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North Korea

Can Transnational Feminist Solidarity Accommodate Nationalism? Reflections from the Case Study of Korean “Comfort Women”


Herr, Ranjoo Seodu. 2015. “Can Transnational Feminist Solidarity Accommodate Nationalism? Reflections from the Case Study of Korean ‘Comfort Women.’” Hypatia 31 (1): 41–57.

Author: Ranjoo Seodu Herr


This article aims to refute the “incompatibility thesis” that nationalism is incompatible with transnational feminist solidarity, as it fosters exclusionary practices, xenophobia, and racism among feminists with conflicting nationalist aspirations. I examine the plausibility of the incompatibility thesis by focusing on the controversy regarding just reparation for SecondWorld War “comfort women,” which is still unresolved. The Korean Council at the center ofthis controversy, which advocates for the rights of Korean former comfort women, has been criticized for its strident nationalism and held responsible for the stalemate. Consequently, the case of comfort women has been thought to exemplify the incompatibility thesis. I argue against this common feminist perception in three ways: first, those who subscribe to the incom-patibility thesis have misinterpreted facts surrounding the issue; second, the Korean Council’s nationalism is a version of “polycentric nationalism,” which avoids the problems of essentialist nationalism at the center of feminist concerns; and, third, transnational feminist solidarity is predicated on the idea of oppressed/marginalized women’s epistemic privilege and enjoins that feminists respect oppressed/marginalized women’s epistemic privilege. To the extent that oppressed/marginalized women’s voices are expressed in nationalist terms, I argue that feminists committed to transnational feminist solidarity must accommodate their nationalism.

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Nationalism, Sexual Violence, Rape, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Sexual Slavery, SV against women Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: North Korea, South Korea

Year: 2015

Peacekeeping and Prostitution in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo


Harrington, Carol. 2003. “Peacekeeping and Prostitution in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo.” Paper presented at the 5th European Feminist Research Conference, Lund, August 20-23.

Author: Carol Harrington


This paper compares the organisation of sexual violence in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo during UN operations to the sexual violence associated with US military bases in the Republic of Korea (ROK) during the 1970s, while also drawing some comparisons with the way sexual violence was organised in wartime Yugoslavia. I argue that in all of these cases military men agree that soldiers are entitled to heterosexual encounters, and thus provide women for soldiers to have sex with, treating the women concerned as people whose well- being, dignity and bodily integrity is of no relevance at all. Such sexual violence appears to be institutionalised across contemporary militaries. However, the political logic that categorises women as people to be protected or as people who have no rights to bodily integrity differs across sites. My enquiry is based in a sociology of the body that treats sexual violence as political violence, thus I expect that the sexual categorisation and organisation of women for soldiers will reveal important aspects of the political order the militaries involved are defending. I will elaborate on this theoretical perspective in relation to the three cases in the course of my discussion. Through comparing these three military contexts I seek to understand how military thinkers in the case of Bosnia and Kosovo divided people in relation to physical security and rights to bodily integrity, and thus to uncover the logic of the political order these peacekeeping operations defended. (Intro)

Topics: Gender, Women, Men, Masculinity/ies, Femininity/ies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Militarization, Peacekeeping, Peace Processes, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Sexual Slavery, SV against women, Trafficking, Sex Trafficking, Violence Regions: Asia, East Asia, Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Korea, South Korea

Year: 2003

A Study on Family Stability and Social Adjustment of North Korean Refugees and Women’s Role


Chang, Hyekyung, and Youngran Kim. 2002. “A Study on Family Stability and Social Adjustment of North Korean Refugees and Women’s Role.” Women's Studies International Forum 18: 137-59.

Authors: Hyekyung Chang, Youngran Kim

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: North Korea, South Korea

Year: 2002

In/fertility among Korea’s "Comfort Women" Survivors: A Comparative Perspective


Soh, C. Sarah. 2006. “In/fertility among Korea’s ‘Comfort Women’ Survivors: A Comparative Perspective.” Women’s Studies International Forum 29 (1): 67–80. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2005.10.007.

Author: C. Sarah Soh


This article explores the social psychological and physiological impact of wartime military sexual slavery on postwar lives of former "comfort women" by analyzing Korean survivors’ testimonial narratives of han (long-held bitter resentment) and my multisite ethnographic research findings on the topic. Taking a comparative perspective of a "person-centered anthropology," it attempts to historicize the experiences of wartime enforced sexual labor and its impact on reproductive capacity in postwar marital lives among some Korean, Filipino, and Dutch survivors. [Soh] posit[s] the cumulative number (as well as the degree of roughness) of forced sexual intercourse–operationalized as the length of sexual servitude period–as a crucial factor in affecting the survivors’ reproductive successes in postwar marital lives. Other important intervening variables for survivors’ in/fertility that [Soh] theorize[s] include sexually transmitted diseases, reproductive disruptions, and exceptionally privileged treatment resulting in reduced sexual workload.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Health, Reproductive Health, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Sexual Violence, Sexual Slavery, SV against women Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: North Korea, South Korea

Year: 2006

Korean "Comfort Women": The Intersection of Colonial Power, Gender, and Class


Min, Pyong Gap. 2003. “Korean ‘Comfort Women’: The Intersection of Colonial Power, Gender, and Class.” Gender & Society 17 (6): 938–57.

Author: Pyong Gap Min


During the Asian and Pacific War (1937-45), the Japanese government mobilized approximately 200,000 Asian women to military brothels to sexually serve Japanese soldiers. The majority of these victims were unmarried young women from Korea, Japan’s colony at that time. In the early 1990s, Korean feminist leaders helped more than 200 Korean survivors of Japanese military sexual slavery to come forward to tell the truth, which has further accelerated the redress movement for the women. One major issue in the redress movement and research relating to the so-called “comfort women” issue is whether Japan’s colonization of Korea or gender hierarchy was a more fundamental cause of the Korean women’s suffering. Using an intersectional perspective, this article analyzes how colonial power, gender hierarchy, and class were inseparably tied together to make the victims’ lives miserable. By doing so, it shows that a one-sided emphasis on colonization or gender hierarchy will misrepresent the feminist political issue and misinterpret the “comfort women’s” experiences.

Keywords: sexual violence against women, colonial power, gender, class

Topics: Armed Conflict, Class, Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Hierarchies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Sexual Violence, Male Perpetrators, Sexual Slavery, SV against women Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: Japan, North Korea, South Korea

Year: 2003

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