After the Korean War in 1953, the United States military installed military bases in South Korea to protect the war ravaged country. Many see military presence as a kindness or benevolence, however not many know about the hidden consequences of having a military base close by. Although having a military presence does help protect a nation like South Korea from North Korea or Japan from China, not everyone benefits from this protection. The people that suffer because of militarization anywhere are less privileged women with no other choice. These women’s harsh experiences with sexual labor and violence due to militarization and patriarchy defy the idea of “shared womanhood”.
The idea of “shared womanhood” is experiences and struggles that every woman goes though in her life. A woman’s experiences with family, work, and motherhood are formed by socioeconomic status, race, and citizenship. Militarization and unequal distribution of wealth have challenged the idea of ”shared womanhood” that has more privileged women depend on less privileged women to raise them up from lower classes. This in turn means that not every woman shares the same experiences. Some are worse than others. Due to patriarchy, nationalism, racism, and militization there is no such thing as a “shared womanhood.”
The United States-Republic of Korea Mutual Defense Treaty purpose was to promise the safely of South Korea and the right for the United States to station a military base there permanently. This was put in place immediately after the Korean War in 1954. When it was first signed, South Korea was a poor, war ravaged country. In the 1960’s, it was estimated that 25% of South Korea’s gross national product was contributed by the United States militarization (Lecture, Feb 8th). Camptowns near the military bases contributed estimates of 50% to the local economy in 1990 (Lecture, Feb 8th). Today, South Korea is a modernized, highly urbanized, and high tech society with huge corporations like Samsung and LG.
On the outside, the United States–Republic of Korea Mutual Defense Treaty seems as if everyone benefits out of this. The United States now has a satellite base to contain the communists from spreading. It has helped South Korea become a major economic power in the world, that is undeniable; however, it is at a cost of less privileged women. Countless less privileged women that are left with small amount of choices become sexual laborers or sex workers due to the high demands of militarization. These women are “victims of a system of militarized prostitution that is supported and regulated by the United States military for the benefit of the soldiers” (Yuh, 16). The United States military is fully aware of what is going on in these camptowns but don’t actually do anything to stop it. They even as to go as far as “providing ‘tips’ for patronizing camptown women, advising the soldiers to check the women’s VD card, stick to the licensed club women, and stay away from the...