Militarized Prostitution in Korea

Camptown Prostitution

First Phase of Camptown Evolution

1945 - 1948

Soh 211. "During the first face, the american military government's elimination of licensed prostitution led to privatization of the sex trade. In the post-liberation political chaos and economic destitution, many people, including prostitutes from the now-closed brothels, gathered near the American military bases. These camptown women were called "Western Princesses." Soh 211. Wianbu

Second Phase of Camptown Evolution

1950 - 1971

Sex trade consolidated and expanded, beginning with the Korean war. Truck would bring women on the weekends and such. Soh 212

Nixon Doctrine

July 24 1969

"concerning the withdrawal of American troops resulted in the pullout of 20,000 U.S. troops from Korea by the end of 1971. (See Katharine Moon) Soh 212

Third Phase of Camptown Evolution

1971 - 1987

" A result of two important events that brought to a head underlying tensions between teh Korean and U.S. governments. (Katharine Moon has discussed these in detail in her study of the role military prostitution played in the strategic relationship between these two unequal states in the 1970s). 1) Nixon Doctrine 2) Racial Discrimination between soldiers. Soh 212



"Soldiers also complained about "unhygienic camptown women and demanded that they be treated better as 'VIPs who came to rescue Korea.'" Soh 212 The Korean government, under the general-turned president Park Chung Hee, wished to prevent further withdrawals of U.S. troops and responded quickly and positively to the demands of the American military. To deal with the complaint of unhygienic conditions in the camptown sex industry, the Korean government started a clean-up campaign that included infrastructural improvements and enforced regular medical examinations of prostitutes [not the soldiers]; infected women were to be detained at special centers Thus the government began active engagement in surveillance and control of prostitutes servicing the U.S. military. Camptown Prostitution, for all practical purposes, had taken on the characteristics of licensed prostitution." Soh 212

Racial Discrimination


" A series of fights between black and white soldiers broke out in the summer of 1971 over racial discrimination practiced at local bars. Soh 212

Fourth Phase of Camptown Evolution

1987 - 1/10/13

"In the fourth phase, since the late 1980s, the camptown sex industry has been reshaped by the development of industry-type prostitution in the broader society. The growth of adult entertainment industry has created a host of new types of sexual care work that offers prostitution as a by-product of legal personal care services at such places as massage parlors, bathhouses, and barbershops. Thewe new types of sexual care work have spread to the camptowns as well. Women in these businesses sometimes turn to the camptowns on weekends to earn extra money or to meat teenaters and college students visit camptown looking for opportunities to practice their English and make friends with American servicemen. Some of these "wanderers" turn into camptown sex workers." Soh 213 ALSO: notable feature - influx of foreign women from "third world" countries. "Korea's economic success and the expansion of the domestic sex industry have made camptown sex work less attractive for young Korean women" Soh 213 Therefore, Philippines and Russia.



American soldier named Kenneth Markle brutally murdered Yun Kum-i; ~3,000 people demonstration in 1992. the series of demonstrations that eventually led to the formation of the National Campaign for Eradication of Crime by U.S. Troops in Korea. According to NCECUSTK: 1993-1996 average 2 crimes a day. Korean government exercised jurisdiction in 0.7 percent of cases Soh 215

Foreign > Korean


Foreign women outnumbered Korean women in the camptown clubs for the American military in the northern Kyonggi Province. Filipino > Russian.
Korean workers become jealous and see the hiring of foreigners as unpatriotic and losing foreign currency to them and "robbing Korean sex workers of the opportunity to 'help the national economy by earning foreign currency.'" Soh 214
"It is ironic that the rhetoric of patriotism started by male government officials has thus come full circle: now it is the sex workers themselves who resort to it to rally nationalist support against their foreign competitors." Soh 214


Koryo Dynasty

918 - 1392

Soh 218

Choson Dynasty

1392 - 1910

Soh 219

Time of King Sejong

1418 - 1450

Kisaeng life began to be dominated by sex work. Soh 218

Kanghwa Treaty (K-J)


Sino-Japanese War

1894 - 1895

Prompted more Japanese soldiers in Korea - went hand in hand with forming more comfort camps and licensed prostitution.

