Yanggongju as an allegory of the nation: Images of working-class women in popular and radical texts

Hyun Sook Kim's essay examining representations of working-class South Korean sex workers for U.S. military in popular and radical texts, both of which fix the identities of the women as "bad"/"good" and treat the female body as a metaphorical map of the Korean nation.

Published in Dangerous Women: Gender and Korean Nationalism (2012).

Submitted by wojtek on March 12, 2020



4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by wojtek on May 7, 2020

Cited at the end of this critique of a Novara Media piece which has not aged well imo given OECD ranking, 'Kim Ji-young, Born 1982', Burning Sun scandal, spycam problem, Nth room.

Can any Korean speakers verify/find out more about the following?

While political protests have been organized by sex workers, they have received scant public attention. However, a few significant examples of collective action are worth mentioning. In May 1971, Kim and other sex workers organized a protest in Songt'an. The American soldiers had distributed leaflets that read, "Shoes $5, Short-time $5, Long time $10." Equating women's bodies with merchandise, the soldiers were demanding that the price of sexual service be reduced. Kim played a key role in mobilizing over one thousand sex workers to demonstrate in front of the army base. "We are not shoes! We are human beings!" The women demanded that the soldiers who distributed the flyers be forced to resign. The women's demands were not only ignored, but they were forced to disperse by the Korean and military police.

In June 1977, in "America Town" in Kunsan, a sex worker named Yi Pok-hi was strangled to death and her body scorched. A month later, another sex worker named Yi Y ng-sun was killed. An American soldier, Steven Warren Towerman, admitted to killing both women, but at the time of the incident, neither the Korean police nor the U.S. military police investigated the murders.31 Instead, the Korean police covered up the incident, declaring that there was "insufficient evidence." Then, apparently, no activists stepped forward to hold up these sex workers as national symbols, but Kim Y n-ja mobilized sex workers to demonstrate against the indifference and apathy of Korean and U.S. military police.


4 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by wojtek on June 19, 2020

Service Economies: Sex work, militarism and migrant labor

Bloodless (2017)

Bloodless is a 12minute VR film that deals with camp town sex workers for US army stationed in South Korea since the 1950s. The film traces the last living moments of a real-life sex worker who was brutally murdered by a US soldier at the Dongducheon Camptown in South Korea in 1992. Portraying the last hours of her life in the camp town, the VR film transposes a historical and political issue into a personal and concrete experience. This film was shot on location where the crime took place, bringing to light ongoing experiences at the 96 camp towns near or around the US military bases.