- Organizer: Nodutdol for Korean Community Development
- Venue: Asian American Writers’ Workshop
110-112 West 27th Street, Suite 600
New York, NY 10001 United States
- Website: www.aaww.org
Presented by Nodutdol for Korean Community Development. Co-sponsored by the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU, Asian American Political Activism Coalition at NYU, and Rutgers Global.
Since 1953, the United States has stationed soldiers in South Korea. “Camptowns,” constructed near and around US military bases and installations, are heavily regulated areas characterized by forced prostitution and inhumane conditions for the women and sex workers living in the camps. For over six decades, soldiers, with cooperation from South Korean authorities and the US military, have exploited thousands of women. Up until now, both South Korea and the US military have disavowed responsibility for the “camptowns.”
On February 8, 2018, Korean feminist activists won an unprecedented lawsuit for kijichon halmonis (“camptown grandmothers” or “comfort women”) in Korean courts. The Central District Court in Seoul ruled in partial favor of comfort women and sex workers, who had been forced to work around the US bases since the 1950s, in the name of military alliance and profits. This ruling is the first demonstration of the Korean state’s acknowledging some of their crimes against women, ordering monetary reparations to some of the plaintiffs. While the lawsuit was not a complete victory on behalf of the sex workers in “camptowns,” it began a broader conversation about politics of accountability in and around US military bases.
Eun-Jin Kim and Young-Nim Yu (representatives of Durebang, a Korea-based organization committed to ending sexual exploitation) will speak alongside Ju-Hee Ha (the attorney who represented the plaintiffs), Jeong-Mi Park (researcher), and Tae-Jung Kim (coordinator of the speaking tour, and staff member of Sunlit Shelter). This event is one stop on a larger speaking tour to inform U.S.-based educators and activists about the case and advocacy, as well as to touch on the issues of militarism, violence against women, military occupation, sexual exploitation, and related conditions in Korea.