Added: October 3, 2015 – Last updated: October 3, 2015


Author: Joseph Michael Grzebyk

Title: Korean Comfort Women

Subtitle: How Japanese Military Expansion Within East Asia Led to Systematized Prostitution Between 1910 and 1945

Thesis: M.A. Thesis, California State University at Chico

Year: Spring 2015

Pages: vi + 100pp.

OCLC Number: 921309734 – Find a Library: WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century | Asian History, Japanese History, Korean History | Types: Forced Prostitution / "Comfort Women"; Types: Wartime Rape / Asia-Pacific War


Link: Chico Digital Repository (Free Access)



»Japan’s military aggression throughout East Asia during World War II largely hinged on the colonization of Korea. Although Japan controlled various other areas of Asia, Korea had a variety of valuable resources that aided Japanese Imperialism. Korea was a country that possessed tactical military advantages, valuable natural resources, and the abundant potential for human labor. Although Japan benefitted from colonizing Korea, Koreans struggled under the yoke of Japanese oppression. At the heart of Korean suffering lies the creation of prostitution centers known as comfort stations. Japan abducted or “enlisted” somewhere around 200,000 Korean women for centers established near areas frequented by Japanese troops. Many of the women kidnapped by Japanese recruiters existed in a state of virtual slavery and exposed to a battery of daily beatings and rapes. As a result of culture and shame, numerous survivors of comfort stations hid their experiences for the better part of fifty years. Only recently has the issue surfaced in popular media. The Japanese government managed to hide the guilt of their actions after the war, but in the face of current accusations, they are no longer able to deny the actions of their military and the existence of comfort women.
My research attempts to deconstruct the commonly accepted narrative about comfort women. What would the phenomenon look like from a different perspective – one that didn’t assume Japanese guilt? I attempt to build a counter-factual history to see if the story of Japanese colonization and exploitation of Korean women might be more complex than it looks on the surface. For the basis of my study, I decided to look at the factors that contributed to the rise of Korean women in comfort stations. The main questions that guided my research explored other plausible explanations for the exposure of Korea women to sexual predators. For instance, how did the Japanese colonization of Korea create an avenue for Korean oppression, manipulation, and abduction? Also, did modernization play a role in the rise of Korean comfort women? Finally and most importantly, this thesis explores the premise of a possible relationship between Korean culture, beliefs, and history in the creation of comfort women.« (Source: Thesis)


  Preface. Romanization and McCune System (p. iv)
  Abstract (p. v)
  Chapter I. Introduction (p. 1)
  Chapter II. Origin of Japanese Prostitution (p. 11)
  Chapter III. Why Korean Comfort Women? (p. 39)
    Modern Changes (p. 40)
    Recruitment (p. 55)
    Colonialism and the Gisaeng (p. 63)
  Chapter IV. Why an Issue Today? (p. 75)
  Chapter V. Conclusion (p. 93)
  Bibliography (p. 96)
    Primary Korean Sources (p. 96)
    Primary Sources (p. 96)
    Secondary Sources (p. 97)

Wikipedia: Forced prostitution, Comfort women; Wartime sexual violence, Japanese war crimes Pacific War