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A very interesting site about Filipina and Russian hookers that are available around Osan airbase in Korea in the Shinjang mall bars. Korea sex from an all American view with lots of stuff to read about if you are interested in soldier-hooker romance. read full article from saved archives below:
Acknowledgement: Special thanks to Jack Terwiel, Capt, USAF (Ret) of the Osan Retired Activities Office for photos of base (past and present) -- Dan Klopten, Robert Furrer, Robert Evilsizor, Ron Freedman, Harry Tezlaf and Ken Shallenbarger. Special thanks to Jackie Turner, 7th AF Historian, and John Okonski, 51st FW Historian, for their assistance with photos and guidance on the history of Osan AB. Thanks to Curly Knepp, Maj, USAF (Ret) for his photos and direction in uncovering the history of the area. Thanks to Don Tomajan for his comments, photos and assistance on the EAB history in 1952-1954. Thanks to Bob Spiwak for his narratives and photos of life at Osan AB in 1953.
Special thanks to Mr. Oh Sun-soo, Victoria Hotel, for his information on the early development of Songtan. Special thanks to Mr. Jim Price, AIG Insurance, for his sharing of his experiences during his long residence in Songtan. Special thanks to Mr. Yi Kyong Chu, Kasey Lee's Tailors, for his help and guidance in assembling this history. Thanks to Mr. Kim Sang-do, Electronic Repair Shop, and Mr. Jeong Tae-ho, Young Chon Hotel, for their help in providing information of the early days of the Young Chon Alley area. Thanks to Mr. Son Kwang-chil, Hanyang Kalbi, and Mr. Yi N.K, Korea Hotel, for providing information of the early days of the Milwal-dong area.
Special thanks to Ms. Jin Dal-lae and other staff members of the Jisan-dong Ward Office for taking the time to research and provide historical materials on Songtan and Pyongtaek City. Thanks to the Shinjang 1-dong Ward Office for taking time to provide information on the roads in the area. Thanks to the Seojong-dong Ward Office staff and Chief of the ward Office, Choi Yun-su, for their help in providing maps to unravel the confusing boundary issues. Much of the information on Pyongtaek City and the Songtan area was extracted from the Pyeongtaek City History, Pyeongtaek Si Sa. Thanks to the Songbuk Elementary School for permission to use their photos from their private collection.
View of Osan AB (USAF Photo)
THIS IS A WORK IN-PROGRESS AND FACTS ARE BEING ADDED/DELETED DURING THIS PROCESS. THIS IS NOT A COMPLETED HISTORY.
AMERICAN OFF-BASE BAR CULTURE IN SHINJANG AREA
The first "bar row" was the Namsan village at the base of Hill 170 before the Hill 180 Main Gate was opened. A clap-trap bar advertising "ice cold beer" and working girls were located there. The village was located in the "dimple" area of Hill 170 off-base. This off-base area was abandoned as a "bar row" when the Main Gate at Hill 180 opened.
This is now the Namsan Village area in Shinjang 1(il)-dong area in the "dimple area" of Hill 170 next to the Bravo Gate. There was a perimeter fence around Hill 170 dividing the village from the hill but access was through the rail spur area. After the Main Gate on Hill 180 opened in 1954, this area's "bar row" was abandoned and the area reverted to being sparsely populated with farm houses.
(L) Black Market Mamasans outside Compound Fence (1953) (Bob Spiwak) (R) Getting a beer in Village (Namsan Village area) (1953) (Bob Spiwak)
Local Working Girls in Namsan Village area (1953) (Bob Spiwak)
In Namsan-ni Village (1953) (Bob Spiwak) (NOTE: Sign for 24-hour service from Jaeil Photo Shop. Left is country house converted into restaurant. Items under sign include Korean-style desks so these items are for sale.)
On the other side of the base at Hill 180 to the west, the Hill 180 gate opened and immediately Makum-ni became a center of prostitution -- frequented mostly by the Army anti-aircraft personnel situated on the top of Hill 180. Makum-ni was at the base of a sharp incline if one turned right as one exited the Hill 180 gate. Ron Freedman of Punta Gorda FL was a 2nd Lt. with the 398th AAA AW Bn at K55. He stated, "There was a village called Makum-ni down the bottom of the hill on the west side. It was filled with prostitutes, and we had a terrible time keeping the GI's out of it. Our CO told us that we had the highest VD rate in all of Korea." (SITE NOTE: Though Lt. Freedman's battery was on Hill 170, he was referring to the main anti-aircraft batteries stationed at the highest point on base near the top of Hill 180. (Source: Ed McManus email, 13 July 2005 statement "Additionally an anti-aircraft outfit moved in and wanted the top of (Hill) 180 for gun positions and their battery areas.") This area would be turned over to the ROKAF Air Defense elements after the Korean War.)
(L) Hill 180 Gate (now closed) (R) View of Makum-ni area from the Hill 180 Gate (2005) (Kalani O'Sullivan)
If you turned left as you exited the Hill 180 Gate, there were huddles of low-houses for those who had found employment on base. It was said that many North Korean refugees -- mostly from the Hwanghae-do area -- attracted to Osan AB by the promise of work clustered in this area for mutual protection and support. The dirt path followed the perimeter of the base until it came to Milwal-dong road then down the hill to the Main Gate.
Hideaway Club (1958) (Don Klopten)
Cal Collier of Lincoln, CA wrote in Dec 2005, "The bars and dance halls were our main source of intertainment and being 19 at the time I (and most or all of my friends) took advantage of the services the local "business girls" offered. It was $2 for a short time and $5 for all night or for $30 a month anytime day or night for all month. Since I worked shifts I had a deal worked out with a local mamason where I could stay all day for $3. You could leave your watch or some other valuable if you were broke and redeem it payday. Most of us caught the clap at least once. But not me (wink, wink). There was a korean VD clinic on every block back then and they had sighs out front advertising their business. I don't think the GI used them though."
By the 1960s, houses were spreading around the base of Hill 180. The Milwal-dong area -- where the Capitol Hotel is now -- was still simply a wide dirt path up the hill that veered right onto a small dirt path that continued around the base of Hill 180 until the Hill 180 gate. The houses in the area were all tightly packed but were now spreading down the slopes instead of just along the perimeter. Makum-ni continued in operation as a brothel area, but the trade was moving to the Shinjang area and it was slowly returning to a farming community. A tiny road from the Hill 180 Gate now connected to the road to Anjung and Seojong-ni Station (Rte 340).
After this period in 1962-63 when the area became Songtan-eup or Songtan Town, the American use of the term "Chicoville" (Chicol Village) disappears and the term "Songtan" is substituted to represent the area from then on. One can see that the mechanics were in the works to create the legalized "kijich'on" (camptown) system. In June 1962, by joint action, the Ministries of Justice, Interior, and Social Welfare and related agencies established 104 "special districts" of prostitution. In this way, the American "camptowns" could be classified as "special tourism zones" which were off-limits to Koreans. At the same time, the red-light districts were off-limits to the Americans. The cultures were separated in the chase for the almighty dollar. At the time, the major source of foreign currency exchange for Korea came from the American soldiers spending their paychecks downtown. During this time, the prostitutes of Korea were praised by the Park Chung-hee regime for their actions to bring in much needed foreign exchange.
Through the use of tax incentives such as tax-free beer purchases, the bars were encouraged to locate within the Special Tourism area in Shinjang. Though prostitution had been illegal in Korea since 1949, the law had never been enforced. In 1962, instead of enforcing the law, the ROK regulate it by setting up 70 red-light districts for the Koreans while creating "Special Tourist Zones" for American camptowns.
According to Oh Sun-soo, the Songwang-ni area near -- where the Songshin Elementary School and Taegwang Middle-High School of Shinjang-2 dong are now -- was the original area for business growth in the 1960s. Eventually this growth would spread to the small Jungang Open Market. Even today one notices that the old furniture and hardware shops are located in this area. At the same time, the growth had spread to the the MSR-1 area in Songbuk-dong and the growth of the Songbuk-dong Open Market. The Jaeil Movie Theater opened two blocks down from the intercity bus station along MSR-1. Later the larger Jungang Movie Theater opened at the top of the Milwal-dong hill -- where the Capital Hotel is now -- next to the one engine fire station. A police box was set up at the end of the intersection of the Mokcheon road and the Tanhyeon Road (original MSR-1) -- across from the Songbuk Farmers' Open Market. The center of activity was now in the Shinjang area.
