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Korea Journal

  • P-ISSN0023-3900
  • E-ISSN2733-9343

Can the Comfort Women Speak?: Mainstream US Media Representations of the Japanese Military Sex Slaves

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2021, v.61 no.1, pp.22-45
이찬행 (충북대학교)
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Abstract

The US media’s coverage of the comfort women issue has primarily focused on three main aspects: human rights, nationalist conflict, and security. First, American newspapers and magazines asked the Japanese government to apologize to the former comfort women by revealing the misery of their lives through a discussion of human rights. However, that discussion not only reflected the East-West power imbalance, but even served to promote voyeurism and sexual fantasies. Second, following the end of the Cold War, as tensions between South Korea and Japan over the issue have escalated, US media have increasingly taken a position as middleman, indifferent to the history of these women. The US media have scolded both South Korea and Japan for their nationalistic conflict. Third, the US media began to employ a security discourse on the comfort women issue as the controversy between South Korea and Japan deteriorated to a level that threatened the interests of the United States in East Asia and disrupted the Obama administration’s “Pivot to Asia” strategy. US media have played the role of midwife for the birth of the 2015 South Korea-Japan Comfort Women Agreement by shaping and disseminating a security discourse.

keywords
US media comfort women subaltern Cold War post-Cold War human rights nationalism security

Korea Journal