Monash University

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Framing the Korean 'comfort women' movement: domestic constraints and transnational alignments

posted on 2017-03-22, 01:44 authored by Roman, Mohita
My thesis is an attempt to understand the local-transnational dynamic of the Korean Comfort Women movement. Rather than understanding it simply as a single transnational movement as is commonly referred to in current scholarship on the movement, I intend to contribute to the literature on the issue by suggesting that there are two parallel movements on the issue in Korea - the national and the transnational - which are discordant in nature. For the Korean activists, researchers and feminist leaders advocating for the Comfort Women issue, the emergence of the human rights principles as a core value in the post Cold War period was significant. The movement has aligned itself with the global movement for the elimination of violence against women during armed conflict paradigm which has provided much of the theoretical framework for the transnational campaigning for the Comfort Women issue. This thesis draws on frame theory and Transnational Advocacy Network (TAN) theory to study how movement actors are actively engaged in the process of framing the Comfort Women issue to maximize mobilization of target audiences and the socio-cultural and political contextual constraints and. opportunities that influence this process and outcomes. At the transnational level, the Korean Comfort Women movement has been successful in 'framing' the movement within a human rights frame and has been successful in forming a 'transnational advocacy network' on the issue. The TAN presents a cohesive movement united by common values and discourse that share resources and information. It is argued that the cohesion displayed at the transnational level has been difficult to achieve in the domestic arena. Due to complex differential dynamics within the local actors, the domestic Korean Comfort Women movement is not united by a common 'frame' leading to a fragmented movement. This thesis argues that harmony between. the local and the transnational by means of a uniform master frame will ultimately lead to effective mobilization and resonance at the local and international level and put pressure for social and policy change at the government level.


Principal supervisor

Gloria Davies

Additional supervisor 1

Young A Cho

Additional supervisor 2

Beatrice Trefalt

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics


Doctor of Philosophy

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Faculty of Arts

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