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Sex Among Allies Paperback – November 5, 1997

14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0231106436 ISBN-10: 0231106432 Edition: 0th

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Editorial Reviews

Review

In a carefully researched study of U.S. military prostitution in Korea, Moon validates Cynthia Enloe's claim that the personal is international. These moving stories tell how the lives of Korean prostitutes in the 1970s served as nearly invisible instruments of U.S.-Korean military policies at the highest level. Moon's innovative case study demonstrates how a Cold War alliance was maintained at the price of these women's personal insecurity and challenges us to reconsider the human costs of international security policies.

(J. Ann Tickner)

About the Author

Katherine H. S. Moon is assistant professor of political science at Wellesley College.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (April 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231106432
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231106436
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #718,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book gives an excellent history of US-ROK relations re: the US military troops in S. Korea. It also gives a vivid and detailed snapshot of the harsh, and sometimes brutal and tragic lives, of military prostitutes in the "camptowns." And finally, it provides international backdrop, context and setting of the Nixon doctrine, S. Korea's regime during the 1960's and 1970's, and aspects about the political economy. There is such a dearth of information on all these subjects taken from the POV of these women and on this topic, that I give this book 4 stars because it finally sheds light on a little-known area. It is indeed very well-written and informative. I felt I learned much about the macro and micro worlds of the US military in S. Korea from a very different and neglected perspective.
Unfortunately, it's not a history book, but a sociological study. There, I would have to say is the book's weakness. The author's argument is that the women are not just "passive victims" but rather, "players" who played an indispensable role in US-ROK relations. She builds her argument by pointing out that typical state-to-state relations involving elites, government institutions, and "men in suits" fail to address how non-elite, lower-level "actors" play a role and how international policies not only impinge on their bodies but also how they express some "agency," or autonomy by the women themselves. This comes off as a somewhat exaggerated argument, tenuous at best, and only plausible in the ideal world of academia. It seems more like she is trying to set up a "straw person" argument that combines feminist theory, organizational theory, and sociological analysis. All fine and good for the acedmics, but I wasn't very convinced as a lay reader.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By William F. Kenney on November 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
The Korea we knew as military troops was only a spot on the map. Did any of us take the time to understand the people we interfaced with, How our culture interwined with theres. This book is thought provking and brings many issues to the surface. A chance for our troops to understand the whole picture.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By singalongsong on June 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
Dr. Moon has really outdone herself. The topic of militarism on the Korean peninsula is usually dominated with discussions surrounding regional security or a general take on the Korean War itself. It should be noted that this is the first book of its kind- a detailed drawing on the lives of Korean prostitutes through institutionalized military prostitution as a means to the preservation of US-ROK relations. This book gives a more nuanced version of historical events surrounding the impact of a US military presence in Korea. You won't find any heroic war stories or grand narratives of the success of this Cold War to modern day alliance. It's an uncomfortable topic that people are reluctant to address but I'm glad that Dr. Moon has done so through this book. Very important, and extremely well researched.
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17 of 25 people found the following review helpful By juicyking@aol.com on December 22, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book of personal research is done excellently. It describes how the Korean Prostitutes in and around military installations in Korea were treated and harassed on a almost daily basis. This was not only done by the Korean National Police but also by the Military and Security Police of the U.S. Military. It also talks about how the woman of these camp towns were treated and abused by the South Korean government and were used as a pawn chip in a much larger game - Politics. They were used to help the Korean Government keep the United States in the country and not withdraw their forces, but also help deter the North Korean threat of invasion. I could relate to this matter, based on firsthand knowledge of what went on and what I saw on a daily basis while stationed there for 15 months. It is a very interesting reading especially for people who have been stationed in Korea and know first hand how the whole situation works. This book will give people insight on how things operated in order for other governments to keep our military within their own country; even if it meant that certain people were going to get hurt or if people were going to be disgraced.
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A very narrow picture of Korean prostitution written because Korean Americans are embarrassed most of them were able to emigrate to the US because a female relation married an American serviceman, whether the female in question was a prostitute or not. Still it paints an accurate depiction of the sordid little world that sprung up around US military sites in the Republic of Korea and calls into question the South Korean and US complicity in the victimization of the women of the gijichon.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Smith on January 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
Case studies are decidedly difficult to objectively review because one isn't just reviewing the accuracy of details and author neutrality but also the writing style and subject matter, as well. A boring case study, important as it may be, might be less entertaining than one of relatively low importance but that is easy to get into. This book is caught somewhere in between the two. Sex Among Allies is, nonetheless, an important study that deals with Korean prostitution around American military installations from the 50s to the late 80s, particularly with their change prompted by the "Nixon" Doctrine of 1971.

The premise that not only did prostitution thrive among American servicemembers and Korean women during this time but that it was sanctioned by the American military and the Korean government is alarming. As such, the illegal business were allegedly managed by local police and enforced by club owners. Negative impacts on society such as rampant spreading of venereal disease, racial tensions among white and black soldiers (and local business owners) and the social stigma of association was the women's to bear alone. The book's objectively is called into question by placing virtually all blame on both governments' efforts to promote prostitution as a means of recreation for soldiers; the women to sacrifice themselves to be "personal ambassadors" from Korea. Many of these objections were addressed in a mass cleanup effort in the early 1970s.

The story Professor Moon tells, however, is unmistakably genuine. The social stigma of such work forced many women, mostly from low educational backgrounds, to be stuck in a constant cycle of debt and abuse with little chance to better themselves.
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