Prostitution Near Bases Were Permitted by US and South Korean Governments

A group of ex-prostitutes in South Korea have come forward in bold move accusing their former government leaders of enabling prostitution, and encouraging it near the US bases in South Korea.

While prostitution is often commonly found near military bases, the shocking part of this story is that both the U.S. government and the South Korean government were actively involved in this activity (prostitution is illegal in Korea.) South Korean government leaders actively supported the prostitution, calling the women “dollar-earning patriots,” fueled by the desire for foreign dollars as well as fearful that the American soldiers would want to leave if they were unhappy. The women were made to wear numbers so soldiers could easily identify sex partners. Very concentration camp-like, no?

US government leaders became involved when fears of STDs spreading prompted regulatory action. Women were routinely raided at night clubs, detained if they looked sick, and locked up in “monkey-houses” with bars on the windows, forced to take medication until they were healthy. Women subsequently gave birth to mixed race children, many of whom were given up for adoption overseas.

The women — now in their 50’s-70’s — are now making the news as they seek an apology and reparation from the Korean government. South Korea, as many know, have been in protest against the Japanese government, demanding an apology for the wartime practice of prostituting Korean women during the war as “comfort women”. But when the same practice is a direct financial profit and benefits South Korea, it’s okay and encouraged. The hypocrisy is shocking.

My dad recently served several years as a US soldier at the army base in Korea (named “Dragon Hill” or “Yong-San”) and I lived with my parents for a few months there. It was well known that “hooker hill” was nearby, but hardly did I pass by thinking that this was instituted by the government.

“Our government was one big pimp for the US military…”

I applaud the women who have come forward; they are extremely brave, and hopefully history will remember them as heroes who stood up against illegal acts and demanded recognition.

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About Jen

I’m a Korean-American living in the bay area, I studied public health and social work in grad school, and I have an obsession for anything theater related, especially ballet and Broadway musicals. I just spent three years in NYC so I am still adjusting to normal winter weather and having a car, and most of the time, I am busy funding my passion for theater with a full-time job in healthcare public relations. On any given day, you can find me watching Project Runway, shopping, doing yoga, skipping to the theater, or looking for the perfect cocktail.
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