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Vamping the StageFemale Voices of Asian Modernities$
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Andrew N. Weintraub and Barb Barendreght

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780824869861

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824869861.001.0001

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The “Comfort Women” and the Voices of East Asian Modernity

The “Comfort Women” and the Voices of East Asian Modernity

(p.107) Chapter 5 The “Comfort Women” and the Voices of East Asian Modernity
Vamping the Stage

Joshua D. Pilzer

University of Hawai'i Press

Korea’s colonial modernity (1910-45) notably produced both female pop stars and legions of sex workers, a sex-industrial development which reached its zenith in the “comfort women,” the Japanese military’s wartime system of sexual slavery during the Asia-Pacific War (1931-45). The concurrent rise of the female voice in Korean popular music and the rise of colonial sex industries are not the result of opposing forces of modernization and barbarism, but deeply intertwined parts of the search for the place of women in colonial modernity. This chapter, through a detailed analysis of the references to popular music and dance in the testimony of former Korean “comfort women,” seeks to reconstruct the place of these performing arts in the “comfort women” system.  Legitimization of colonial modernization, the commodification of women, and new opportunities for women enabled by the figure of the colonial female pop star can also be found in her dystopian sibling, the “comfort woman.” The musical life of the “comfort women” system provides a stark example of the deeply ambivalent place of entertaining women in emergent Japanese and Korean popular cultures, and of the grain of the voice of East Asian colonial modernity.

Keywords:   sex industry, colonial modernity, Asia-Pacific War, comfort women, Japan, Korea, East Asia

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