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Music, Interpellation, and Violence among Korean Survivors of the Japanese Military “Comfort Women”

Thursday Lecture Series, Violence and Critique

dateMarch 25, 2010 timeThursday, 12:15pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Columbia University

There are numerous ways to understand the place of violence in the lives of the survivors of Japanese military sexual slavery during the Asia Pacific War (1910-45), but it is perhaps most important to ask how survivors have thought about and responded to violence. Over the many years since the end of the war, survivors have culled resources for framing and understanding violence from folk and popular culture, making them their own.

Owing to the long era of public secrecy that separated the end of the Japanese colonial era in Korea (1910-45) and the beginning of the political movement to secure apology and reparations from the Japanese government for the crimes of the wartime sexual slavery system, Korean survivors of the “comfort women system” made use of veiled expressive forms such as song and film to reckon with their experiences of violence and forge social selves. It is here we must look to understand both the different ways that the women have responded to violent experience and the ways in which violence became a condition of subjectivity, hence shaping and guiding those responses.