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C. Sarah Soh explains how the comfort women system emerged from the nexus of patriarchy, colonialism, capitalism and militarism, placing it in an ongoing continuum of women’s subjugation and exploitation. Controversially, she asserts that it is inaccurate to depict the comfort women as sex slaves and the system as a war crime.

Soh’s main target is the Korean Council, an umbrella organization of activist groups involved in the redress movement, arguing that it has sensationalized the story, imposing a misleading narrative of victimization while brooking no dissent. She contends that “the canonized story of police or the military forcibly dragging them away from loving parents” is a shibboleth and accuses the redress movement of employing “strategic exaggerations that have effectively impeded deeper understanding of the comfort women issue and any real progress toward its resolution.” In her view, the onus is on Korean society to repudiate victimization, admit its complicity in the comfort women’s trauma, and accept that the entire system was not criminal.

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