The Comfort Women of WWII

Maija Rhee Devine
Tuesday, September 20, 2016 -
7:30pm to 9:00pm
Second floor Residents’ Lounge, Somerset Palace
10,000 won for non-members and 5,000 won for students (with student ID); free for members

Who were they? Sex slaves, prostitutes, or kidnapped girls forced to provide sex to Japanese soldiers? Since their stories jumped into the spotlight in the early 1990s—after over forty years of silence—controversies have embroiled the issue. Conflicting conjectures continue. How many comfort women were there? What were their lives like before, during, and after their time as comfort women? How should we teach future generations about this chapter of WWII history?

Presenting the issues from multiple viewpoints, this lecture will provide images and testimonies of the women themselves as well as the historical, political, and societal context in which women and girls in Korea and other Asian countries became Comfort Women. What role did a Confucian patriarchal way of life and the political and socio-economic distress resulting from poverty, war, and Japanese colonial rule play in tens of thousands of women and girls being led away and coerced into providing sex to Japanese soldiers?

What happened to the Korean, Chinese, Filippina and other Comfort Women after WWII ended? Their struggles to return home, the conflicted, less than warm reception of them by their families and societies, and efforts to strike out on their own will be evoked. Discussion of the controversies surrounding the Japanese apology and compensation issues will complete the lecture.

A Korean-born author, Maija Rhee Devine earned a B.A. from Sogang University in Seoul and received a Fulbright award to complete an M.A. at St. Louis University in Missouri. She taught English as a Second Language at numerous universities in the U.S.A. as well as Asian culture courses at University of Kansas. Her book, The Voices of Heaven, won four book awards in 2014, and her short stories and poems have appeared in anthologies and literary journals including Michigan Quarterly, The North American Review, and The Kenyon Review. Her current projects include authoring a novel and a non-fiction historical narrative about Korean Comfort Women of WWII. She teaches a course on Comfort Women through the Osher Institute at University of Kansas.

a giant comfort woman balloon

Contact Us

Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch
Room 611, Korean Christian Building, Daehak-ro 19 (Yeonji-dong), Jongno-gu, Seoul 03129
[03129] 서울시 종로구 대학로 19 (연지동) 한국기독교회관 611호

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Phone (02) 763-9483 FAX (02) 766-3796

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