South Korean Movements Against Militarized Sexual Labor


Moon, Katharine H. S. 1999. "South Korean Movements Against Militarized Sexual Labor." Asian Survey 39 (2): 310-27.

Author: Katherine H. S. Moon


The suffering that many South Korean women experienced under the Japanese military's sexual slavery (chongsindae) practices has been properly noted not only in South Korea but in other nations as well. The chongsindae movement (CM), however, was preceded by a similar group, the kijich'on movement (KM). KM was formed in the mid-1980s to recognize and publicize the plight of Korean prostitutes servicing American soldiers in the US military camptown, or kijich'on. A comparison of the two movements' ideology, leadership, and organization is presented to provide a rationale for CM's success in making the 'military comfort women' a universal women's rights concern, even as KM has remained localized and less recognized as a group.

Keywords: prostitution, Japanese military, US military, chongsindae movement, sex trafficking, kijich'on movement


  • The chongsindae movement (CM) addresses the problem of the military “comfort system” in South Korea which resulted in women being trafficked to military bases and forced to work as sex workers, beginning with the Japanese colonial rule. Since the mid-1980s, the kijich’on (KM) movement has also been formed, protesting the issue of U.S. military camptown prostitutes who became “victims of debt bondage and objects of foreign domination” (311). Moon discusses these two movements in connection with each other, comparing the ideology, leadership, and organization of each in the context of the changing civil in South Korea since the late 1980s. The author’s goal is to account for the relatively localized and less recognized status of the KM movement as opposed to the overall success and publicity gained by the CM movement. She ultimately concludes that the CM movement has overshadowed rather than supported the kijich’on problem.

Topics: Gender, Women, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Militarization, Rights, Women's Rights, Sexual Violence, Sexual Slavery, SV against Women, Trafficking, Sex Trafficking Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: South Korea

Year: 1999

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