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Korean red light district now a cultural village

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Seonosong-dong was once a large and thriving red light district in the Korean city of Jeonju. Now it is “Seonosong Village,” a so-called cultural village where middle class consumers hobnob with NGO types and other assorted wonks. Together they celebrate their positive transformation of the area from a lurid set of sex streets to some sort of a cultural beacon.

Call me a philistine but I think there is a time and a place for prostitution in a society like ours. Clearly a lot of people agree with me. South Korea has one of the highest percentages of guys paying for sex in the world. And the fact that this and other red light districts have been abolished doesn’t change that. Instead we just see a move towards more underground business with the help of the internet. Out of sight, out of mind.

closed red light district

Before, the women working in the red light districts were out in the open. You could see them and they could see you. The women were free to reject whoever they didn’t want to service. It was an okay model. That’s why it lasted so long, and can be found from East Asia to Europe. Before it has been disappearing for years. The results aren’t great.

Now things are more hidden. Pimps even seem to have more control than before. You find a place or an advert and you have to send a message over the internet. You don’t talk to the actual women, let alone see them. And they can’t see you either. Instead you have to prove to some strange guy that you are okay and an acceptable customer. If he agrees, he’ll send you to some point. There you contact him again. Then he comes to meet you or gives further directions. Eventually you might actually be introduced to a woman.

Every place and things isn’t like that. We still have many anma massage and yes even red light districts too. But things are turning more and more towards this direction. A friend of mine told me he had to wait two weeks for a reservation to meet a woman who turned out to be bad in bed and unattractive. How is that? This was all before Covid-19. I think things are only going to get worse.

Yet the official world out there likes to pretend that prostitution doesn’t exist. Or instead they try to paint it as the worst profession in the world. Clearly they’ve never scrubbed toilets in an international airport for next to nothing. I think sex work is like any other work. What makes body waxing so different from penis pulling anyway?

Seonosong-dong used to be a place where hundreds of women made a living by making guys happy. Now you might be able to find a handful of grandmas remaining if you really look. Meanwhile the highly esteemed Seonosong Village was able to proclaim world status and go for UN recognition at a cost of just 7.4 billion Won ($6,039,193 USD). Talk about getting fucked for money!

This is a guest review by Korean contributor Yang Pa – Rockit

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