However, in the 1960s, racial tensions grew and bars became segregated. There were black and white bar rows. The Shinjang Mall area was a white-only bar area and the area just past the Terminal Ridge Road was where there were black-only bars. This area was also known as "Kyotongdae" -- and the Jwa-dong was applied to the area further down. (Source: Verbal conversation with Kwon Oh-hoon, 23 Aug 2005.)
Originally the name "Sutkogae" was applied to the entire rise area from near the farmers market to the Jisan Park area along Jisan Road (Jwa-dong Road). However, by the mid-1960s, "Sutkogae" was applied to an area across the railroad tracks from the Terminal Ridge Road down Jwa-dong Road (MSR-1). (NOTE: The Shinjang Road overpass was not built at that time.) In this area there were strictly black-only bars (such as Papa Joe's), while the "Chicoville" area became a whites-only area. The "Sutkogae" area also was known as an area of brothels. (Source: Verbal conversation with Oh Sun-soo, 21 Jul 2005.)
(L) Hilltop Club located near the Young Chon Hotel. (Circa 1977) (51st FW Archives); (R) Papa Joe's -- a black club that relocated back to Shinjang area from Sutkogae area. (1977) (Harry Tezlaf)
In the 1970s there was a rise in racial tensions between blacks and whites in the military -- reflecting the racial tensions experienced throughout America. There were "race riots" between blacks and whites and blacks and Koreans in the K-6 Camp Humphreys area in Anjeong-ni as well as in other Army garrisons/camps throughout the peninsula. On many occasions, the town of Anjeong-ni was placed off-limits. Because of the racial tensions, the "Sutgoge" area was closed down -- by the levying of base off-limits sanctions -- and the larger "black" bars relocated to the Shinjang mall area. It was not until the late 1980s that the racial tensions subsided.
Racial tension between blacks and whites became a problem -- as it was throughout America and the military worldwide. On Martin Luther King's birthday in 1971, 300 soldiers marched peacefully in Camp Stanley -- but the point was that the blacks felt that they were being denied promotion and equal treatment. Racial incidents increased. In June 1971 a riot in Itaewon left 13 injured and area was placed off-limits.
Camp Humphreys had a race riot in April 1971. On 13 Apr 1971 after three days of racial incidents in Anjong-ni village outside of Camp Humphreys end as the village was temporarily put off limits. Several US soldiers were arrested on charges of arson and larceny. (Source: The US Military Experience in Korea 1871-1982, p148, Command Historian's Office, USFK/EUSA)
Offbase, Korea had a history of problems between minority soldiers and Koreans in the past. The tensions between black and white servicemen increased, spread through various camp areas in Korea, and exploded on the weekend of July 9, 1971, in the village of Anjongni. The village of Anjong-ni outside Camp Humphreys was placed off-limits after the riot between Americans and ROK citizens. Ironically, 400 bar hostess protested the off-limits as they could not make a living. Anjong-ni was placed back on limits in August 1971. (Source: 8th Army Chronology) (NOTE: A Pentagon study revealed that the 2d ID had a greater ratio of blacks, 30.1 percent, than any other active Army division. It was reported that blacks considered Korea a good country with very little racial prejudice. The study also showed that blacks comprised 31.7 percent of all firts term reenlistments, and that black strength in the Army rose from 17 to 22 percent between 1 Jul 72 and 1 Jan 75. (Source: 8th Army 1975 Chronological History.)
The once all-white Shinjang Mall bar area was "integrated" under threat of off-limits sanctions. However, even though "integrated" clubs were the rule, African-American soldiers were often "guided" to tables or certain areas of the club. The Shinjang bar owners did this in an attempt to prevent racial incidents that might place their establishments off-limits. After such bars as Papa Joe's had relocated to the Shinjang Mall area, there were periodic incidents of violence -- mostly blamed on soldiers stationed outside of the Osan AB area.
The Osan AB answer to the race problems was to pass the baton to the Osan AB "Social Actions" staff and initiate "training" programs. The catch-all "Affirmative Actions" and "Equal Employment Opportunity" programs were aimed to be the cure-all to the social ills reflected in American society in general. However, the success of these programs are still debated 30 years later.
Town Patrol in Shinjang area (1977) (USAF Photo)
In the 1980s, the Miracle of the Han arrived in the Songtan area. There was an upheaval as the Korean standard of living improved and massive changes were made in the local area with the reclamation project of Jisan-dong, the rerouting of Route 1 in 1985 and the rapid growth in the Seojong-ni area. The ground work was being laid for the start of the industrial parks in the area. The first step was the building of housing for the expected influx of workers and improvement of the highway infrastructure. All of these changes started to isolate the Shinjang area economy based on a tourism base, from the rest of the community that was expanding as factories moved into the area. Suddenly the once separate Seojong-ni area began to meld into the Jisan-dong area with small 3-story apartment buildings filling the area near the railroad tracks. In the boundary area, a small Korean bar row sprouted up to cater to the new population moving into the area.
The bar area of Shinjang (commonly referred to by the Americans as Songtan) remained static with small improvements in the cosmetics of the area, but it remained isolated from the rest of the community. What had once been a community isolated from the rest of the Songtan area, now started to feel the pinch as new businesses and shops started to crowd in around the Shinjang area. (NOTE: A misimpression by Americans of the times was that the bars made money off of the prostitutes when in fact, the beer sales was major profit-maker for the bars. The women were the come-on to attract the soldiers and airmen to the bars. It was not until the 1990s that the bar-owners got into a confrontation with the base authorities when they actively participated in the promotion of prostitution under the "bar-fine" system.)
By the 1990s, the Korean bar girls no longer were attracted to the "cheap trade" of the American camptowns. A Korean bar girl could earn up to five times as much at a Korean bar. The Miracle of the Han arrived in Korea and everything grew more expensive -- at the same time, the bars of Songtan was experiencing a shortage of Korean bargirls. Those girls that remained were rapidly aging and the bar owners were faced with a dilemma as the axiom of bar life is "no pretty girls -- no customers." The economic reality was that the Korean bar girls had priced themselves out of the market of the camptown bars like Songtan. A Korean bar girl could earn twice as much in a Korean bar where Korean males were well-known to be high spenders. In comparison, the GI's paycheck was dwindling in comparison to the Korean and he became the "Cheap Charlie" instead of "rich GI" of years past.
(L) Shinjang Mall bar (Circa 1990) (R) Town Patrol in Shinhang Mall area (Circa 1990)
Though the Shinjang Mall was the upscale end of the camptown bars on the peninsula, it was still not a match for the Korean trade. The Korean sex trade amounts to between an estimated 2.4 percent - 4 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). (See A-town and Prostitution for discussion and historical background on the camptown and Korean sex industry.) The bottom line for the Shinjang area bars was that their Korean bar girls were rapidly aging and the bar owners were finding it harder and harder to attract replacements. In the early 1990s, the bar owners started to use Russians who had set up operations in Pusan in 1990s.
Songtan faired better than other camptown areas because many soldiers and airmen from around the peninsula were attracted to Osan on the weekends. However, it was still caught in a trap with the lack of bar girls. It found its answer in the hiring of bar girls from Though Songtan faired better than other areas because many GIs from bases like Kunsan AB were attracted to Osan on the weekends, it was still caught in a trap. It found its answer in the hiring of bar girls from Russia and the Philippines -- the Russians for their white skin and the Filipinas for their English speaking ability. At first the bar owners attempted to treat these foreign bar girls as Korean bar girls, but there were too many cultural problems. The cost of importing these girls required upfront money placing a further financial burden on the bar owners.
Shinjang Mall (2001) (Curley Knepp)
The Russian women (Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Moldova) appeared in the Korean bars first and then the Songtan bars joined in importing these women. The Russians had already established their presence in Pusan with the taking over of the "Little Texas" area -- and also the appearance of the Russian "mafia" in the area as well. The Filipinas came next and were preferred as they spoke English. By Aug 1999, the Pyeongtaek area had 21 towns employing these foreign "entertainers" for a total of 343 persons.
Russian girls at a Birthday Party (2002) (Songtan Yahoo Group)
Pyeongtaek Police reported problems with these women due to communication difficulties -- in that they could not speak Korean and were frequently caught in unlawful acts. The Korean police started getting complaints about these foreign women as they failed to pay their bills and created disturbances due their being drunk and disorderly in public. During Team Spirit, these women also "disappeared" from the bars with their new-found American boyfriends -- creating a runaway illegal alien problem involving the Immigration authorities. (Source: Pyeongtaek City History CD, "Pyeongtaek Si Sa.")
