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Framed by WarKorean Children and Women at the Crossroads of US Empire$
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Susie Woo

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781479889914

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479889914.001.0001

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GIs and the Kids of Korea

GIs and the Kids of Korea

(p.33) 1 GIs and the Kids of Korea
Framed by War

Susie Woo

NYU Press

This chapter centers upon the US military in Korea between 1945 and 1953. While Koreans experienced war violence firsthand, American and international audiences grew increasingly aware of and concerned about the devastation wrought by the US military as the war raged on. It was in this context that US military officials actively paired US servicemen with Korean orphans to help narrate the unpopular war. This chapter demonstrates how the American soldier was transformed from the bringer of bombs to the rescuer of children. Using US military records, army chaplain logs, Department of Defense raw footage, newsreels, photographs from popular US magazines, as well as US and Korean newspapers, this chapter traces how violent soldiers were transformed into caring fathers. Mandated by the US military and perpetuated through media, these relationships helped to recoup the losses of war and deflect international accusations of US imperialism, while drawing Americans together with Koreans in intimate ways. The chapter closes with a look at the symbolic purposes of these actions, goals made clear by military officials who blocked Korean houseboys from living in the barracks and stopped servicemen from formally adopting Korean children, intimacies that exceeded the intentions of these rescue narratives.

Keywords:   Korean War, US militarization, US imperialism, cultural politics, mascots, orphans, houseboys, military adoption

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