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Friday, October 15, 2004

Prostitution, clients, economy

The weekly Hankyoreh21 takes part in the presently heated discussion on the re-illegalization of the already illegal but tolerated (and in some instances encouraged) prostitution. (Robert Koehler at Marmot's Hole has a detailed post on the matter.) The magazine arranged a discussion between a representative of the organization of pimps ("entertainment establishment proprietors"), a prostitute, a representative of a women's organization, and a woman lawmaker. The two former are on the defense for prostitution and the two latter against, to put broadly. The prostitute gives a following description of the clientele in her defense for the need of these services:
Kim Mun-hee: There are big differences between the men who use the services. Men who go to the room salons are mainly from sa-professions(*) or have private businesses. And company people also come to entertain clients. On the other hand, it's mostly the not-well-off who go to brothel quarters (chipch'angch'on 집창촌). They are from their 20s to 50s, 60s. There are also elders who bring their erection devices with them. And handicapped people, in wheelchair, blind... Some walking with crutches clad in hospital clothes. There are also monks and priests. And many married men. The reason why married men come is that they want to try something new but think they can't try it with their wives. And some come to relieve the stress they get from company work in a pervert (pyônt'ae) manner.

brothels in Sillim-dongPhoto: Brothels in Sillim-dong, close to the Sillim subway station on the side of the Dorim-cheon. (c) AL 2000

(*) Sa-professions are the professional occupations which have the syllable sa (士 or 師) in the end, like ûisa (doctor 醫師) and pyônhosa (lawyer 辯護士).

• There's an adjoining story: The Participants in the Brothel Area Economy (registration needed); 2-3 "madams" in each establishment, touters (?) (pikki); loan sharks who keep the money going round; those who provide the establishments with credit card machines registered for another kind of business; lawyers; condom, Bacchus drink, napkin, and beer retailers, and gangsters taking care of the market shares; unlicenced nurses (syringe aunties); providers of all kinds of medicines.

This should not be read as if the publication was condoning prostitution for its positive effect on the economy.

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