(L) Anna at Golden Gate (2002) (Unknown); (R) Filipinas in the Mall (2002) (Unknown)
It was at this point the bar owners increased the going rate for sex services to bring the camptown rates for sex (prostitution fees) more in line with what was paid in the Korean bars. This is where the Korean Bar Owners Association turned from being bar owners into brothel managers. The old use of bar fines to offset the loss of income for a girl who left early became an open "ticket" for prostitution. The scene was being set up for a disastrous confrontation. (See A-town and Prostitution for details on this sordid area.)
In 2001, the 9/11 attack by Al Quaida in New York City created problems in Korea for the Shinjang bars as "force protection" became the watchword for the Town Patrol. Permitting backpacks into bars was enough to place a bar off-limits. The tightened security placed a damper on the operations of the bar row for a while, but it soon returned to normal.
Filipinas in Songtan Bar (2004) (Songtan After Dark)
Then in 2002, the foreign bar girls became the center of a human trafficking scandal that rocked the USFK. In July 2002, a FOX affiliate released an expose on the seedier side of life in Songtan and Euijongbu. The accusation was made that the Town Patrols knowingly permitted human trafficking -- if not abetting the act. Whether justified or not, the USFK was placed under a magnifying glass and General LaPorte forced to testify before Congress as how the USFK was going to "solve" the problem. However, the USFK had no control over "fixing" the problem as the ROK had been identified as a MAJOR human trafficker by international human rights organizations. The ROK allowed the entry of the foreign "entertainers" on E-6 visas -- and continued to do so even after some countries requested that it stop doing so. (See A-town and Prostitution for details on this sordid area.)
In 2003, the 51st FW Commander launched an anti-prostitution campaign using "force protection" as the basis for setting curfews and off-limits sanctions on many businesses. Throughout Korea in the USFK camptowns from Itaewon to Uijongbu to Songtan, many small bars were forced into bankruptcy because their businesses were crippled by constant off-limits actions.
Russian Dancer at Road House in Osan (2003) (Unknown)
In about July 2004, the ROK Immigration moved to evict the Russian element from Korean "camptowns" because of the ever increasing international pressure over prostitution and human trafficking. In addition there was growing evidence that the Russian gangs were moving into Korea for extortion and prostitution. (NOTE: The Russia "mafia" operated out of Pusan in a section previously known as Little Texas where the bars signs are written in Cryllic (Russian).) However, the Filipina bar girl population simply increased to offset the loss of the Russians.
Opera Club in evening viewed from Rodeo Alley (2005) (Kalani O'Sullivan)
By Sept 2004, the Russian element was gone -- though there were rumors that some Russians girls had run away instead of being deported. This was a prelude to the Korean anti-Prostitution campaign that the ROK government kicked off in Sept 2004.
Though the Philippines had asked for a restriction of the E-6 visas for "entertainers," it has almost half-heartedly pressed the matter. Instead, it set up legal assistance for those Filipina "entertainers" who claimed to have been abused. After the Russians were evicted, the Wing Commander attempted a different tactic in trying to prevent the Filipinas from dancing (if in violation of their contracts -- which most are).
Under the new ROK law a mandatory three-year prison sentence for anyone convicted of engaging in human trafficking for the sex trade. Members of organized crime would get a minimum of five years. Another new law offers rewards of 20 million won (around $17,000) for information leading to the conviction of human traffickers. Another provision lets the government confiscate all proceeds and property earned through the illegal sex trade. An additional new wrinkle would differentiate legally between women involuntarily in the sex trade (who would be classified as victims) and those who are determined to voluntarily sell sex (who would be punished as criminals). However, most Koreans look upon these new laws with skepticism as the "crackdown" in Sept 2004 will simply give way to "enforcement" in Oct 2004. In the past, it meant no action unless the spotlight is focused on the problem. (SITE NOTE: In 2005 on the one-year anniversary of the "crackdown," the press published the results that more arrests were made in the one month "crackdown" than in the whole year that followed. The police said that was because the amounts of brothels in the red-light districts have decreased. What they don't say was that the brothels went underground and moved into the residential areas where they are harder to track and regulate. You draw your own conclusions.)
The move to shut down the sex industry that is estimated to account for 2.4 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was a tall order. (NOTE: Other ROK reports state that it is 4.0 percent of GDP -- about $22 billion annually.) By October, ancillary businesses relying on the sex trade (beauty shops, restaurants, saunas, hotels) were failing and 10,000 prostitutes were in the streets staging protests nationwide. The whole crackdown was a fiasco as in the end the Korean National Police had to pay informants in order to make arrests. For all the turmoil, the results were an embarassment. (See A-town and Prostitution for details on the ROK anti-prostitution campaign.)
The following is from Robert Koehler (The Marmot) at Marmot's Hole on 23 Sep 2004, detailing the new legislation and offering some insightful commentary.
Starting Wednesday night, beefed-up anti-prostitution laws will take affect in the Republic of Korea. By just about any standard, the current anti-prostitution law — the 1961 Prostitution Prevention Law (Korean: Yullak haengwi deung bangji-beop) — has abysmally failed to do what it was ostensibly intended to do, namely, stop prostitution. Accordingly, two new laws — the Sex Trade Middleman Punishment Law and Sex Trade Victim Protection Law — were enacted. The Joongang Ilbo (Korean) outlined some of the changes that are expected (?) to take place:
– Those who confine women and force them to sell sex or engage in human trafficking for the sex trade will get a minimum of three years in the pen. This roughly corresponds with the punishment given to those convicted of burglary or causing injuries resulting in death. Organized crime members engaging in human trafficking for the sex trade will get a minimum of five years. The original law had no separate articles for those crimes. The new laws also provide for up to W20 million rewards to those tipping police off to human trafficking. The law aims to pull out the roots of prostitution by hitting the middle men the hardest. It also calls for all the proceeds and property earned through pimping and prostitution advertisements to be confiscated. Also of note, not just sexual intercourse, but also other sexual acts using tools or parts of the body other than the genitals are now punishable. This makes cracking down on barbershops, massage parlors, phone rooms and other such places much easier, and one would imagine a W60,000 handjob much harder to obtain.
– The new laws designate those women who sell sex while being confined by their employers or while hooked on drugs as victims, as it does minors and women who are physically or mentally handicapped. Accordingly, they will not be punished. Women voluntarily involved in the trade, however, will be punished, and this is expected to cause controversy, both during actual crackdowns and during trials (as well it should). Debts owed by women to their employers, often used to shackle prostitutes to the trade, will automatically be canceled. The old law not only punished all women involved in prostitution, regardless of circumstance, but there have actually been instances of brothel owners suing their former employees for unpaid debts and/or breach of contract and winning.
Also of note, those men caught frequenting a prostitute’s services will be automatically booked and punished with up to a year in jail, W3 million in fines, or other punishments like community service. The previous law called for similar punishments, but most men busted in the company of a working girl were let go with a warning.
– The War on Prostitution: each police station will form three anti-prostitution teams to crack down intensively on prostitution for a one month test period. The Ministry of Gender Equality is doing anti-prostitution PR work at the water fountain behind the Sejong Cultural Center, and women’s groups in the greater Gyeonggi Province area will be doing promotion campaigns of their own. Since April, the office of the prime minister has been running a “Prostitution Prevention Measures Inspection Team,” composed of officials from 14 ministries and departments, so it would initially appear that the government is serious about eliminating prostitution from Korea.
The question, of course, is will the new laws work. CBS (Korean) pointed out that much of that rested with how seriously police took the crackdown. Police are expected to concentrate their efforts on confinement and human trafficking, pimps who rip their girls off financially, and forced prostitution. They are also expected to crack down on advertising, which means you might see a lot less of those lewd little advertising cards scattered in front of yogwans (or schools, for that matter) advertising for massages or other sexual services, at least for the next month.
The problem is that if this is going to work, the relationship between the police and pimps needs to be broken first. One person involved in the trade told CBS that the police never made patrols, and they informed pimps of crackdown dates. When new girls came, police were paid off with free service. The Segye Ilbo (Korean) also pointed to examples of police collusion with the sex trade. I blogged back in April that a brothel owner attempted to set himself on fire (no one was quite sure why) at Yongsan Police Station in connection with kickbacks being paid to cops in return for protection of their businesses.
