Back to Annual Meeting Page
American Public Health Association
133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition
December 10-14, 2005
Philadelphia, PA
APHA 2005
3138.0: Monday, December 12, 2005 - 10:50 AM

Abstract #115752

Korean sex slaves and no. 606 injections during the Pacific War

Sel J. Wahng, PhD, Medical and Health Research Association of New York City, Inc., National Development and Research Institutes, Inc., 71 West 23rd St., 8th Floor, New York, NY 10010, 718-974-8167, wahng@ndri.org

Korean sex slaves (also known as comfort women) were forced to sexually serve the Japanese Imperial Army during the Pacific War (1937-1945). Approximately 200,000 Korean females (adolescent and teenage virgins) were abducted through deceit or force, and raped from 30–60 times/day on a daily basis. Depending on when they were abducted, their enslavement ranged from a few months to several years. Korean sex slaves were also forcibly injected on a weekly basis with a chemical called “No. 606,” which was an arsphenamine/Salvarsan compound. The Japanese military saw this chemical as having multiple effects—to cure venereal disease, prevent pregnancy, induce abortion, and cause sterilization. Through qualitative and textual analyses of fifty transcripts of interviews with sex slaves, it will be shown that these injections were given frequently and that the injections correlated with specific physiological effects including loss of appetite and the vaginal discharge of blood. Because of the sterilization effects, the rapes of these women differ from rapes in other wartime contexts. In addition to being subjected to No. 606 injections, Korean sex slaves were regarded by the Japanese military as “bastards,” “sanitary toilets,” and subhuman “Amazons” with superhuman strength, were sometimes forced to wear men's military clothing, and were dispersed to military stations in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. After the war, sex slave survivors often lived alone and in poverty. They were unable to marry or bear children, lived in shame, and were ostracized from living with their families and relatives.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Asian and Pacific Islander Women, Sex Workers

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

I wish to disclose that I have NO financial interests or other relationship with the manufactures of commercial products, suppliers of commercial services or commercial supporters.

Sex Workers: Voluntary and Forced

The 133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition (December 10-14, 2005) of APHA