S-Space Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원) Institute for Japanese Studies(일본연구소) Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies vol.5 no.1(2019)
Comfort Women of the Empire and the Politics of Memory
- Lee, Hunmi
- Issue Date
- Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol.5 No.1, pp. 81-110
- politics of memory; Comfort Women of the Empire; Park Yu-ha; Japanese military comfort women issue; neo-nationalist historical discourse; post-structural epistemology; international reconciliation
- In this article, I discuss the controversy surrounding Park Yu-has Comfort Women of the Empire in terms of the politics of memory. Park offers problematic perspectives in Comfort Women of the Empire, denying the Japanese states legal responsibility regarding its militarys use of comfort women in the Asia-Pacific War, emphasizing the particularity of Korean comfort women as women from a Japanese colony, and viewing wartime sexual slavery as prostitution and sex work. Both Japanese and Korean scholars have criticized the book from international legal, historical, and feminist perspectives. Since the 1990s, spurred on by the end of the Cold War and the rising tide of democratization, historians all over the world have pursued alternative forms of bottom-up historiography. In this context, the intellectual genealogy of Comfort Women of the Empire can be located at the intersection between poststructural, postmodern historical epistemology and neo-nationalism. As stipulated in the books subtitle, Colonial Rule and Struggles over Memory, the work also deals with the competing memories of various agents regarding the issue of comfort women. The manner in which Park arranges, describes, and interprets these memories is a distinctly problematic aspect of the book. In this article, by introducing feminist, literary, and international political approaches to the issue of comfort women, I criticize Parks representation and narrative pertaining to comfort women.