Hearts of Pine Songs in the Lives of Three Korean Survivors of the Japanese Comfort Women

ISBN-10: 019975957X

ISBN-13: 9780199759576

Edition: 2011

Authors: Joshua D. Pilzer

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In the wake of the wartime experience of sexual slavery for the Japanese military during the Asia-Pacific War (1930-45), Korean survivors of this "comfort women" system lived under great pressure not to speak about what had happened to them. This book brings us into the lives of three survivors: Pak Duri, Mun Pilgi, and Bae Chunhui. Over the course of seven years, author Joshua Pilzer worked with these now-elderly women, living alongside of them, smoking with them, eating with them, singing and playing with them, documenting and trying to understand their worlds of song. Hearts of Pinefocuses on the selves and social lives that these three women cultivated through song. During four decades of post-war public secrecy about the comfort women system, song served for these women as both a private and a public means of coping with their trauma-each used song in a different way to reckon with their experiences and to forge a new sense of self. In the 1990s a nationalist movement arose in South Korea to seek redress from the Japanese government and to tend to the previously-shunned comfort women survivors in their old age. Suddenly these women, and many others like them, found themselves pulled from the margins of society and thrust into the very center of the public cultural spotlight. Appearing on television and radio as well as at political events and protest rallies, the "comfort women grandmothers" collectively functioned as an emblem of the horrors Japan inflicted on long "enslaved" Korea--a Korea that had now overcome Japanese domination. But while the women were to stand forward as symbols of Korea's triumph over metaphorical enslavement, they were largely swallowed up by an archetypal, faceless "comfort woman victim" in the public cultural imaginary. Yet in the face of the selective interests and forces of the public cultural imagination, and directly into the media spotlights of South Korean public culture itself, all three of these women continued to use song as a means of expressing the particularity of their experiences publicly. Hearts of Pine paints intimate and tenderly crafted portraits of three off-beat old women in a South Korean old age home, who made routine appearances on national television and radio. In so doing, this book addresses basic questions about the power of music vis-à-vis other forms of social expression, illuminates the history of Korean music in the twentieth century, and tells a new history of the "comfort women" system and postwar South Korean public culture.
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Book details

List price: $30.95
Copyright year: 2011
Publisher: Oxford University Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 2/10/2012
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 240
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.25" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.638
Language: English

A Note on Transliteration
About the Companion Website
Pak Duri
Mun Pilgi
Bae Chunhui
Appendix: Pak Duri's Testimony
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