If I might add, there are other issues as well. Unless you just arrived in Korea yesterday, you should be perfectly aware by now that prostitution is a major industry in Korea. That’s not a judgment, BTW; it’s a simple fact. We’re not talking about just red-light districts concentrated in certain areas; in any major city, it’s hard to walk five minutes in any direction without passing at least one establishment — massage parlors, barber shops, phone rooms, ticket tea houses, what have you — where one could blow his load for a reasonable sum of money. There are obviously a lot of people employed in this sector, and the ubiquitous nature of such places would suggest that prostitution is a reasonably well accepted form of male entertainment, even if a survey by the Ministry of Gender Equality resulted in 94.9 percent of respondents agreeing that prostitution is a crime (with 93.9 percent saying that the prostitution problem in Korea is “serious”). A serious crackdown is going to run into a ton of resistance, both of the active variety from people being put out of work and the passive variety by those who don’t see why the government should be getting involved in this.
For the police, I’m sure they’ll be on the ball for the first month, given the pressure they’ll most likely be receiving from the politicians whose whores are both out of the price range of the common man and beyond the scope of police attention. After that, I see no reason to believe this won’t end up like the much ballyhooed crackdown on drivers crossing stop lines — was absolutely awe-inspiring for the first week or so, but decidedly less so afterward. I can certainly see them going all out on the human trafficking, forced prostitution and underage prostitution — there would seem to be some sort of social consensus that such practices are intolerable. I can even imagine them having some success in cracking down on the financial shackles keeping women involved in the trade longer than they wish. Eliminating prostitution all together, however, would be a joke, and I can’t understand why the government doesn’t simply abandon the fiction and legalize the industry, making it easier to regulate (this would apply to other nations, too).
Also on the prostitution front, Newsis reported that 13 women’s groups from Gwangju/South Jeolla Province area announced Tuesday that they would oppose the deployment of U.S. Patriot missiles to Gwangju Airfield. Among the reasons given — in fact, the first one mentioned in the piece — was that the missile deployment might be accompanied by a base town, which could lead to nasty side effects like domestic and foreign human trafficking and prostitution. Personally, I found that remarkably rich; let’s just say Gwangju has some of the most vibrant “nightlife” of any city in Korea to which I’ve been, and I don’t think it was the Air Force guys from Gwangju of Gunsan driving it.
In Nov 2004, the DoD announced that it was pushing for a new change to the UCMJ that would make solicitation for prostitution a court martial offense. In Dec 2004, it was submitted for judiciary review -- and nothing has been heard of this vaunted change to the UCMJ since May 2005. (Source: Article.)
In Jan 2005, the USFK launched a "zero-tolerance" policy dealing with human trafficking and prostitution. The 51st FW Commander pressed forward with his anti-prostitution campaign using an unpopular curfew for civilians under the guise of "force protection." After a furor, the curfew was lifted for civilians, but the head-on confrontation between the base and the bar owners continued. (SITE NOTE: Our opinion is that the USFK has mixed up the political issue of human trafficking with the moral issue of prostitution. However, the problem we see with the USFK actions is that the US has NOT taken action to remedy its problems within America, but then starts attempting to enforce its political agenda on human trafficking through the soldiers abroad. The USFK leadership is trapped politically into this policy.)
My House (2003) (Unknown)
(L) Paradise Club near the Young Chon Hotel (2005) (Kalani O'Sullivan) (R) Station Club and Aloha Club in Aragon Alley (2005) (Kalani O'Sullivan) (NOTE: Korea Hotel at end of alley on right)
Stereo Club (2003) (Unknown) (NOTE: The Stereo Club is one of the oldest clubs on the strip...as the name implies, "stereo" is a term from the 1960s. The building to the left was a 1960s structure behind the facade and was demolished in 2005.)
In Mar 2005, ten members of the town patrol were placed under investigation over allegations of shaking down the bar owners. The Osan AB authorities received a major black-eye from the negative press stemming from this incident. 1st Lt. Jason D. Davis of the 51st Security Forces Squadron was incarcerated based upon a tip-off from his former Korean girlfriend -- who happened to be related to a family whose bar was placed off-limits by the base. As of mid-2005, the base backed off on the prosecution of its anti-prostitution campaign until the Shakedown Incident blew over. (SITE NOTE: Lt. Jason was the selected "fall guy" as he was the one in charge and instigated the "stings." However, the enlisted men who were involved in these "stings" received immunity for their testimony -- and other officers who knew of the situation, but said nothing, were similarly granted immunity and reassigned. You draw your own conclusions about the strength of the prosecution's case that was instigated by a KOREAN informant -- and NOT the OSI who were incredulously blind to the whole situation.)
At the same time, the Shinjang Mall area Chamber of Commerce was attempting to clean up the area's image of being involved in the sex-trade and is working to promote itself as a Mecca for bargain-hunters and a tourism site. In 1997, the area was named as a Special Tourism Zone with much fanfare. Though the IMF Crisis of the same year dampened the spirits of the drive temporarily, the business community is once again attempting to promote the mall area as a first-class shopping experience -- while minimizing the publicity of the bar culture aspects of the Shinjang Mall. However, realistically the bar culture predominates the Shinjang Mall experience even today.
SITE NOTE: FOR AN EXCELLENT PHOTO TOUR OF THE BARS IN THE SHINJANG AREA, GO TO THE RETIRED ACTIVITIES OFFICE (RAO) SITE BY JACK TIERWELL. THE SLIDE PRESENTATIONS DOES THE WALKING FOR YOU. GO TO RAO: TOUR THE BARS.
Songtan at Night (2005) (Unknown)
The following is from Frank Schreier's Songtan Site:
Songtan is known for its numerous small shops and open air markets. Seoul also offers a variety of shopping areas such as East Gate (Tongdaemun), South Gate (Namdaemun), I'taewon, Lotte Shopping Center, and many others. Ready made clothing, leather products, eel skin, purses, luggage, and brass are a good buy in Korea. American styles and sizes are available in communities surrounding most military bases. Jeans, T-shirts, sweaters, jackets, and athletic shoes are often sold at good prices. Many of the "name brands" are counterfeit; others are seconds. A few are merely factory overruns of legitimate items.
Within about six blocks, there are about 30 American-style bars. On the main street outside the base is the Golden Gate, Dragon Club, Eagles Club, and Stereo Club. On several side streets radiating off from the main road there are many others including Juliana's, Phoenix, and the UN Club. In short, Songtan is Korea's raging nightlife district. Beer and other beverages are notably cheaper than what you'd pay in Seoul. Of course, because there are many women in the Air Force, these bars are acceptable places for female tourist to comfortably enjoy a drink. Many Korean women also come here for an evening out. (SITE NOTE: Since Frank put the list on the net, the Russians were expelled from the ROK in July 2004 because of the organized crime element that was invading the peninsula. However, some Russians remain whether legally or illegally is unknown. In addition, a lot of bars have had a hard time surviving with the curfew and off-limits situations. There have been bars that went out of business and new bars have come on line since the list was published, but it still is a good list to give you an idea of what's out there.)
Club list On the Main Street/On Aragon Alley /On Yong-chon & Market Alley/On New Street (Toward the Overpass)
On the Main Street (Shin-jang Shopping Mall)
1st club on the left. 1st floor. Off street
Middle dance club
Remix dance & rock n roll
Korean and Filipino dancers
1st club on the right 2nd floor
Big dance club
Regular rock & dance
Has Filipino and Korean dancers. Has nice dancing floor
Right side. Basement
Small sex club
No dancers. A pool table and darts.
My House Club
Right side. 2nd club. Basement
Big dance club
Remix & dance
Korean and Filipino girls. Russian girls. Has a fire dance show by Filipino girls. Not pushy on juicy drinks.
Right side. 2nd floor
Middle size club
Country music dancers on weekends. A pool table & darts
Right side. 2nd floor
Middle size club
Mainly young Korean girls, Gogo dance Korean dancing girls
Left side. 2nd floor
Big stand-up bar
Rock n roll & heavy metal
Filipino girls. Two pool tables. Darts. food served.
Off main street.
Small stand-up bar
Rock & heavy metal
Korean and Filipino girls. Has one pool table.
Left side. 2nd floor
Small stand-up bar
Rock n roll & heavy metal
Four Korean girls. Has two dart boards.
