This article examines the global and social processes that turned subsidized US war supplies into South Korean black market commodities during the Korean War. The widespread circulation of army supplies to the local black market has been often considered a natural result of the scarcity in the occupied country. Counter to this conventional account, I show how sexual transactions between Korean women and American GIs served as a crucial medium in the circulation process. I conceptualize army supplies as a quasi currency whose exchange value was realized on the black market through the commodification of women’s bodies and sexuality. This article situates the black market in wartime Korea at the intersection of close encounters between local women and American GIs, the political economy of sexuality, and a global history of war, base, and empire.

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