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Who are the Ianfu (Comfort Women)? - New Voices

Who are the Ianfu (Comfort Women)? - New Voices

Who are the Ianfu (Comfort Women)? - New

New Voices Volume 2 Who are the Ianfu (Comfort Women)? Kirsten Orreill University of Queensland Abstract The aim of this article is to understand who the Ianfu are via a social-historical and socio-cultural study. I set out to contextualise the reality of the women’s lives as Ianfu and as surviving Ianfu through the inclusion of recollections of former Korean Ianfu and official histories. Who are the Ianfu, what did they do, where did they go, why were they created, and what happened to them? These are the questions that I sought to answer in order to frame the Ianfu experience through a retelling of their past. Furthermore, there are several reasons why Korean women came to comprise the majority of Ianfu which I endeavour to explain in this article. Keywords Comfort Women, Ianfu, Pacific War, Rape, Slavery Introduction ‘A commissioned officer took me to the next room which was partitioned off by a cloth. Even though I did not want to go he dragged me into the room. I resisted but he tore off all of my clothes and in the end he took my virginity. That night, the officer raped me twice.’ 1 This is the testimony of Kim Hak-sun who was among as many as 200,000 women – mainly Korean but also Burmese, Chinese, Dutch, Eurasians, Indians, Indonesian, Japanese, Filipina, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, and Pacific Islanders – who were tricked, coerced, or kidnapped by the Japanese military into a life of forced ‘military sexual slavery’ 2 during the Asia-Pacific War which is commonly known to the Japanese as 1 Yoshimi, Jūgun Ianfu (Comfort Women), p. 141. All references made to Yoshimi, Jūgun Ianfu (Comfort Women), are translated by the author. 2 This term is used by McDougall in an investigation conducted on behalf of The United Nations Commission on Human Rights, see McDougall, Contemporary Forms of Slavery. 128

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