Big dance club
Rock n roll and remix
A popular club. Korean and Filipino dancers.
Right side. Basement
Middle sized dance club
Remix, dance & rock
Have Filipino and Korean dancers. Has lots of girls
Golden Gate Club
Right side. Basement
Big dance club
Rock and remix dance
One of most popular & crowded club. Lots of dancing girls. Russian girls. Korean and Filipino girls. Good place to meet people. Have two pool tables. American women like to go there for dancing.
Right side. Basement
Next to BurgerKing.
Middle size dance club
Mainly rock n roll
Korean and Filipino dancers.
Next to UN club. Basement
Rock n roll & dance mix
Across from Burger King. Left side. Basement
Rock & remix
Filipino dancers. TV screens showing dance floor.
Next to Burger King
Middle size club
Rock & remix
Korean, Filipino & Russian girls
Pass railroad track
New club. Filipino dancers. Russian girls. Very young girls.
On Aragon Alley
Basement of Korea hotel in Aragon Alley.
Big dance club
Has Filipino Korean dancers.
Left side. Basement
Small dance club
Rock & remix
Has Korean and Filipino dancer
Past Apache. Left side. 1st floor
Middle sized club
Rock n roll, remix, and heavy metal
New club. Darts and pool table
Across from Crystal Club. 1st floor
Big stand-up bar
Rock n roll and heavy metal
Mainly just for drinking. videos shown. Has a brand-new pool table and darts. Snake alcohol
Aragon alley. Off street
Small standing bar
Remix and country
No dancers. Darts and standing bar. Four young waitresses
Occasional live music
No dancers. No waitress. Cocktail bar. Live music on Tues & Weds.
End of Aragon alley. Right side. 1st floor
Middle sized standing bar
Remix and country
No dancers. Darts and standing bar. Six young waitresses. Open money shoots on Fri and Sun nights.
Heavy Metal Club
End of Aragon alley. Left side. 1st floor
Middle sized club
Loud music. No dancers. Big draft mug beer.
On Yong-chon & Market Alley
Youngchon Hotel Night Club
Basement of Youngchon hotel
Big dance club
Rock & roll.
Korean & russian girls. Rather pushy on drinks. Juicy drinks - 20,000 won
Across from Pacific hotel. Basement
Big dance club
Rock & roll.
Korean fan dance (not old style). Pool room with two tables.
Underneath of Pacific hotel. Basement
Small members club
No dancers. Drinks are very cheap. Mostly for military retirees. Darts. Weekend lottery
On New Street (Toward the Overpass)
Right side. Past Sun glass shop. 2nd fl.
Next to bus stop on the right. Basement of Chunil hotel
Small standing bar
Rock and Remix
No dancers and no juicy girls. Music on request. Has a pool table. Darts. Good place to hold a private meeting or party.
(Source: Frank Schreier's Songtan Site.)
The following are from the USFK Forums.com by Mike Silvia. They give a good overview of the bars and how the Filipinas now rule the roost on the Mall bars. The Russians were evicted in 2004 -- though some remain -- and Korean bargirls are the minority. OsanGuide.com also by Mike Silvia contains reviews of the bars.
Bobo's In Paradise
Bobo's In Paradise Bar pool table
Bobo's In Paradise bar
Bobo's In Paradise bar
Songtan UN Club
Club Golden Gate
Girls in Club Golden Gate
Yong Chon Nightclub
Yong Chon Nightclub Pool
Yong Chon Nightclub Girls
Yong Chon Nightclub
Golden Gate Restaurant
Golden Gate Restaurant
USFK Starts its Zero-tolerance on Prostitution and Human Trafficking in Earnest -- Amidst Much Controversy (Jan 2005 -- On-going)
SITE OPINION: Our opinion is that the USFK was cornered into its Zero-tolerance policy as a result of the politics of the US Congress. When the spotlight was turned on the USFK in Apr 2002 as a result of allegations of the USFK fostering human trafficking, the DoD -- then involved in delicate FOTA (Future of the Alliance) negotiations with the ROK -- remained silent to the fact that the ROK had been previously identified by the US State Department as a human trafficker. The Congress, DOD and State Department allowed the USFK to take the heat in the press without saying a word. The ROK simply remained silent since the spotlight deflected attention away from its human rights violations, human trafficking abuses and fostering of prostitution in 70 government sanctioned red-light districts throughout the country. The real culprit was the ROK who permitted human trafficking with its E-6 entertainer visas and its actions to turn a blind eye to the abuses throughout the country. Gen LaPorte was "trapped" into promising to take "aggressive action" after the newspapers zeroed in on the USFK. The USFK was crucified in the press could not fight back -- and as good soldiers, it saluted and took the shaft for the ROK's problem while the DOD and State Department simply allowed the USFK to be hung out to dry.
On the POLITICAL problem of human trafficking, our biggest heartburn is that the US Congress has NOT ratified the UN protocols on the human trafficking issue, but forces the USFK to take action under some amorphic catchphrase called "core ideals." We object to the USFK suddenly taking a "moral" stance on the issue after participating since 1962 in the operations of "special tourism zones" for the GI camptowns (ki'chichon). We also object that US human trafficking is estimated annually at over 100,000 men, women and children for sex or labor -- and the US has NOT cleaned up its own act. Instead, it is forcing this issue down the USFK's throat -- to take action over a problem that the SOVEREIGN NATION OF KOREA has control. Instead of the State Department doing its job, the hot potato was tossed to the USFK which can NOT solve the problem.
On the MORAL problem of prostitution, the much vaunted Article 132 UCMJ addition to the make solicitation for prostitution punishable has disappeared under the judicial review process -- but the USFK ads continued to give the impression that it exists. Finally in Jan 2006, the Stars and Stripes reported that solicitation was now punishable under the UCMJ. (NOTE: We have not seen the amended article in the internet, but we have posted the UCMJ changes sent to Congress for approval.) The people caught in open acts of solicitation are punished under Article 92 for failure to obey a general order -- and adultery if married. We also object the use of the curfew to blatantly attempt to shut down the bars under the guise of "force protection." We also object to the abuse of off-limits sanctions using "evidence" from "sting operations" conducted by USFK personnel to identify prostitution in bars -- but do NOT have corroborating Korean National Police arrests.
We have severe heartburn with the ROK dealing with prostitution. In the ROK the sex trade is estimated at 2.4 percent of the GDP. The USFK is a miniscule portion of this sex trade -- but the ROK allows the USFK to be portrayed as the evil demon who brought prostitution to Korea. It is virtually impossible for the ROK to eliminate it -- even if it wanted to. As a result, the ROK has only paid lip-service to its crackdown on prostitution as reflected in its own Sep 2005 crime statistics -- a year after the new prostitution law went into affect -- that showed more arrests were made in the first month of the crackdown in Sep-Oct 2004 than in the entire year that followed. In addition, the crackdown has now caused prostitution in Korea to go "underground" -- and even worse to the internet where "dates" are scheduled openly through "chat rooms." To be blunt, the Korean police are doing virtually nothing to enforce its much vaunted prostitution laws.
BACKGROUND: An April 2002 report by a Fox News affiliate alleged U.S. military members and military police patrols were patronizing bars in South Korea where women from the Philippines and Russia had been forced into the sex trade.
In response, the Helsinki Commission chairman, Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., and 12 other members of Congress requested an immediate Pentagon investigation. This started the ball rolling. Investigator Joseph E. Schmitz found that military patrols were sometimes overly friendly with bar owners and often didn't report cases of sex slavery and prostitution because of a misperception that they could only report them if they had hard evidence. The report said that because of this misperception, "commanders sometimes did not take the necessary steps to place establishments off-limits." It recommended more education to help U.S. troops identify possible instances of human trafficking.
After July 2002, every newspaper in the world had jumped on the bandwagon to condemn the US military. The US military was a "soft target" that couldn't fight back and the human rights activists cornered the military -- especially after revelations of UN peace keepers also engaging in sex in Bosnia and Serbia. Then came the rape scandals at the military academies and accusations of sexual assaults and rapes in the military. The die was cast.
The military testified before Congress that it was working to improve the situation. USFK officials said they had embarked on an aggressive program to combat the sex trade and human trafficking. Among other initiatives: increasing both uniformed and nonuniformed patrols in known sex-trade enclaves; putting suspect establishments and even entire neighborhoods on "off limits" lists; and creating a human trafficking hotline for servicemembers to report suspected cases. ROK Civic NGO activists in 2005 stated that all the preceeding were examples of do-nothing "eyewash" and the situation had NOT improved.
