Literature / Comfort Woman
A novel by Nora Okja Keller, published in 1998. The story of the Korean Akiko (not her real name), who is sold as a "comfort woman"
to the occupying Japanese army by her older sister. She escapes the camp and finds shelter at a Christian mission, where a clergyman marries her and takes her with him to the USA. Intertwined with hers is the story of her daughter Beccah, growing up in Hawaii with her sad, troubled mother and eventually learning her story.
Comfort Woman provides examples of these tropes:
- Bilingual Bonus: In-universe. Akiko sees her daughter's name Beccah, not as an abbreviation of Rebeccah, but as Bek-Hap, "White Lily" in Korean.
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Happens to Beccah when she sneaks out to go on a school beach trip without her mother's permission. She gets a piece of coral lodged in her foot and gets a bad infection, leading to Akiko finding out about the trip and grounding her for a year.
- Due to the Dead: A variant. The novel ends with Beccah making the decision to honour her dead mother's background by giving her a Korean funeral instead of an American one.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: Akiko has a severe one once she's in safety at the mission.
- Homoerotic Dream: After getting married and moving to the USA, Akiko has one about Induk. Interesting in that there is no other hint in the story of Akiko being attracted to women: the dream may reflect her great admiration for Induk.
- My Beloved Smother: Akiko to Beccah, quite understandably considering what she's gone through.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: A dark variant. "Akiko" isn't her real name, nor is it Korean; it is what she was named in the camp. Only at the end of the novel do we find out her real name, Soon Hyo.
- Sex Slave: Akiko was forced to serve as an ianfu ("comfort woman"), made to sexually service the troops during Japan's occupation of Korea in World War II.
- Unreliable Narrator: Beccah herself realises that it's possible that she exaggerated the bullying she endured in school.
- World War II: When Akiko's part of the story takes place.