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Title: CHOSEN, TAKEN, AND RETURNED: Korean “Comfort Women” and the Struggle against Japanese Colonial and Post-Colonial Legacies A
Authors: Lee, Kuhn-Mook
Royal Military College of Canada
Oliveira, Dr Vanessa Dos Santos
Keywords: colonialism, reconciliation, comfort women
sexual violence, war crimes Korea WWII
Issue Date: 1-Apr-2022
Abstract: The existence of the “comfort women” continues to create social and political controversy as survivors, former colonies, and the Japanese government struggle to align for their own end goals for redress and reconciliation. The question of responsibility and who is to blame range on a variety of accusations that are highly dependent on cultural perspective and public rhetoric. Since the first “comfort women” survivors have come forward to testify in South Korea, their stories have proliferated into different channels run by several activist and political organizations, unfortunately leading to inconsistency in the appropriation of this historical issue. Skepticism of the “comfort women” issue has been fueled by the disorganized efforts of South Korea and other nations with histories of Japanese colonization to construct misinformed and hostile narratives of denial that seek to preserve Japanese international clout. This thesis, which looks at Korean, Japanese and international scholarship and documentation on the “comfort women”, with direct reference to testimonies from survivors, seeks to navigate through the politicized obscurity of the issue and address the core elements present in the history of Korean “comfort women” in order to provide a critical perspective behind the importance of the subject. It argues that Korean women were systematically dehumanized and targeted by Imperial Japan, which was motivated by sexual exploitation and cultural genocide, prior to and during the Second World War. This argument is supported with analyses into the cultural devaluing of women, the experiences of capture and collaboration between survivors, and the current state of redress and reconciliation efforts framed by Korean and Japanese post-war memories.
Appears in Collections:Honours Theses

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