Shinjang Mall bars in the summer (2005) (Pyeongtaek Times)
The problem with the USFK stance was that it really was NOT the culprit. The situation of human trafficking in the bars was a result of the ROK policy to grant E-6 entertainer visas in order to promote the sex industry in Korea. Korea was identified as a MAJOR trafficker in human flesh by international Human Rights groups. It had "regulated" prostitution in the redlight districts and "special tourism zones" (camptowns) since the 1960s -- though prostitution was prohibited by law since 1948.
The sad thing is that the US State Department had published their findings on Korea being in the "tier 3" of countries in non-compliance with the US anti-trafficking law. Korea had already been identified as the culprit by our own government BEFORE the sensationalism in 2002.
South Korea is a country of origin and transit for trafficking in persons. Young female Koreans are trafficked primarily for sexual exploitation mainly to the United States, but also to other Western countries and Japan. Female aliens from many countries, primarily Chinese women are trafficked through Korea to the United States and many other parts of the world. In addition to trafficking through the air, much transit traffic occurs in South Korean territorial waterways by ship.
While South Korea is a leader in the region on human rights and democracy generally, the Government has done little to combat this relatively new and worsening problem of trafficking in persons. Although it does prosecute alien smuggling activities such as visa fraud and ossession or sale of fraudulent civil documents, there are no laws that specifically address trafficking. There are statues against kidnapping and sale or purchase of sexual services with a juvenile, and maximum penalties for these are commensurate with those for rape. Although corruption occurs, there is no evidence that government officials are invoved in trafficking in persons. Aliens are treated as immigration violators and deported. No government assistance is available for trafficking victims or to support NGOs involved in assisting trafficking victims. Excerpt from: Trafficking in Persons Report. Released by the US Department of State, July 2001.
While the USFK was being fried in the press, the ROK government and the US State Department remained silent as the USFK took the heat for a situation that the ROK had created and the US State Department had previously identified. It was a political trap for the USFK. The USFK could not condemn its ROK "ally" because the touchy political negotiations on the ROK-US alliance were underway. When the spotlight was again refocused on ROK in late 2003, the ROK passed a much-lauded, but non-enforcable anti-prostitution law and launched a one-month crackdown on the red-light districts in Sep 2004.
In mid-2004, the DoD announced that a new Article 134 was coming out that would make solicitation punishable with a dishonorable discharge and up to 1 year in prison. The USFK anticipated the drafted Article 134 of the UCMJ would become military law early in 2005. It was part of the 2004 annual review of proposed amendments to the Manual for Courts-Martial was undergoing the mandatory 60-day public notice and comment period after being published in the Federal Register. After that mid-2004 announcement, nothing more has been heard of it.
In early Nov 2004, AFN (Korea) broadcast the message from USFK Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen Campbell, that sent out the message loud and clear. The USFK has a ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY on human trafficking which "degrades human dignity." In his words, it was IMMORAL, DEGRADING and ILLEGAL. He stated it was a "worldwide problem" -- however, he said it "undermines our nation." The message is that the USFK is taking a hardline on the issue of prostitution -- and logic or questioning would not change the outcome. The decision had been made -- and that was it.
He was parroting Gen LaPorte's words that it was "dehumanizing, demoralizing and illegal" who in turn was parroting President Bush' statements on human trafficking. The policy was coming down from the highest levels. The State Department estimates that about 4 million victims, mostly women and children, are taken each year and sold into the sex trade or forced labor. About 50,000 are trafficked into the United States, mainly from Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Latin America and Southeast Asia. Instead of fixing America's problem, the US military overseas was targeted.
Gen Campbell went on to state that human trafficking was "incompatible with the core values" of the military. The problem was how to translate something as amorphic as "core values" into something that is concrete and punishable under the UCMJ. The hinge pin is the "solicitation of prostitution" which is used to justify action against human trafficking. However, the premise must be that ALL prostitutes are INVOLUNTARILY trapped in the cycle of prostitution and therefore are victims of human trafficking -- not only the Philippine and Russian bar girls. However, if this was true, then the rallies with thousands of Korean prostitutes in Oct 2004 must have been a trick of the eyes. On 7 October, Agence France-Presse ("South Korean Prostitutes Rally Against Sex Trade Crackdown", 2004-10-07) reported that about 2,800 prostitutes wearing face masks and sunglasses to shield their identities marched on the National Assembly building to protest at the police crackdown on the ROK's sex trade. This was repeated in smaller numbers in various cities nationwide. (See Asia News.)
2005 CAMPAIGN: In 2005, the USFK turned to the use of its curfew policies as a method to control the bars. Gen LaPorte admitted to the punitive actions for curfew violations was an "enforcement tool" against human trafficking in testimony before Congress. "As part of our aggressive, ongoing efforts to curb prostitution and human trafficking in this area, our increased law-enforcement efforts have also resulted in the prosecution of more than 400 servicemen for related offenses, such as curfew violation and trespassing in posted off-limits locations," LaPorte said. Gen. LaPorte said the USFK is "trying to sever any links between the military and sex trafficking," by having military criminal investigators run undercover operations to target businesses involved with prostitution. Establishments in Korea that are suspected of engaging in prostitution or sexual slavery are being placed off-limits to all U.S. troops. Since January 2003, five service members have been disciplined for soliciting prostitution, 398 have been prosecuted for related offenses such as being in an off-limits location or violating curfew, and more than 600 bars, clubs and restaurants have been put off limits, LaPorte said. The anti-prostitution campaign will include an education effort aimed at military leaders and individuals and expressing the Pentagon's "zero tolerance" policy for any involvement with the sex exploitation industry, Abell said. Senior leaders will be given specific instruction about their command responsibilities and how to work with host nations and law enforcement to place establishments off limits. (Source: Prostitution Illegal Under Pending UCMJ Changes and Navy Times, Pentagon to tighten penalties for prostitution-related offenses, Rick Maze 4 Oct 2004.)
According to a General Order dated 23 Dec 2004 from Army Gen. Leon J. LaPorte, a curfew was put in effect from midnight until 0500 for all military and DoD civilians within the jurisdiction of USFK. The order prohibited them from movement off-base unless on official business. According to the General Order, signed by USFK Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Charles C. Campbell, "An off-installation curfew is in effect from 0001 to 0500 daily. During these hours, unless conducting official business, service members must be either (1) on a military installation; (2) in a private residence; or (3) in their place of lodging for the evening, which may include a hotel room off the installation." The order was issued to ensure "force protection, safety, good order, discipline, and optimum readiness," explained the USFK website. However, the main point was in Paragraph 5 of the General Order that stated it was a "punitive order" applicable to both those under the jurisdiction of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and civilians under military jurisdiction.
It became obvious to many -- especially the DoD civilians -- that "force protection" was only a superficial excuse to wage a campaign aimed at crippling the bars in the "camptowns" such as Songtan, Kunsan's A-town, Itaewon, Uijongbu and Tongduchon. Gen LaPorte reported to Congress in 2004 that "curfew violations" was an "enforcement tool" for dealing with sex trade. In Jan 2005, Yongsan authorities had a meeting with Itaewon bar owners to air their grievances. Among the first issues brought up at the meeting was revising curfew times. Bar owners like Kim Sam-sook, owner of Shooters and Grand Ole Opry bars, claimed the current curfew was starting to affect her business in a very negative way. She and others asked for the time to be extended an additional hour. "This is a life or death situation for us," Kim said. "We must have another hour on the curfew." The midnight curfew, which was one hour shorter than the curfew maintained for most of 2004.
But the standard response that came back was: "We (Area II Support Activity) will continue to work with the senior levels (of leadership in USFK) with the curfew issue. Due to current force protection level requirements, the curfew will remain in effect." This same question was asked throughout Korea at all bases/camps and the local bar owners all received the same response.
In March 2005, Rep Christopher Smith who started the ball rolling in 2002 on targeting the military was at it again. An article from the Navy/Air Force/Marine Times on 8 Mar 2005 stated that he wanted the Uniform Code of Military Justice amended to include a specific mention of sex trafficking as an offense and wanted the Pentagon to appoint a high-level official to coordinate anti-trafficking policies. However, changing the UCMJ and creating a new Pentagon office on human trafficking are issues under the purview of the House Armed Services Committee -- and NOT under Smith's jurisdiction as head of the House International Relations Committee's panel that oversees global human rights.
