Sex is on sale in Seoul’s Cheongnyangni 588 red light district

South Korea is filled with adult entertainment options for men with money to spend. By many estimates the country is home to one of the largest commercial sex scenes in the entire world. I have covered the country in some detail but I have yet to report on the vast majority of the action here at Rockit Reports.

Although South Korea is a relatively small and compact country it is filled with millions of people and countless roads and backstreets. Many of these street house shops aimed at draining guys of their money and often some of their bodily fluids too. Seoul alone is home to hundreds if not thousands of adult shops of various kinds. I am limited in what I can do though I try.

Red light districts seem to be dying out in South Korea though there are still plenty of them around. The still existing red light districts are often plagued by rumors and even signs warning of immanent destruction. Some have become impervious to these warnings since so many of them have failed to pan out. What else can you expect from a country that has officially outlawed prostitution yet permits large red light districts to operate in the middle of the capital city?

The most commonly visited red light district for foreign guys is probably Hooker Hill in Itaewon. In fact it’s not a red light district in the traditional sense. It’s simply a row of bars where a lot of women work. Red light districts tend to have women working out of windowed shops with things like red light illuminating them. The most famous example would be De Wallen in Amsterdam.

There are several real red light districts in Seoul aimed at local guys. Older gentlemen seem to be the main clientele but younger guys visit too especially at night when the bars empty out.

Cheongnyangni 588 is one of the main red light districts in Seoul. The district is named after the local area with the addition of a number that indicates a bus line that used to run through with regularity. Locals often describe the place as simply oh pal pal. That is the way to say 5-8-8 in the Korean Language.

The Cheongnyangni 588 red light district is hidden in plain site. It is located just outside of a major subway station and near some rather large retail stores. Cheongnyangni 588 is accessed by going out of Cheongnyangni Station’s exit 5. Coming out of the exit and bearing left leads one to cross a small alley. One of the entrances to Cheongnyangni 588 lies after the crossing.

The district takes up a few city blocks. It isn’t sealed off but there aren’t a lot of other businesses mixed in either. It is mainly row after row of rooms with windows in the front. Women stand inside of these small rooms and wait for customers to pass. At any given moment about half of the windows may be full.

The women who work in the windows tend to be attractive. They mostly appear to be in their twenties. They spend a lot of time working on their hair and makeup. Sometimes they can even be seen working on these things while in the windows. They wear sexy clothes though nothing too revealing. Some may be in their thirties. In the very back row there are a few shops with much older and much less attractive women. These ladies are usually chubby but cheerful. They seem to accept all comers too which is different from most of the other women in the district.

Most of the women in the district are only interested in guys who are Korean or at least look like they are. Obvious foreigners are often ignored. Sometimes they are given distasteful looks. It’s all a part of the business. The biggest reason for this seems to be that Korean guys have certain ideas about foreign men and don’t want to follow them in these sorts of places. It runs a lot deeper than anything that could addressed in a report like this.

Some of the women in the main rows will accept foreigners. They are more likely to do so if there are no potential Korean customers around. Korea language skills can help foreigners who are already accepted to get through sessions but they don’t appear to aid in getting guys accepted to begin with.

Guys know when women accept them for the most part. The ladies are keen to make money so they will smile or wave to customers in an attempt to get them over to their windows. In some cases they will even knock on the glass or make other sounds. When the women are not interested they will turn away or look elsewhere.

Sessions are quickly negotiated at the doors of the rooms. The standard price is 80,000 Won ($72 USD) for a short round of covered full service though there can be all sorts of variations. Foreigners don’t seem to be overcharged when they are accepted but anything is possible.

The activity takes place in rooms behind or above the windowed lobbies. The windowed rooms are covered when women are busy. The ladies either turn out lights or pull curtains around their transparent cubicles when they are indisposed.

Sessions typically last around fifteen minutes or however long it takes to get the job done. It’s not a place for romantic rendezvous. The name of the game is getting the customer off and out so that more money can be made.

Cheongnyangni 588 starts to come alive during the day. The first ladies show up in the morning but the area really gets active in the afternoon. I don’t know that there are any real closing hours. Things seem to wind up sometime after midnight depending on how many people are around.

