[KS] Riding the White Horse
jsburgeson at yahoo.com
Thu Jan 30 23:58:01 EST 2003
I have a question on trying to track down the
etymology of the Korean term "baekma t'ada" or "to
ride the white horse," which is a popular (South)
Korean euphemism for a Korean man having sex with a
white woman in contemporary usage.
According to the essay "'Comfort Women' in the
Dutch East Indies" by Yuki Tanaka (appears in
"Legacies of the Comfort Women of WWII, eds. M. Stez
and B. Oh, 2001), during WWII a well-known Japanese
writer, Oya Soichi, set up two "prostitution clubs" in
Batavia called the "White Horse Riding Club" and the
"Black Horse Riding Club," the former using Dutch and
Eurasian women and the latter using Indonesian women.
Oya Soichi had arrived there as a propagandist with
the first Japanese army contingent to the Dutch East
Indies, and although at first the customers were
upper-level Japanese bureaucrats and businessmen, when
the J. officers at army headquarters found out about
it (they actually thought they were real "horse-riding
clubs" for a long time), many of the officers joined
as well. It's not clear from the text if the Dutch
women as this particular club were obtained
consensually or not, or if they were compensated or
not, although bona fide Dutch comfort women did exist
in other locations at the time.
My question is can anyone recommend any good
sources to trace whether the current Korean usage of
the expression "to ride the white horse" derives from
this Japanese source, or did it evolve independently
somehow? I would also like to find the first recorded
usage of the term in the Korean language. Any
reseachers out there recall seeing it in sources prior
to WWII and the club identified above, either in
Korean or Japanese?
Given Korea's tragic history of providing so many
comfort women to the Japanese during WWII, it would be
ironic indeed if a term that many Korean men use today
derives from a term that Japanese may have used to
refer to certain white comfort women during WWII. And
even if that statement is unveriable, referring to any
white woman in Korea today by a term that may have its
origins as a term used to refer to white prostitutes
is not as "innocent-sounding" as it may appear at
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