The construction of comfort women as social policy problem: with the focus on the South Korean government response

Seojin An

MEd(Res) thesis, conferred 2015

This research is an analysis of the South Korean response to Korean women who were trafficked for the purpose of sexual slavery to the Japanese Imperial army during the Second World War. The research utilizes Bacchi’s analytical tool: ‘What’s the problem represented to be?’. A critical analysis of key South Korean policies pertaining to Comfort Women was prompted by an awareness of observed discrepancies in the support provided to trafficked people in Australia and South Korea.

Exploring the history of responses to the Comfort Women and their current situation is conducted with a particular focus on the South Korean government’s policy and legislative responses. This also provides a background to how South Korea positions itself in relation to the still very vocal Comfort Women movement. Diverse discussions centering on sex trafficking in an international context and postcolonial feminist ideas in relation to the Comfort Women system are assessed to develop an explanatory platform for the critical analysis.

This research revealed that the South Korean government has positioned itself in the role of a welfare provider in addressing the Comfort Women issues leaving a significant gap in policy responses to the political and social positioning of the Comfort Women.

Key words: Comfort Women, South Korean social policy, The Japanese Military Sexual Slavery, Post-colonialism, Carol Bacchi

Supervisor: Associate Professor Ruth Phillips