Police patrol the area with regularity though they don’t seem to bother the women or their customers. This is different from Hooker Hill. There a simple drive through by police can send women scrambling into their bars to lock doors and shut off lights.

Cheongnyangni 588. Cheongnyangni, Seoul, South Korea. Open seven days a week from around noon to around midnight. Click here for a map.

14 Comments

  1. guywithaquestion says:

    Sounds about right, the retarded korean government is always trying to ban or outlaw anything immoral. (Lived there for 4 months)

    Students attending cram school or extra tutoring = better make school hours longer
    hooker hill = close it down
    porn = ban it

    regardless just rockit is spot on just google or youtube search these places and the images of the women displayed are hot as fuck. but be careful with the police in some of the areas normally a lot of these shops have cameras and walkie talkies that connect with the neighborhood to warn for incoming police. funnily enough a lot of the non-korean escorts i talk too here in the US all have a connection with korea. i guess if you want to learn the trade learn from the best…

    • rockit says:

      Thanks for the comment. I’ve never heard of anyone being arrested for visiting a red light district in Seoul but it may be possible. Cheers .

  2. guy says:

    if they are dying might be time to take a trip before they are gone…

    • rockit says:

      I take claims of demise with a grain of salt though since I’ve been hearing them for years. Cheers.

    • guywithaquestion says:

      nah I wouldn’t worry too much I hear the same thing every year. Some politician (ahole) wants to close it down but half way through they give up and make some half ass law or try again next time, it happens quite often as you think. It’s like thailand, prostitution is illegal but no one bats an eye because of how big it is. It brings in a lot of money and money is something everyone likes. In the end all the government does is make it a little harder to access these services.

    • rockit says:

      I have seen some places shut down. Usually it’s a development that needs the property. Sometimes moral outrage is used to move things along. There are a few instances of pure moral outrage closing places down in Asia but it’s not so common. That’s more the domain of America where any politician or busy body can shut places down purely by pissing and moaning. I think the red light districts in South Korea are dying out more from a lack of patronage than anything else. As with many things it is mostly moving to the internet now. Cheers.

  3. guy says:

    ya it seems every expat board/site like this you go to is fulled of ‘things are changing’ but… they never really seem to change, or at least not the drastic changes

    • rockit says:

      To be fair some things have. For example the wild bars of Washington Square in Sukhumvit Soi 22 are gone along with the square itself. The blowjob bars of Phnom Penh have been done away with. Price too. They’ve doubled and trebled in many places. Cheers.

    • guy says:

      oh ya there definitely have been some changes, heck in my short time in SEA the santos/blow row bars in angeles have all but disappeared

      but at the end of the day finding a girl still is super easy

  4. Subzero says:

    Any insight if you got caught during a police raid? I believe different country has different rules but generally what will happen? Stay in a cell overnight? Pay a fine?

    • rockit says:

      I’ve never heard of a foreigner being arrested for being in a red light district in South Korea though I am sure it is possible. It may even have happened. I don’t pretend to know anything. I’m not a lawyer or expert on South Korea law. Reports saw that locals arrested for purchasing sex can be fined and sent to “John School”. One would guess that punishment for foreigners would be the same and possibly combined with deportation. Cheers.

    • guywithaquestion says:

      No it doesn’t happen too much with foreigners if the police do catch you going in or coming out they usually end up roughing or (attempt to) questioning you, not sure about raids. According to a friend of mine he was stopped by one of them at hooker hill coming out of a shop and they asked him a couple of questions. It was all in broken english so he just kept calm and spoke politely back to them in english. Since the conversation wasn’t going anywhere they warned him to stay away from the area and he complied. aaanndd of course he came back the next day to meet the fine girls :)

  5. Deca says:

    I found some of your phrase very entertaining. i.e. ” Many of these street house shops aimed at draining guys of their money and often some of their bodily fluids too.” LOL
    I used to go there just few times in my twenties and the girls would scream at me to get my attention. Now, only some do as I am getting old. :( In my experience, nowadays they accept foreign guys without hesitation and even give them lower rates than the normal rates for the Koreans. This is what I heard from friends but the quality of girls are much lower than the girls you would see at some of the locals only lipcafe or offies but I haven’t done enough p4p in these red district to know for sure. At least what you see is what you get here, so it seems OK. good report! Cheers!

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