Many military and civilians started to openly criticize this curfew policy in Letters to the Editor of the Stars and Stripes. It was becoming readily apparent that the "force protection" reasoning for the extended curfew hours could NOT be justified. The USFK claimed it was because the Embassy had issued a terrorist activity warning, while the US Embassy denied such a statement. The curfew was viewed as a thinly veiled excuse to keep the GIs from the bars as part of a USFK "morality" campaign -- NOT as a "force protection" measure.
The curfew remained in effect from Sep 2004 - Mar 2005 but was revised supposedly because of the reduced force protection posture. However, it was apparent that the real reason was the mounting public discontent with the curfew from DoD civilians and contractors -- along with the fact that EVERY Congressman got a letter on the situation from the civilians. After the Federal Employees' union at Camp Humphreys filled for "curfew backpay," the curfew for civilians was rescinded soon thereafter. SEE THE NEXT ARTICLE FOR CONTINUATION (Curfew Issue (Apr 2005)).
However, the bar owners had already started to fight back in their typical low-key manner. First the beer prices at Uijongbu increased in Jan 2005 -- followed by the rest of Korea camptowns. Next Korean newspaper stories started to appear with derogatory information about the USFK soldiers or base/camp procedures based on "anonymous" sources -- who could only have been individuals involved in the bar trade. Next there were reports that many of the bars in Uijongbu had opened their bars to Koreans after the curfew hours to make up for lost income entailed by income. Then there were assault incidents that occurred in Uijongbu between soldiers and taxi drivers and civilians that made the Korean headlines. Next there was an accident where a woman was jay-walking and run over by a military vehicle whose driver did not see her. An outbreak of anti-Americanism such as in 2002 was feared. The push on the zero-tolerance campaign became low-key in the 2nd ID areas. Then the "poop hit the fan" when a USAF officer in charge of the Osan Town Patrol was arrested and confined at Camp Humphreys for alleged shakedown activities and rape charges. SEE ARTICLE FOR CONTINUATION (Allegations of Town Patrol Shaking Down Songtan Bar Owners (Mar 2005)).
For the past three years, only the USFK has actively pursued the prostitution problem -- with other commands simply paying lip service to the problem. Human Rights groups laud Gen Laporte for his aggressive actions to combat human trafficking by his attacks on prostitution in Korea. (See Gen LaPorte's Testimony to Congress on 21 Sep 2004 for background.)
Gen LaPorte and Ambassador Hubbard (27 Nov 2002)
Camp Humphreys Anti-Prostitution Campaign (Mar-Oct 2005)
Col. Michael J. Taliento, commander of the Area III Support Activity, pursued an aggressive campaign to stop prostitution and human trafficking in the Anjeong-ni area. Then in Mar 2005 the authorities at Camp Humphreys got the bar owners to "agree" to snitch on each other if there was any of them engaged in promoting prostitution. They also promised to fire any employee that engaged in prostitution. This made the headlines in the Stars and Stripes. However, this type of Korean action is something that is completely out of character for ANY Korean which values group cohesiveness as a primary Confucian value. Many suspected it was obtained by coercion -- through heavy-handed threats of off-limits sanctions. The ROK media did not even touch the story. (SITE NOTE: We may not agree with his methods, but we have to admire the Colonel for having the "brass cajones" to stand up and be counted on the Prostitution issue.)
After the Shakedown Scandal, the USFK campaign remained low key. Though the Osan and Uijongbu areas actions were muted, at Camp Humphreys, in August 2005 Col. Taliento set up a "sting operation" and sent in an undercover CID person posing as an underage soldier to get drinks at the bars. He then put 12 clubs off-limits in a blanket off-limits sanction.
(SITE NOTE: If USFK drinking age policy matched the Korean law, then we wouldn't have a gripe. However, this is an AMERICAN rule being forced onto KOREAN bar owners in the SOVEREIGN COUNTRY OF KOREA. If the USFK wants to enforce its rules off-base, it should provide an ID checker at every on-limits bar in Korea. Of course, this suggestion is ridiculous -- but not any more ridiculous than the US being the Ugly American in shoving its rules down Korean businesses throats left with no other option other than to acquiesce if they want to survive.)
The bar owners were faced with financial ruin and bent to Col. Taliento's will -- even though the matter actually dealt with a USFK authority dictating to KOREAN businesses operating on KOREAN soil under KOREAN government regulations that they must enforce USFK policy that is legal under KOREAN law. The merchants opinion is rightly reflected in a flyer put out by the local merchants after the off-limits sanctions.
To our valued customers:
We are very sorry we cannot serve you at this time.
Because of the actions of a few underage servicemembers who were unable to be controlled by their military leadership, many of the local businesses have been punished.
We hope this situation can be quickly resolved so we can once again serve all of you who work so hard and should be able to play hard as well.
The Businesses of Anjeong-ri
What really angered the merchants was the blanket off-limits action by Col Taliento. This is an area that anti-American activists quickly pointed out and incorporated into their protests. In reaction to the off-limits sanctions, Kim Ki-ho, president of the Anjeong-ri Merchants Association, said merchants were so angered they hung a banner in the heart of the bar district to protest the move. "Commander Michael J. Taliento Jr., You go back to Afghanistan again," the banner read. Taliento served in Afghanistan before taking command of the Area III Support Activity at Camp Humphreys in June 2004. (Source: Stars and Stripes, 18 Aug 2005)
He was NOT viewed as a friend in the local community -- and the anti-American groups picked up on this. The following is a comment from "Bass Hole" by an American of the situation in Anjeong-ni at the time:
The Anjeong-ri residents are having none of it and all joined together last night in a rare show of solidarity to shut the town down. They also hung a huge banner at the top of the street near the walk-through gate, which clearly expresses their opinion of the situation. Last night was eerie. The bar owners and the MP's were almost the only ones out on the streets. CP's patrolled in small groups and were scouled at by the residents. On every corner there were groups huddling and whispering. Some of the few Americans out were being challenged by the Koreans. Most of them sympathised with the bar owners. Anti-American comments and insults were cast inside the restaurant where my wife and I were getting dinner. We were only allowed to be served after Mr. Kim, the flower shop owner, and Teddy Bear salesman intervened and told them to serve us. What a difference a day makes... The atmosphere was dark and very unfriendly. If I had not recognized so many bar owner friends I would have been nervous. None seemed happy to see me, and many let me know their opinions without mincing words. (Source: Bass Hole)..."
The bars -- faced with financial ruin -- were forced to agree to ID checks for under-age GIs under USFK rules on 19 Aug -- even though it is legal in Korea for these soldiers to drink under KOREAN law. (NOTE: USFK policy forbids drinking by servicemembers younger than 21, while South Korea's legal drinking age is 20.) The bar owners promised to install closed-circuit cameras to monitor bar transactions, post "No Minors" signs in each establishment's windows or entrance, check servicemember identification cards to weed out prospective underage drinkers, and call South Korean or U.S. military police if ID checks turned contentious. (Source: Stars and Stripes, 27 Aug 2005)
After the agreement, the Merchants Association tried to put a "smiley face" on the situation by putting up a large banner that said, "We love you Commander Taliento...etc..., the residents." However, there was still a lot of tension at Camp Humphreys as of Sep 2005.
Taliento lost a lot of goodwill in this run to enforce USFK policy. In Nov 2004, he said he would assist the USFK partly by forging close relationships with Korean officials, civic leaders, clergy and other members of the Korean public of the changes to the area over the moves to the area. The aim, he said, was to "sensitize, inform, educate the community at large about the changes that are occurring and that will occur at Camp Humphreys and Area III." (Source: Stars and Stripes, 29 Nov 2004)
At Camp Humphreys, Col. Taliento started the base's first Good Neighbor Awards program, one that recognizes Koreans and Americans whose actions promote good relations between the U.S. military and the South Korean public in July 2005. (Source: Stars and Stripes, 5 Jul 2005) However, his actions in the bar area has made his job even more difficult.
Following the crackdown on under-age drinking at Camp Humphreys in August, the camp authorities got the clubs to AGAIN "vow" to crack down on prostitution. Now the Anjeong-ni clubs "will fire bar workers who engage in prostitution as well as any of the "entertainment" agencies that provide female bar employees who might later take part in the sex traffic, the head of a local merchants group said Friday. The merchants also will fire any worker selling alcohol to underage U.S. servicemembers, said Kim Ki-ho, merchants association president in Anjung-ri, the Pyeongtaek City district in which Camp Humphreys is located." (Source: Stars and Stripes, 28 Aug 2005.)
