Beyond the Shadow of Camptown

Korean Military Brides in America

283 pages

April, 2004

ISBN: 9780814796993

$27

Paper

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Author

Ji-Yeon Yuh is Assistant Professor of History at Northwestern University. Her work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Miami Herald, and the Baltimore Sun, as well as in major newspapers in Japan and Korea.

All books by Ji-Yeon Yuh

Since the beginning of the Korean War in 1950, nearly 100,000 Korean women have immigrated to the United States as the wives of American soldiers. Based on extensive oral interviews and archival research, Beyond the Shadow of the Camptowns tells the stories of these women, from their presumed association with U.S. military camptowns and prostitution to their struggles within the intercultural families they create in the United States.

Historian Ji-Yeon Yuh argues that military brides are a unique prism through which to view cultural and social contact between Korea and the U.S. After placing these women within the context of Korean-U.S. relations and the legacies of both Japanese and U.S. colonialism vis á vis military prostitution, Yuh goes on to explore their lives, their coping strategies with their new families, and their relationships with their Korean families and homeland. Topics range from the personal—the role of food in their lives—to the communal the efforts of military wives to form support groups that enable them to affirm Korean identity that both American and Koreans would deny them.

Relayed with warmth and compassion, this is the first in-depth study of Korean military brides, and is a groundbreaking contribution to Asian American, women's, and "new" immigrant studies, while also providing a unique approach to military history.

Reviews

  • “Where do marriage, diaspora, racism, and the politics of global alliances converge? In the dreams and dailiness of the thousands of Korean women living in the United States today. Ji-Yeon Yuh's engaging and revealing book shows us that by listening attentively to the Korean women married to white and black American men, we can become a lot smarter about the realities of globalized living.”

    —Cynthia Enloe, author of Maneuvers: the International Politics of Militarizing Women's Lives

  • “Sensitive and absorbing, Beyond the Shadow of Camptown probes a little-known but fascinating aspect of Asian-American history: the lives of nearly 100,000 Korean women who married American soldiers, and often live a silent, marginal existence in the United States. Professor Yuh gives eloquent voice to these women, linking their diaspora to a gripping and original account of the often appalling circumstances of American military occupation in Korea, while also locating many heartening stories of personal empowerment and triumph over the odds.”

    —Bruce Cumings, author of Korea's Place in the Sun

  • “Ji-Yeon Yuh uses a wealth of sources, especially moving oral histories, to tell an important, at times heartbreaking, story of Korean military brides. She takes us beyond the stereotypes and reveals their roles within their families, communities, and Korean immigration to the U.S. Without ignoring their difficult lives, Yuh portrays these women's agency and dignity with skill and compassion.”

    —K. Scott Wong, Williams College

  • “By studying the lives and history of Korean military brides,” Ji-Yeon Yuh pays tribute to an important group that has not received the understanding, attention, and respect that it deserves. Full of compelling stories, Beyond the Shadow of the Camptowns is sure to inspire new ways of thinking about U.S. and especially immigration history, as well as Asian American and Asian history.”

    —Elaine Kim, University of California at Berkeley

  • "Yuh has composed a complex, provocative, and compassionate portrayal of the experiences of Korean military brides from the 1950s through the 1990s. . . . Delving into how these women face isolation and alienation from both Korean and US societies because of their transnational status, Yuh's masterful history demonstrates that these women have resisted perceptions of both societies and forged communities based on their claiming Korean and US identities as Korean military brides. A wonderful resource... Highly recommended."

    Choice

  • "By studying the lives and history of Korean ‘military brides,’ Ji-Yeon Yuh pays tribute to an important group that has not received the understanding, attention, and respect that it deserves. Full of compelling stories, Beyond the Shadow of the Camptowns is sure to inspire new ways of thinking about U.S. and especially immigration history, as well as Asian American and Asian history."

    —Elaine Kim, University of California at Berkeley

  • "Beyond the Shadow of Camptown: Korean Military Brides in America, immigration historian Ji-Yeon Yuh explores how Korean women relate to American men in these cross-cultural relationships, and how the military link between the dominant U.S. and subservient Korea tends to complicate their marriages, already challenging for many other reasons, with a dose of international politics as well."

    Korean Quarterly