- Series: Worlds of Desire: The Chicago Series on Sexuality, Gender, and Culture
- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (February 15, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0226767760
- ISBN-13: 978-0226767765
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,955,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Comfort Women: Sexual Violence and Postcolonial Memory in Korea and Japan (Worlds of Desire: The Chicago Series on Sexuality, Gender, and Culture)
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Books with Buzz
Discover the latest buzz-worthy books, from mysteries and romance to humor and nonfiction. Explore more
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
About the Author
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
More than anyone in American academia, she fully understands the complexity of the issue as demonstrated in her extensive research, and she is undoubtedly the most qualified to discuss the matter objectively, having received education in Japanese, Korean, and English. Moreover, she is currently a resident and scholar in the United States, making her independent of any activist groups from overseas, which allows her to speak freely without compromising academic integrity. While I personally do not support transnational feminism which is what the professor identifies herself with, this book must be thoroughly studied in order to partake in any reasonable discussion on the issue of Imperial Japan’s Comfort Women system. A solid 4.5 stars for the depth of the research and the overall objectivity that is maintained throughout the book.
Only fours stars because sometimes the writing got awkward, like when she would unnecessarily provide the Korean pronunciation for a random word. Some made sense because they were thematic and appeared often throughout the book, but others seemed to just be there as a reminder that you are reading about people in another country who spoke another language.
C. Sarah Soh, as a native Korean who was fortunate to receive formal education both in her homeland and abroad, has produced a masterful examination of a controversial issue involving Korea and Japan which people from both countries have long oversimplified.
Koreans generally believe that Imperial Japan's leadership ordered, planned, and executed the gunpoint kidnapping of thousands of Korean females and summarily shipped them like chattel to frontline brothels.
Japanese people - at least those who know this issue - either agree that the Koreans were largely victimized, or claim that this is a gross fabrication and that the comfort women were essentially willing prostitutes.
Professor Soh cites several examples, such as interviews with survivors, to show that the truth is far more complex. Some survivors stated they were not forcibly taken by Japanese troops. Others are shown to have bought their way to freedom with earnings - earnings??? Yes. Hence the question - if the comfort women were slaves, they wouldn't have had wages. Then what were they: slaves or prostitutes or something else?
Additionally, Professor Soh does the reader a huge service by detailing the sociocultural contexts of 1930s-1940s Korea and Japan. Information on views on sex, women, and the sexism that characterized pre-modern Korean and Japanese societies is provided, thus presenting the reader with a better understanding of what facilitated the existence of "sex care work" in both societies. Anyone familiar with Korea and Japan today will be aware that extramarital affairs have been generally tolerated, historically speaking, and that older men have often availed themselves of sexual services provided by far younger women.
The comfort women issue did not happen in a vacuum. Japanese generals didn't wake up one day, deciding to 'award' their enlisted men with females to sate their urges, and they didn't decide to violently seize thousands of Korean women at will. As a reader of Korean ethnicity myself, I know this is a painful subject, and I personally believe there were abductions. But as the attentive reader will see, the story is far more diverse and much more complicated that flag-waving nationalists on either side of the East Sea (or, as some call it, the Sea of Japan), would want us to believe.
It is worth noting (somewhat of a spoiler alert) that Professor Soh was shunned and coldly treated by South Koreans who are involved in the redress movement after those activists learned of the fruits of her research. I wonder why. Did Professor Soh's findings upset their ostensibly benign agenda? Is there something she uncovered the redress activists preferred not to even know and prefer that their compatriots remain ignorant of?
If the comfort women issue is of any interest to you, read this book. It is a must-have in the library of any serious student of Korea's modern history.