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Haunting the Korean Diaspora

Haunting the Korean Diaspora: Shame, Secrecy, and the Forgotten War

Grace M. Cho
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 264
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttsnfm
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  • Book Info
    Haunting the Korean Diaspora
    Book Description:

    Through intellectual vigor, Haunting the Korean Diaspora explores the repressed history of emotional and physical violence between the United States and Korea and the unexamined reverberations of sexual relationships between Korean women and American soldiers. At once political and deeply personal, Cho’s analysis of U.S. neocolonialism and militarism under contemporary globalization brings forth a new way of understanding—and remembering—the impact of the Korean War._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6646-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. A Note on Transliteration
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction The Fabric of Erasure
    (pp. 1-26)

    Yanggongju.Yankee whore. Western princess. GI bride.Yanggalbo. Yangssaekshi.GI’s plaything. UN lady. Bar girl. Entertainment hostess.Wianbu.Fallen woman. Formerly a comfort woman. Formerly called a comfort woman. Daughter of a comfort woman. Camptown prostitute. Military bride.

    According to Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok, “These are often the very words that rule an entire family’s history,” unmentionable words that “give sustenance to the phantom.”²Yanggongju,literally meaning “Western princess,” broadly refers to a Korean woman who has sexual relations with Americans; it is most often used pejoratively to refer to a woman who is a prostitute for the U.S....

  6. 1. Fleshing Out the Ghost
    (pp. 27-49)

    I want to tell you how this female form came to be so ghostly and at the same time so alive. The figure of the yanggongju, as an embodiment of trauma and the secrecy surrounding it, is paradoxically central and shadowy in multiple narratives about Korea’s history and the Korean diaspora’s present. This chapter lays out the theoretical and methodological frameworks for studying the ways in which the traces of trauma embodied in the yanggongju can become legible or, at the very least, their presence can be felt if not fully interpreted. Before I tell the story of how the...

  7. 2. A Genealogy of Trauma
    (pp. 50-88)

    The two quotes above suggest a repetition of trauma that resists all attempts to erase it from personal and public memory. The two speakers, in fact, have much in common despite their divergent outcomes. One is a Korean War survivor who married a U.S. serviceman and was a participant in Ramsay Liem’s oral history project; the other is a Korean American writer’s fictional representation of a postwar military sex worker.¹ One of these women moved to the United States to realize the “American dream,” while the other never made it out of the camptown. Although one speaker is a real...

  8. 3. Tracing the Disappearance of the Yanggongju
    (pp. 89-128)

    This is a story about a collective struggle to resurrect the pieces of some willfully forgotten story and to render the forgotten visible. It is about searching for lost homes and histories, memories and mothers, and finding something else in their place. This chapter conducts a somewhat meandering search for the elusive female figure that haunts the Korean diaspora, drawn out along parallel paths that meet and merge somewhere across the Pacific.

    The first path is located in the shadows of the U.S. military bases that are scattered throughout the southern half of the Korean peninsula. Along this path I...

  9. 4. The Fantasy of Honorary Whiteness
    (pp. 129-161)

    The camptowns around U.S. military bases in Korea are often described as “quicksand” and “islands”—“not part of the sea, not part of the mainland.”¹ For some Korean women, they are exotic locales in which dreams of America are played out through a repeatedly performed romance between Korean women and American soldiers. For others, the camptowns are places haunted by death, from which there is no exit and in which marriage to American GIs is not a lived fantasy as much as a desperate attempt to find “a way out.”² Although the camptowns are understood to be enclosures with tightly...

  10. 5. Diasporic Vision: Methods of Seeing Trauma
    (pp. 162-197)

    In the final pages of Toni Morrison’sThe Bluest Eye,the narrator tells us that “a little black girl yearns for the blue eyes of a little white girl, and the horror at the heart of her yearning is exceeded only by the evil of its fulfillment.”¹ It is a story about a child’s impossible wish, one that comes true alongside the character’s destruction. Pecola Breedlove’s mental breakdown at the end of the novel exemplifies the damaging effects of what W. E. B. Du Bois called “double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others,...

  11. Postscript In Memoriam
    (pp. 198-202)

    I finished writing this on the eve of a departure. It was be my second return to Korea since my childhood, my second return togohyang,a word that means “hometown” that Koreans use to refer to one’s birthplace. I returned again to the place where I was born and that my mother called home, although I do not really consider any place in Korea my home, nor was my mother born there. The second time, I returned not to look for traces of an erased history but to be present in contemporary Korean politics as an activist who embodies...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 203-236)
  13. Index
    (pp. 237-246)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 247-247)