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From a Nation’s Secret to Pillars of Social Movements: “Comfort Women” at the Crossroads of Nationalism and Feminism

Park, Se Won

The sex slaves of the Japanese Imperial Army, also referred to as “comfort women,” have been historically ignored and sidelined. Despite the growing attention for this issue by both local and international civil society groups and activists since the 1990s, the survivors who continue to demand for justice to this day nevertheless continue to confront the obstacles they faced in the beginning stages of the redress movement. This thesis hypothesizes that this in part has to do with the issue embracing nationalist and feminist identities. As research has shown, Korea’s history since its independence in 1945 has proven that tensions between nationalism and feminism can have hindering effects. In this way, this study aims to determine how the relationship between nationalism and feminism since the beginning of the feminism movement in Korea has attributed to the silence as well as the discoveries of this issue. Building on past scholarship on top of interviews conducted with organizations and individuals both directly and indirectly involved with the sex slaves of the Japanese Imperial Army issue, this thesis attempts to shed light on the past challenges as well as current trajectories of the movement.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Mouradian, Khatchig
Degree
M.A., Columbia University
Published Here
August 24, 2020