cover of book

Service Economies: Militarism, Sex Work, and Migrant Labor in South Korea
by Jin-kyung Lee
University of Minnesota Press, 2010
Cloth: 978-0-8166-5125-2 | Paper: 978-0-8166-5126-9
Library of Congress Classification HD9987.K62L43 2010
Dewey Decimal Classification 363.44095195

Service Economies presents an alternative narrative of South Korean modernity by examining how working-class labor occupies a central space in linking the United States and Asia to South Korea's changing global position from a U.S. neocolony to a subempire.

Making surprising and revelatory connections, Jin-kyung Lee analyzes South Korean military labor in the Vietnam War, domestic female sex workers, South Korean prostitution for U.S. troops, and immigrant/migrant labor from Asia in contemporary South Korea. Foregrounding gender, sexuality, and race, Lee reimagines the South Korean economic "miracle" as a global and regional articulation of industrial, military, and sexual proletarianization.

Lee not only addresses these under-studied labors individually but also integrates and unites them to reveal an alternative narrative of a changing South Korean working class whose heterogeneity is manifested in its objectification. Delving into literary and popular cultural sources as well as sociological work, Lee locates South Korean development in its military and economic interactions with the United States and other Asian nation-states, offering a unique perspective on how these practices have shaped and impacted U.S.-South Korea relations.
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