The Korean National Council of Women, a women’s organization established in 1959, has received criticism in Korean literature for its collaboration with the authoritarian regimes that ruled South Korea for decades. This article, however, argues for a different kind of interpretation. The Korean National Council of Women came together to join the International Council of Women, a major international women’s organization that was looking for new affiliations in the recently decolonized parts of Asia and Africa in the midst of Cold War competition. Thus, we should view the existence of the Korean National Council of Women in the framework of transnational women’s activism and how the Cold War shaped it. After outlining the connections made between South Korean women and the International Council of Women, the article analyzes the projects proposed by the Korean National Council of Women under the anti-communist authoritarian regime. Based on archival research in South Korea and Belgium, this article argues that instead of following rules from above, the Korean National Council of Women negotiated a way to combine the advancement of women’s issues with the development of the nation. The International Council of Women, while criticizing communist women for their close relationship with the state, celebrated the achievements its South Korean affiliate made as a state-registered organization.

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