Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Korean is not touching this topic with a 10-foot stick -- he is only going to carefully place this link to the recent New York Times article here, and back away slowly.

Ex-Prostitutes Say South Korea and U.S. Enabled Sex Trade Near Bases


  1. Nora Okja Keller, in her novel FOX GIRL, talks about this. I expect we'll see the same complaints from the current war in enough time, especially since we're buying men Viagra in exchange for information.

    Little Blue Pills Among the Ways CIA Wins Friends in Afghanistan:

  2. All right, I'll poke the sleeping bear..

    While I personally think that prostitution, along with other widely practiced activities which are usually illegal, should be decriminalized and subject to regulation like any other business (hopefully increasing the acceptance and quality of life of those who choose to practice such a profession while simultaneously reducing the ability of brothel owners to enslave and import unwilling prostitutes whose families may even have bartered them away), the biggest surprise I felt while reading this article is that anyone's surprised about this business. I live in a relatively normal city just outside of Seoul with no military presence whatsoever, in a normal neighborhood with churches, parks, galbi joints, and schools, and there are plenty of anmas within walking distance. The neon signs are huge and illuminate shortly before nightfall, some of these establishments being perhaps 7 stories or more. This is no red light district, no 'window' prostitutes, it's a normal neighborhood. My Korean coworkers know full well what sort of 'massage' one might expect in these establishments, and even if I myself was new to Korea and suspected that all these rumors about massage parlors were simply that, rumor, I would only have to do a cursory internet search to find websites detailing the different sorts of services one can find and where to look for them, including reviews of establishment types (amna girls are seemingly rated as being more generally attractive than 'barber shop' girls according to one poster). So I'm surprised that anyone's surprised. Prostitution is likewise popular around military establishments regardless of the country. Two friends of mine were visiting Dubai, where one of them is born (his citizenship is British) and grew up, and even there, in the heart of the Islamic Middle East, prostitutes were readily available to anyone who cared to look.

    And while prostitution might be generally ignored as something which is real here, I wonder if there's any chance it will get more attention as people address (hopefully) the apparent disparity in the recent conviction of Ok So-ri (8 months, suspended sentence last I read) when indeed prostitution is so common and accepted, even encouraged, among businessmen. Among my older Korean male friends, I've heard stories, and they don't tell them as though they were tall tales. I'm inclined to believe them, just as I'm inclined to believe the Western businessmen I've known who have done business in Seoul in that they too recount drinking meetings accompanied by girls which included sexual services.

    And while I've also read that the adultery lawn was initially designed to protect women from unfaithful husbands, is it not ironic and strange how things have come about since its inception (the exact date of which I'm not sure, but it isn't a recent law).

    I guess it's just a very curious double standard.

    (Is the bear still sleeping? I'm finished poking at it.)

  3. I'm going to go ahead and tack a date on the adultery law: 1953.

    This article is indeed increasingly interesting when considering that professional prostitutes are complaining that the increased vigilance against brothels (amnas, whatever name suits) is hurting their livelihood and as a result is ruining their ability to make a living. I wonder if they are speaking for themselves or for the mama-san. (I don't know what the Korean equivalent of 'madam' is.)


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