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Thu Feb 18, 2021, 02:46 PM

Two Harvard professors request publication on Korean comfort women be suspended [View all]

February 17, 2021
Statement by
Andrew Gordon, Professor, Department of History, Carter Eckert, Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations,
Harvard University

Earlier this month at the request of the editor of the International Review of Law and Economics, we began to write a critical response to the article “Contracting for Sex in the Pacific War,” by Professor J. Mark Ramseyer, at that point released online by the journal with plans for formal publication in March.

As historians of Japan and Korea, what initially appalled us was Ramseyer’s elision of the larger political and economic contexts of colonialism and gender in which the comfort women system was conceived and implemented, and the multiple and brutal ways in which it affected and afflicted the women on a human scale. But as we began to look into the article, its evidence, and its logic, we encountered a different and prior problem of the article’s scholarly integrity. We write to explain that problem...

The entire statement which is only three pages can be downloaded here:


The Ramseyer article and now this critique have been headline news in South Korea and in the Korean community here in the US. There have been small demonstrations in various Korean American communities expressing their objections to Ramseyer's article. There is an interesting discussion in the statement of the origins of the term "comfort station."

The word used from 1938 for “comfort stations” (the places the women were put to work) was wianso in Korean, ianjo in Japanese (the same Chinese characters are used in both cases: 慰安所 ). The term for “comfort woman,” in use from that year, has two of the same syllables/characters, translated as “comfort”: wianbu in Korean, ianfu in Japanese; 慰安婦 in Chinese characters..."

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Reply Two Harvard professors request publication on Korean comfort women be suspended [View all]
soryang Feb 2021 OP
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soryang Feb 2021 #3