelings I had about that.

  2. When I was stationed at the base on the edge of TokoRi a few miles from Tongdushon in 1964, I don’t remember it being called anything. I suppose it was. I was in the 7th Cavalry Division. Yes, there were beer joints with prostitutes, but there were also regular villagers who made their living from things like making charcoal bricks and stuff from our expended brass. Also farmers.I became very good friends with four of the girls and we would go out and eat the kempshl,octopus,rice dishes,etc.when they weren’t working. They sent money home to their family. All the Koreans up there were very poor. This was fairly close to the DMZ. I’m sure it was better down in Seoul, and to the South where the Air Force was. Prostitution was probably the only way for these poor country girls to get a job and help their families. I don’t know if their families knew what they were doing, as none of them lived close. I know the girls didn’t like what they had to do, but a few ended up married to GI’s. The others either worked till they got too old, or saved up money. I don’t know because I was only there for 13 months.

  3. All you say is true and I am sure it didn’t end well for the girls. But at the time the girls and I had a good time at the end of the month when I was broke. I was still invited to town and the girls bought my drinks and still spent the nights with me. Tokeri 1970 an 71 Life was so good for the soldier very few even went on R&R. The girls where our friends and we where there’s. I wouldn’t trade my time there for anything.

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