New York, Jan 8 (ANI): A group of former prostitutes in South Korea have accused some of their country's former leaders of encouraging them to have sex with American soldiers who protected their country from North Korea, The New York Times has reported.
They have also accused past South Korean Governments, and the United States military, of taking a direct hand in the sex trade from the 1960s through the 1980s, working together to build a testing and treatment system to ensure that prostitutes were disease-free for American troops.
While the women have made no claims that they were coerced into prostitution by South Korean or American officials during those years, they accuse successive Korean Governments of hypocrisy in calling for reparations from Japan while refusing to take a hard look at South Korea's own history.
"Our government was one big pimp for the US military," one of the women, Kim Ae-ran, 58, said in a recent interview.
Scholars say the South Korean Government was motivated in part by fears that the American military would leave, and that it wanted to do whatever it could to prevent that.
But the women suggest that the government also viewed them as commodities to be used to shore up the country's struggling economy in the decades after the Korean War, the paper reported.
They say the government not only sponsored classes for them in basic English and etiquette meant to help them sell themselves more effectively, but also sent bureaucrats to praise them for earning dollars when South Korea was desperate for foreign currency.
"They urged us to sell as much as possible to the G.I.'s, praising us as 'dollar-earning patriots,' " The NYT quoted Kim, as saying.
The United States military, the scholars say, became involved in attempts to regulate the trade in so-called camp towns surrounding the bases because of worries about sexually transmitted diseases.
In one of the most incendiary claims, some women say that the American military police and South Korean officials regularly raided clubs from the 1960s through the 1980s looking for women who were thought to be spreading the diseases.
They picked out the women using the number tags the women say the brothels forced them to wear so the soldiers could more easily identify their sex partners.
The South Korean Ministry of Gender Equality, which handles women's issues, declined to comment on the former prostitutes' accusations. So did the American military command in Seoul. (ANI)