New Republic published a staggering piece this week about the “Monkey House” near Camp Casey, South Korea. It seems that Syngman Rhee’s fascist regime and the US military said, “why spoil a good thing?” perpetrated the same crimes as the Imperial Japanese military: the organized forcible rape and captivity of South Korean women. And it started in the 1950s, continuing until 1991, several years after South Korea had become a democracy.
The item begins (most original links preserved):
Locals call it the Monkey House. The decaying, three-story cement fortress sits among weeds in the wooded, hilly outskirts of Dongducheon, a Korean city of 96,000 that encircles Camp Casey, the closest U.S. military base to North Korea and home to key elements of the U.S. Army’s 2nd Infantry Division. The 2ID is “the only forward-based Army division integrated with Allied troops” in Korea, President Trump proudly declared to U.S. service members after his highly publicized crossing of the DMZ on June 30 to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
For those who live in Dongducheon, however, the base and surrounding town hold a mixed and painful legacy. Between the end of the Korean War and the early 1990s, more than one million Korean women were caught up in a state-controlled prostitution industry that was blessed at the highest levels by the U.S. military. They worked in special zones surrounding U.S. bases—areas licensed by the South Korean government, reserved exclusively for American troops, and monitored and policed by the U.S. Army. These camp towns were known to the Koreans as kichijong.
The system was designed to strengthen the U.S.-South Korean alliance, which was formalized in a 1954 Mutual Defense Treaty; its less formal mission was to boost morale for the thousands of U.S. military personnel stationed on the peninsula after the Korean War. It was the same for South Korea, where prostitution was encouraged as a woman’s patriotic duty to the state. Dongducheon, with some 7,000 registered prostitutes at its height, was the largest of the kichijong, and the strip of camp towns stretching from the DMZ down to Seoul was known as “GI Heaven.” For the Korean women in the camp towns, though, it was hell.
No matter how aware you are or try to be about such crimes, there always seems to be a new level of depravity uncovered.