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MOOSIE MAIDS

There was another group of girls in Seoul, who for reasons never adequately
explained and to me unfathomable, were called Moosie-Maids. A Moosie-Maid was
a steady girl, certainly not a prostitute and just as certainly not a Seikses. A
Moosie-Maid –whether her soldier was asked nothing except companionship and
loyalty.
Few of these liaisons resulted in marriage. For one thing, a soldier’s billet in Seoul
was unsubstantial and impermanent, unlike duty in Japan. Always he was
counting the points until he could go home, and always there was a chance his
unit would be sent to the front or of his transfer to another sector. Besides, most
Moosie-Maids were widows who were not legally widows, for their husbands had
vanished in the north.
The Moosie-Maids, like all Korean girls, were straight and sturdily constructed,
taller than most Orientals, and some were beautiful by any standards.
While her man remained in Korea, a Moosie-Maid demanded absolute fidelity. I
heard of men receiving wounds as grave as and more embarrassing than most
received in battle, because of infidelity to a Moosie-Maid.
You could usually tell a Moosie –Maid because she wore American sweaters and
skirts. That was her uniform, just as the hair gathered in a single glistening
straight braid down the back, in the manner of a school girl, was the uniform of
the Seikses. The dress of urban Korea is changing, because of the Post Office
Department, Sears Roebuck, and Montgomery Ward.
As a matter of fact, the Sears Roebuck catalogue was the most widely circulated
English language publication in Korea.
When a soldier was wooing a Moosie-Maid, he would borrow the catalogue from
the company clerk and tie himself to his girl’s house, and they would spend hours
deciding whether she would look best in Sweater VT-2385, or VT-2387. A steady
stream of postal money orders flowed to the mail-order houses stateside and a
steady river of packaged durable goods poured back. Perhaps the sweaters and
skirts would look plain, or even rustic, on Fifth Avenue, but on Sejong-no Avenue,
Seoul, they were high fashion.
And if a soldier was truly enamored of a Moosie-Maid (or perhaps because of
generosity and pity) he might order a small stove for Mama-san or a warm coat for
Papa-san.