After Korean War, brothels and an alliance

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South Korea has railed for years against the Japanese government's waffling over how much responsibility it bears for one of the ugliest chapters in its wartime history: the enslavement of women from Korea and elsewhere to work in brothels serving the Japanese Imperial Army.

Now, several former prostitutes in South Korea have accused their country's former leaders of a different kind of abuse: encouraging them to have sex with the U.S. soldiers who protected South Korea from North Korea. They also accuse past South Korean governments and the U.S. military of taking a direct hand in the sex trade, working together to build a testing and treatment system to ensure that prostitutes were disease-free for the U.S. troops.

Although the women have made no claims that they were coerced into prostitution by South Korean or U.S. officials, they accuse successive Korean governments of deep hypocrisy in calling for reparations from Japan while refusing to take a hard look at South Korea's own history.

Scholars on the issue say that the South Korean government was motivated in part by fears that the U.S. military would leave, and that it wanted to do whatever it could to prevent that.

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