The US media’s coverage of the comfort women issue has primarily focused on three main aspects: human rights, nationalist conflict, and security. First, American newspapers and magazines asked the Japanese government to apologize to the former comfort women by revealing the misery of their lives through a discussion of human rights. However, that discussion not only reflected the East-West power imbalance, but even served to promote voyeurism and sexual fantasies. Second, following the end of the Cold War, as tensions between South Korea and Japan over the issue have escalated, US media have increasingly taken a position as middleman, indifferent to the history of these women. The US media have scolded both South Korea and Japan for their nationalistic conflict. Third, the US media began to employ a security discourse on the comfort women issue as the controversy between South Korea and Japan deteriorated to a level that threatened the interests of the United States in East Asia and disrupted the Obama administration’s “Pivot to Asia” strategy. US media have played the role of midwife for the birth of the 2015 South Korea-Japan Comfort Women Agreement by shaping and disseminating a security discourse.
Herein I analyze how the French media understand and analyze the comfort women issue. To this end, I review related articles from four major French dailies and three French weekly magazines published between 1990 and 2019. The French press, whether on the right or left, recognize that the Korean comfort women victims, and the civil movements supporting those victims, have contributed to strengthening women’s human rights at the global level. They argue that Japan, where historical revisionism prevails, has not faced the truth on this issue. The French leftist press further criticizes the United States for failing to condemn properly Japan’s war crimes at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal under the pretext of the Cold War. One French journalist predicted that the future of a democratic and pacifist Japan depended on the sincere resolution of the comfort women issue. The public testimony of comfort women in the early 1990s may be likened to the tiny flapping of a butterfly’s wings. The nearly thirty years since this testimony has seen a great butterfly effect, including criticism of the politicization of history in order to conceal or beautify past mistakes, the reinforcement of human rights, and the prospect of advancing democracy.
This study investigates how the German-speaking media published in Central Europe have dealt with the Japanese Military comfort women issue. Germany is regarded by the East Asians to have better reflected on their atrocities during the Wars than Japan. The forced prostitution in Nazi Germany, however, has been silenced for decades just as that in Japan. In this comparison, my purpose in this study is to investigate how the German public understands the comfort women through media coverage. The findings are as follows. First, the German media understand the issue primarily as part of East Asian international relations. On the basis of consciousness of responsibility through their own historical experiences, they recommend the German model of historical reconciliation for East-Asian peacebuilding. Second, Germany’s memory culture on its tragic past is limited to Nazi genocide, but remains largely unaware of the historical atrocities of the German Empire. They are also oblivious to past sexual crimes of the Nazi regime. Finally, the memory of comfort women through the installation of the Statue of Peace in Germany is not connected with, nor does it promote, reflections on their own past, at least not to the German public. On the other hand, the installation of this statue outside South Korean territory is a test for the (im)possibility of global solidarity through victim memories.
This study analyzes the perspectives of the British media on the comfort women issue. To this end, I review six daily newspapers and two weekly magazines covering the thirty years from 1990 to 2019. The perspectives of British media on the comfort women can be seen as multilateral and selective. The release of articles in the early 1990s began with articles about the sexual violence during the Yugoslav War and compensation issues surrounding British war prisoners in the Pacific War. The news features released in the 2000s and 2010s are characterized by level and cool-headed viewpoints of the third person. Accordingly, they criticize the antagonistic and nationalistic nature of KoreaJapan relations and take contrasting attitudes toward the comfort women issue as distinct from issues concerning their past mutual history. British media insist that Britain should contribute to universal human rights by criticizing the unblushing Japanese government for neglecting financial compensation to the comfort women. However, the attitudes of the British media seem to hesitate between that of guardian of human rights and bystander. An ethics embracing multidirectional memories, wherein selective viewpoints are excluded, is thus needed.
