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Hearts of Pine: Songs in the Lives of Three Korean Survivors of the Japanese Comfort Women [Paperback]

Joshua D. Pilzer

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Book Description

Feb. 14 2012
In the wake of the Asia-Pacific War, Korean survivors of the "comfort women" system-those bound into sexual slavery for the Japanese military during the war-lived under great pressure not to speak about what had happened to them. Hearts of Pine brings us into the lives of three such survivors: Pak Duri, Mun Pilgi, and Bae Chunhui. Over the course of eight years, author Joshua Pilzer worked with these now-elderly women, smoking with them, eating with them, singing and playing with them, trying to understand and document their worlds of song. During four decades of secrecy and the subsequent decades of the "comfort women" protest movement, singing served these women as a means of coping with and expressing their experiences, forging and sustaining identities and social relationships, and recording and conveying their struggles and philosophies of life. Through these intimate portraits,

Hearts of Pine illustrates the personal and social power of music vis-a-vis other expressive media, models a humanistic history of modern Korean music, and presents heretofore unrecorded histories of the "comfort women" system and postwar South Korean public culture written in women's song.

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"A young white man, an American, finds a way to enter the hearts of old Korean women through song. Unlikely friends, they are united through the women's music, soulful with sorrow and yearning for lives and loves taken away, yet hopeful for a better world. This is deeply sensitive writing with an understanding of Koreans' songs and the women who sing them." --Dai Sil Kim-Gibson, director, Silence Broken: Korean Comfort Women


"Josh Pilzer is a hugely talented young scholar, and his fascinating and highly original book sheds an entirely new light on the execrable violation of women's human rights under Japanese colonialism in Korea, and the extraordinary perseverance, humanity and ultimate triumph of the abused survivors." --Bruce Cumings, University of Chicago


"Pilzer models what it means to listen deeply. His close focus on three women's sung constructions of subjectivity allows the reader to hear not only anger and suffering but also joy, hope, and undeniable presence. Their voices rang in my ears for days. This book pulled me in-in all the ways that matter." --Deborah Wong, University of California, Riverside


"[R]etracing the evolving history of many of these songs, Pilzer emerges as a scholar who is both authoritative and inviting. Hearts of Pine provides accessible and engaging coverage of several musical traditions that have persisted in a rapidly changing Korean society." --Women & Music


"A richly satisfying and evocatively written narrative for non-specialists as well as an original contribution to ethnomusicological research." --Ethnomusicology


About the Author

Joshua D. Pilzer is Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology in the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto.

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