On March 13, 66 women’s organizations of South Korea sent a press release demanding for North and South Korean governments and the U.S. government to “make a bold political decision to prevent war and settle peace.” After the rapid succession of events that occurred on the Korean peninsula last week, their demand is quite timely.
On March 29, North Korea prepared its missile units to attack U.S. military bases in South Korea and the Pacific, after the U.S. flew two nuclear-capable stealth bombers over the Korean peninsula during a practice sortie last Thursday, March 28.
As tensions escalate, the women of South Korea are showing a deep concern for the war crisis. The press release, which included organizations such as: the Kyonggi Independence Women’s Solidarity, Daegu-Kyungbuk Women’s Association United, and Seoul Women’s Association, addressed North Korea’s rocket launch last December, the cycle of sanctions and armed conflicts, and, most notably, North Korea’s threat to hold a nuclear strike after South Korea and the U.S. conducted Key Resolve. The women’s urgent call also marked the 60-year-anniversary of the signing of the Korean War Armistice treaty, a significant detail in the women of South Korea’s campaign for peace.
In times of war, women are more likely to be sexually brutalized. From the 1960s to 1980s, years after the Korean War, the South Korean government was accused of enabling the prostitution of South Korean women to U.S. soldiers, as a method of insured protection against North Korea. War fosters a setting of militarism and violence, where women are subjected to sexual violence and economic disadvantage even years after the war ends.
With the history of rape and sexual violence that occurred during World War II and the Korean War, the women of South Korea are well aware of war’s misogynist nature. The press release states, “We remember the tears and deep sorrow from death, separation, hunger and sexual violence upon women.” As the women of South Korea campaign for peace on the Korean peninsula, the protection of women’s mobility and sexual rights is also avowed.