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Power and Primacy

A History of Western Intervention in the Asia-Pacific

A.B. Abrams

Today the Asia-Pacific region stands on the verge of major change, with centuries of western dominated regional order being seriously challenged and quite possibly nearing its end. The emergence of a potential new order dominated by regional rather than extra-regional powers - an «Asia for the Asiatics» in the words of Japan’s pan-Asian scholars - means it is now more than ever essential to understand the history of the current western-dominated system, the full implications should it continue and the nature of the West’s intentions towards the region.

This book undertakes the task of elucidating the complex and little-known history of western intervention in the Asia-Pacific, providing information critical to understanding contemporary developments

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Chapter 11: The U.S. Military in South Korea: Comfort Women and Destitution

Extract

Chapter 11

The U.S. Military in South Korea: Comfort Women and Destitution

If someone called attention to the ceaseless orgy, all the usual bromine pour forth to drown out the faint cries of peasant girls yanked off a train in Seoul and thrown into a brothel, a thousand little justifications for the abasement of a thousand little girls at American hands … the social construction of every Korea female as a potential object of pleasure for Americans. It is the most important aspect of the whole relationship and the primary memory of Korea for generations of young American men who have served there.1

— Bruce Cumings

The Western Role in Determining the Future of Governance in South Korea and Korean Independence

In 1882 the United States and the ruling Choson dynasty of Korea signed the Shufeldt Treaty, the first article of which stipulated that should either nation be subjected to ‘unjust or oppressive’ treatment by a third party the other would intervene on its behalf. The British Empire signed a similar treaty the following year, the United Kingdom-Korea Treaty. By the late 1890s Japan made no secret of its plans to incorporate Korea into its growing empire, part of its effort to become a ‘civilized nation’ and imperial power with overseas colonies following the European example. King Kojong, the last Korean king, sent emissaries to Washington in 1896 and 1905 requesting American assistance to ensure Korea’s independence, which under the US-Korea treaty...

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