Th e Party’s Over Sex, Gender, and Orientalism in the Koreagate Scandal of the 1970s Shelley Sang- Hee Lee “Korean Agent or Merely a Hostess?” read a 1977 New York Times headline about Suzi Park Th omson, the Korea- born congressional aide ensnared in the “Koreagate” scandal of 1976– 78. Involving charges of bribery “in a coordinated campaign conducted by a Korean lobby with shadowy links to [President Park Chung Hee’s] government,” Koreagate, described another paper, “had all the elements for drama”: a foreign ally using cash from tax- supported US rice sales to infl uence Congress; an “Oriental Gatsby” known for his “fancy Georgetown parties”; a “sexy aide” to the House speaker; and corrupt congressmen accepting gift s and favors. Th omson— the “sexy aide”— was implicated for purportedly using her “culinary talents . . . to ingratiate [herself] with American legislators.” As the Times continued, “Th ere are those who believe that she is a sort of latter- day Mata Hari. Others see her more as a sort of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, skipping innocently through the corridors of power.” Now little more than a footnote in the history US- Korea relations, Koreagate has been overlooked for
Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Oct 23, 2018
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