Drawing attention to the geopolitical significance of the Korean Peninsula, many scholars have defined Korean unification as a critical condition for promoting East Asian community-building. During the 1990s, members of the Changbi Group, most notably Paik Nak-chung, Choi Won-shik, and Baik Young-Seo, proposed the idea that Korean unification plays such an important role, following Paik’s proposal of the Division System Theory. The East Asia Theory espoused by these scholars provides an opportunity to rethink contemporary Korean reality from the perspectives of both an individual state and the context of East Asia as a region. Despite the significance of these intellectual discussions, academia still awaits a detailed study of the analytic/ conceptual strengths and limitations of the East Asia Theory as a whole. Another point of contention that may be raised with previous research on the East Asia Theory is the lack of attention given to the theory’s practical implications. To fill this lacuna, this article offers a theoretical examination of the Changbi Group’s East Asia Theory, with a focus on its practical implications. Finally, this study looks into the limitations of the East Asia Theory and suggests a possible reformulation of it.
This paper investigates North Korean patriotism. It seeks to establish whether a state that has overwhelmingly failed to provide basic public goods can nevertheless produce and sustain the devotion and support of some or all of the population— in other words, arouse patriotic sentiment—and if so, on what terms. The paper approaches the topic using a modified version of the International Social Survey Programme’s national identity survey, specifically those questions that deal with national pride. Using survey findings and selected follow-up interviews, we examine the presence or absence of patriotic sentiment among more than 650 former residents of North Korea. The paper also takes a comparative approach, comparing North Korean patriotism findings with those from former socialist countries to determine whether any patterns exist. We find evidence that, despite enormous state failures, the North Korean state has managed to generate a sense of patriotism and accomplishment for selected components of its state and society, notably in the cultural sphere (e.g., arts and sports). Data from other former socialist states produce similar findings.
As the communist half of a divided nation, North Korea shared something in common with East Germany in terms of how it sought to portray itself as the true successor to the national heritage. It did this by appropriating music of the past and portraying the socialist state as its guardian and benefactor. This practice was very much in accordance with the transnational principles of socialist realism, which for music included incorporating elements of folk tradition to make socialist ideology meaningful to the broadest base possible. A look at what is referred to here as “socialist folk music” in North Korea and East Germany reveals that despite their similar origin, the finished project could look and sound quite differently. East German socialist folk music involved bringing the German classical tradition down to the popular level (either at factories and farms or concert halls for mass audiences) where it could coexist with contemporary socialist realist works the Party was trying to promote. North Korean socialist folk music, on the other hand, largely involved bringing and transforming both indigenous instruments and local music genres upward to concert halls where they could align with Western scales and instrumentation. Even as folk music was a rallying cry for collective unity, it also became a source of tension as musicians and the Party clashed over who should administer it and how it should sound.
This paper explores the cinematic representations of the Gwangju massacre in three films: A Petal (1996), Peppermint Candy (2000), and May 18 (2007). Drawing on Freud’s distinction between mourning and melancholia, this paper examines and compares the different ways of commemorating the massacre in these films and the kinds of political and ethical implications produced by their different forms of commemoration. Since the mid-1990s, national mourning for the Gwangju massacre has played a pivotal role in reconciling past antagonisms and legitimizing the hegemony of liberal democracy. As the sacred origin of the pro-democracy movement, the memory of Gwangju has been appropriated to construct a linear, teleological narrative of national development that represents the present as the culmination of nationaldemocratic progress. In exploring in detail how the three films depict the massacre, this paper illuminates how the representations of Gwangju in these films reflect and correspond to the post-traumatic nation-building process in post-authoritarian South Korea, which can be encapsulated as a shift from melancholia to mourning for its traumatic past. In so doing, this paper raises the question of what constitutes an ethico-political way of commemorating historical trauma.
This paper examines the achievements and limitations of studies conducted in commemoration of the 2019 centennial anniversary of the March First Independence Movement and presents prospects for the direction of future research. On the occasion of the centennial, there was the establishment of data, including the March First Movement Database, and the excavation of new materials. The view that the Movement created crucial momentum for the transition from monarchy to republic was strengthened, a momentum that ultimately lead to the diffusion of the orientation toward democracy. Additionally, the argument to designate the Movement the March First Revolution was raised in several strands. Local uprisings were scrutinized; new actors in the Movement were attended to, such as the March First generation, women, and individual participants; and activities which took place at the sites associated with the Movement were examined more closely. However, the Movement has yet to be studied from a transnational perspective, and the complex web of contemporaneous conditions must be looked at from the new angle of the multitude. Further, instead of politicizing history, it is necessary to undertake studies examining the actual lives of the people.