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Reply #210: You do have a knack of extrapolating nonexeistent corollaries. [View All]

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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-17-06 01:58 AM
Response to Reply #194
210. You do have a knack of extrapolating nonexeistent corollaries.
No, I don't advocate military brothels. Nor do I advocate the idea that American GI's are clean cut boys longing to embrace a golf club or ping-pong paddle in lieu of what GI's since the beginning of armies have been noted for.

And, by the way, it wasn't just the Japanese who ran brothels stocked with Korean women.

FICTION WRITERS in Korea have depicted, for half a century, the plight of military prostitutes catering to United States Forces in Korea (USFK), often as a symbol of social ills, but this conspicuous reality has, for the most part, remained outside the consciousness of historians and political theorists until Katharine Moon's work. She gives Korean military prostitution a powerful contemporary historical narrative, which is also rendered in diplomatic terms as a system "that is sponsored and regulated by two governments." The place of Korean military prostitution in history, which, like Mt. Everest, extended an invitation to be climbed, has now been scaled, every inch of the way revealing the callous treatment of women of lower classes by Korean society and domestic and foreign military forces. Moon persuasively demonstrates how both the Korean and U.S. governments used military prostitutes as international bargaining chips. The book makes a valuable contribution to military and diplomatic history, a field which has often been dry and lacking in human dimension.

The context of prospering prostitution in post-WW II Korea in Sex among Allies is all-inclusive; it is of economics, militarism, colonialism, racism, sexual politics, and tribalism. Moon's detailed descriptions reveal the passive and helpless state of individual prostitutes caught in a web of national and international diplomacy. The Korean government and the U.S. military, effectively working together for the first time in the seventies, managed Korean "camptown" affairs, which they had neglected since 1945. In the early seventies racial tension in the U.S. military was becoming as explosive as the spread of VD. The drama was being carried into the camptowns just outside U.S. bases, and the American military was not able to control it. Some form of cooperation between the U.S. military and the Korean government became necessary, particularly during the Nixon administration's move to withdraw from Asia throughout the seventies, a policy the Korean military regime greatly feared. The author painstakingly documents the circumstances of this joint "Purification Movement" in camptowns. Her documentation of interstate policy making illustrates how the prostitutes' limited power over their own lives was further reduced. However, military prostitutes in the clean-up campaign became international commodities used by the policy makers of both governments as well as brothel owners, their sex not a resource but an instrument that was used to ease racial tension and the rampant VD among the soldiers. As Moon concludes, "The control of camptown women's bodies and sexual health was integral to improving deteriorated USFK-ROK relations in the early years of the Nixon Doctrine" (p. 103) .

Moon's answer to her own question, "How is prostitution political?"requires elevating prostitutes to "actors," political players, in the context of interaction between foreign governments. They become political when conniving politicians use them in order to remain in power. Her narrative makes it clear that military prostitution contributes to international bargaining, as an inanimate mass of oil might be used to strengthen a political bargaining position. As she says, "Specifically, the Korean government intended to transform these women from "bad ambassadors" to "good ambassadors" by forcing them to accommodate the USFK's attempts at promoting nondiscriminatory behavior toward black GIs and strict VD control (p. 13). Under this new situation, in which prostitutes were more strictly controlled in order to suit the bargaining governments' needs, they became "actors" in international negotiations.

Copyright University of British Columbia Spring 1999

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