Russo-Japanese War

1904 - 1905

Prompted more Japanese soldiers in Korea - went hand in hand with forming more comfort camps and licensed prostitution.

Japan Annexed Korea


The system of licensed prostitution was in full swing. Soh 9

Korea Colonized by Japan

1910 - 1945

Licensed prostitution was in full swing.

Second Sino-Japanese War

July 7 1937 - September 2 1945

World War II

1939 - 1945

Japanese troops needed prostitutes.

U.S. Neo-Imperialism

1945 - 1971

Korean War

June 1950 - July 1953

Licensed Prostitution in Korea Under Japan

Modern Lisenced Prostitution Begins


After Kanghwa Treaty. It was first put into practice at the Japanese settlement in the port city of Pusan in 1881. Soh 8

~3,000 Japanese Overseas Prostitutes in Korea


# Korean Prostitutes In Korea Increase 50%

1910 - 1915

1,193 - 1,768 Soh 9

# Japanese Prostitutes In Korea Increase < 20%

1910 - 1915

4,091 - 4, 680 Soh 9

Prostitution in Korea Dwindles

1920 - 1937

With the Great Depression, lisenced prostitution in Korea dwindled, because the prostitutes were either sold or migrated to China. Madams migrated to China, too. 1930s - 1945 there was large scale mobilization of Korean prostitutes to the Japanese troops.

Prostitution in Korea Recovers

1937 - 1943

Soh 10

Prostitution in Korea Stunted


With the intensifying war efforts, in early 1940s, many adult entertainment businesses had to shut down. Soh 10

Licensed Prostitution Abolished

November 1947

Licensed Prostitution in Korea was Abolished in 1947 under the U.S. Military government. Soh 217

Districts Allowed (semi-support)


General Park Chung Hee took power through a coup in 1961, and legislated the Prostitution Prevention Law "as part of his social purification drive." The government compromised: in 1962 104 special districts for foreign-catering prostitution received semiofficial support. Soh 217

Districts Abolished


In 1972, with the formation of the Korea International Tourism Association, the special districts for prostitution set up in 1962 were abolished. Prostitution Prevention Law no longer applied to women servicing foreign visitors or U.S. servicemen in the camptowns. Women had to go through orientation, and have their health checked before acquiring a licence. Soh 221


Confucian Officials Want Kisaeng Abolished

1420 - 1425

Confucian officials during the time of King Sejong wanted the institution of Kisaeng (being used primarily for sex) to be abolished. It was argued that if this happened, sex crimes would increase. It is interesting that this is a similar argument to what the Japanese officials used. It was a very biological, "men will be men," masculine sexuality superiority argument.

Kisaeng Comfort Women


A Japanese man set up a "geisha house" that dispatched Kisaeng to restaurants and collected their wages. Soh 8

Kisaeng Tourism

1965 - 1/10/13

It is clear that " the economic development policies of the state, especially after the normalization of diplomatic relations with Japan in 1965, have helped it prosper. The state-led economic development plans emphasized growth through exports; they kept wages low ad working hours long. The state launched a series of five-year economic plans to help achieve a "miracle on the Han" by exploiting, among other things, the labor of working-class people, especially young women employed at manufacturies....Further, in an effort to earn foreign currency, the Korean government condoned, if not formally facilitated, toe commodification of sexual services by young Korean women billed as Kisaeng." Soh 220 When it started? Normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and Korea helped it to prosper. Soh 220. Japanese will come to Korea to seek out the servises of such "Kisaeng." "The Korean government condoned the commodification of sexual services by Kisaeng. These interactions were believed by the state to possibly be important in the economic development of the country (the Kisaengs earned foreign currency)>

Tourism Promotion Law


Soh 221

The Role of Korean State

Japanese Imperial Army Criminal Law

February 1942

Acknowledged rape as a single major criminal offense. 1-lifetimein jail.


1966 - 1/10/13

U.S. Military decides whether a U.S. soldier charged with a crime will be given to the Korean authorities.

KNTC begins issuing official id


Role of Japanese State