The Korean War (1950–53) changed the material and affective landscape of the Korean peninsula and ushered in a new era ruled by a military dictatorship dependent on US military power. With bases dotting the South Korean peninsula, former agricultural villages became camptowns that catered to the needs of American soldiers. This article focuses on the South Korean melodrama Chiokhwa (Hellflower, 1958), directed by Shin Sang-ok, which narrates a love triangle between two brothers and Sonya, a camptown prostitute or yanggongju. It examines the role of the postwar environment in constructing the spaces of the subject. Using the yanggongju figure as a technology of postwar memory, this work reevaluates the ecology of ruination left in the wake of the Korean War—as portrayed through Sonya, scenes of the city, the camptown, the base, and the surrounding fields and marshes—to explore the sense of loss and displacement of this period.

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