Even as Seoul railed against Japan's WWII-era enslavement of "comfort women," it systematically pimped Korean women to US soldiers stationed there for decades after the Korean War, say a group of former prostitutes. Working with the US military, the South Korean government encouraged a thriving sex trade—giving English and etiquette classes to would-be women of the night, and praising them as "dollar-earning patriots" securing vital foreign cash for the country's economy.
The ex-prostitutes, now shunned by mainstream society and largely destitute, say American and Korean troops regularly rounded up women suspected of carrying STDs and imprisoned them while they were medicated. Scholars say records back up many of the women's accusations and believe the government was motivated out of fear the American military might leave. "I think women like me were the biggest sacrifice for my country’s alliance with the Americans,” says one ex-prostitute.