Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/235697
Title: SEX AND NATIONALISM: THE COMPLEXIFICATION OF THE COMFORT WOMAN FIGURE IN SOUTH KOREAN HISTORICAL MEMORY
Authors: ELISABETH LIAN SHI-RI
Keywords: comfort women
yanggongju
comfort woman figure
comfort woman narrative
A Flower in Hell
Obaltan
I Can Speak
Herstory
Japanese imperialism
South Korean historical memory
gender
colonial Korea
post-colonial South Korea
Issue Date: 25-Oct-2022
Citation: ELISABETH LIAN SHI-RI (2022-10-25). SEX AND NATIONALISM: THE COMPLEXIFICATION OF THE COMFORT WOMAN FIGURE IN SOUTH KOREAN HISTORICAL MEMORY. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: This work looks at how the “comfort woman figure” is depicted across four films – A Flower in Hell (1958), Obaltan (1960), I Can Speak (2017) and Herstory (2018). Through a comparative analysis of how the images of yanggongju and comfort women, or the “comfort woman figure”, is constructed within these on-screen narratives, I examine how these depictions relate to contemporary social memory, how they implicitly or explicitly exemplify socio-political struggles, and how they operate along gendered notions of social hierarchy and sexuality. This tracks the evolution in the politicisation of the sexuality and experiences of yanggongju and comfort women, evidence of a progressing effort to recognise, locate and situate the yanggongju and comfort women within existing histories that understand South Korea, ultimately attempting to piece together a cohesive and relevant character of the comfort woman figure. This paper considers how the historiography on the subject of comfort women has progressed from the 1990s till the present, noting that its initial problematisation and development coincided with a point of increasing interest in feminist and gendered histories, and that many recent publications have contextualised the comfort women within the contemporary structures of the Japanese imperial state and neo-colonial American influence. Paying attention to the utility of the “comfort woman narrative” in the legitimisation/perpetuation of historical memory regarding nationalistic post-colonial South Korean attitudes, I aim to make a case for the complexification of the comfort woman figure in history, seeking a characterisation that allows for the simultaneous existence of various truths, that accounts for the shared experience of the women considered yanggongju and comfort women while also making space for them as heterogeneous, overlapping and individual identities.
URI: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/235697
Appears in Collections:Bachelor's Theses

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