(PERSONAL NOTE: At the "training session" for bar-owners and bar-girls held at the Empire Hotel in Anjeong-ni on 26 Oct 2005, Col Taliento stated his commitment to curtail underage drinking by U.S. servicemembers -- but his "commitment" is extending into the law enforcement area of the Korean National Police where it is legal. Taliento distributed "special calendars a club CAN display the calendar near the bar, adjusting it daily to show the date a U.S. servicemember would have to have been born to meet USFK's legal drinking age of 21." (Source: Stars and Stripes on 27 Oct 2005.)
To cut through the crud -- Col Taliento has FORCED the clubs (under threat of off-limits sanctions) to commit to THEIR monetary expenditures (time and manning costs) to enforce a USFK policy in the SOVEREIGN NATION OF KOREA. In speaking with a few community leaders in the Shinjang Mall area, it appears that my viewpoint is echoed by them.
Map of Anjeong-ni
In Oct 2005, Col Taliento and the Anjeong-ni area was back in the news. According to the Stars and Stripes on 22 Oct 2005, the owner and staff of an off-limits Top Hat Club outside Camp Humphreys must attend a "training session" -- to be held at a local off-base hotel -- about prostitution and human trafficking if they want the ban lifted.
Allegedly undercover "police" caught two female employees offering themselves for prostitution. The undercover "police" were supposedly members of a "joint crime suppression team" of U.S. military and South Korean police. The women allegedly offered themselves to officers in an arrangement in which customers pay management in exchange for the women spending the night with them. The practice is "indicative of establishments that participate in prostitution or human trafficking." The owner denied the women had offered to sell their nights off. Instead, the owner contended the women had offered their night to the officers starting from when the club closed. Area III has since drafted another letter stating that the owner and all club employees must attend a training session about prostitution and human trafficking before they would consider removing them from the off-limits listing.
PERSONAL NOTE (25 Oct 2005): First, we find this strange that a club would engage in "bar-fining" again when in a small bar town such as Anjeong-ni where such a practice would IMMEDIATELY become common knowledge to all. It does not compute that a bar owner would be so stupid in his greed to reinitiate "bar fining" with the other bar owners watching fearfully of an enmasse off-limits action by Col Taliento. The other bar owners would have immediately come down on the bar on their own for self-preservation's sake.
Secondly, since bar-fining disappeared, it has become common practice throughout the peninsula to arrange for "dates" on the bar girl's day off without the bar involvement -- or to arrange for liaisons AFTER the bars have closed. This is a return to the "old system" where the bar is not involved. Col Taliento cannot control it. The bar girls did solicit the men for an after-work liaison is not disputed, but it just doesn't make sense why a bar would start "bar-fining" again when all the bar owners feared the action that might place ALL Anjeong-ni the bars off-limits. It would have been stupid beyond all belief for the Top Hat bar to once again engage in "bar-fining" as is alleged by the Camp Humphreys.
Thirdly, this "novel" approach now traps the bar into deporting the women for prostitution on the word of the USFK "sting" officers -- WITHOUT the involvement of the ROK police in arresting the women for prostitution. (NOTE: We assume these are "foreign" bar girls (Filipinas) involved. If they were Koreans, the Camp Humphreys authorities would not have a leg to stand on as they operate as "business women" -- not bar girls.) There was no OFFICIAL action by the Korean National Police (KNP) that prostitution occurred -- only the vague reference to it being a "joint crime suppression" action. (NOTE: The larger camps and bases have KNP personnel assigned to accompany "raids" or react to problems that involve Korean nationals. However, if the KNP are not present during the "crime," they cannot act.) However, by a previous Aug 2005 agreement with Camp Humphreys, the bar owner would have to revoke the contract on any bar girl who engages in prostitution. In this case, the "proof" is form of the Camp Humphreys' allegation. Again something does not smell right.
The Top Hat Club owner admitted the women did seek a liaison with the "undercover GIs" for hours AFTER the bar closed, but claimed the women did this without the bar involvement. However, the Camp Humphreys authorities uses vaguely worded sentences ("indicative of..." or "can be") to PROVE that they did.
At the "training session" on 26 October 2005, Area III officials reminded club owners that when "credible" evidence, such as that obtained by undercover police, indicates a club has been supporting prostitution or human trafficking, Area III would place the business off-limits to U.S. personnel, in keeping with USFK policy. On all the Osan/Songtan Yahoo newsgroups, Filipinas make announcements that they are going to be in the area on certain days and want to arrange a date.
(SITE NOTE: We seriously question the "sting operations" that have occurred in the Anjeong-ni area that appear to be USFK instigated -- though the Col Taliento as the Area III commander stated they were part of a "joint crime prevention program" with the KNP. These "sting operations" involve entrapment. The tacky part of these "sting" operations is that they take place OFF-BASE and it is the purview of the ROK as a SOVEREIGN nation -- not the USFK. The law enforcement authority is the Korean National Police -- not the Area Commander.
In addition, Korean courts recently showed through a sequence of rulings that entrapment, if proven, would invalidate any follow-on criminal indictments and, more importantly, how entrapment defenses will be handled. As generally known, sting operations are often used in criminal investigations to catch suspects who would not otherwise be caught due to the secretive nature of certain crimes, such as espionage, bribery and drug trafficking. But, sting operations don't always result in punishment, especially when suspects can prove entrapment, and the breadth of permissible sting operations varies around the globe. Korea now has a clear judicial precedent to show what impact on criminal justice entrapment defenses may have.
A recent case involved the importation of methamphetamines in which the defendants argued they had been asked by a prosecution informer to purchase the drugs in China and bring them back in order to assist law enforcement efforts. In January 2004 the Seoul High Court, during an appeal, upheld that the defendants were guilty even considering the existence of evidence showing that they were actually contacted by a public prosecutor office's informant, that they were possibly persuaded to believe that their assistance was necessary to make an "operation" successful and that they had no criminal intent. The defendants then appealed to the highest court. The Supreme Court ruled in May 2004 in favor of the defendants, pointing out that entrapment may have been involved in inducing the defendants to commit the crime. The Supreme Court remanded the case back to the High Court to review competing versions of the facts, pointing out that the lower court overlooked the weight of some evidence favorable to the defense, such as records allegedly showing the investigating officer's transfer of drug purchasing money through intermediaries to one of the defendants. Having dealt again with the entrapment argument, the High Court found the defendants' version to be more trustworthy, saying that prosecutor's case for the defendants' independent intent to commit the crime was less persuasive. In January 2005 the High Court voided the criminal indictment due to a violation of the criminal procedure law. Although the prosecutor appealed, the ruling was finally approved by the Supreme Court in October 2005. (Source: Korea Herald.)
The bottomline of this legal jargon is that the entrapment defense is now understood as a means by which courts can maintain the legality of criminal investigations and the integrity of the criminal justice system. If the Camp Humphreys' "sting operations" in Korea continue, there are serious legal questions that may arise over the "entrapment" issue as the GIs are offering enticements -- and providing opportunities to commit a crime. It can get sticky in a hurry...
What bothers us the most is that WITHOUT KOREAN CORROBORATION, the USFK-obtained "credible" evidence to support USFK case for a unilateral USFK off-limits sanction dealing with KOREAN businesses operating on KOREAN soil regulated by the KOREAN government and governed by KOREAN laws and policed by the KOREAN National Police and KOREAN Immigration Service.
The "proof" of "credible" evidence has to be if the KNP were involved when the "solicitation" took place on KOREAN soil. They would have arrested the women -- or at least filed a report. It appears no such KOREAN action seems to have taken place. Thus the conclusion is that this was a "sting" operation where USFK authorities were operating off-base alone at the time -- and then attempted to white-wash it with the term of a "joint crime suppression operation." However, the KNP report was still missing. The bottomline is that it appears that NO CRIME TOOK PLACE unless a KNP report was filed.
This case of prostitution falls under the NEW Korean anti-prostitution law (July 2004) so we wonder why the KNP is taking NO action -- or is it because they don't want to touch this? If the bar girls are prostitutes, they fall under the KNP jurisdiction -- and it seems the KNP doesn't want to touch this bucket of worms as it then gets embroiled with the Immigration authorities under the Ministry of Justice. We are not saying the base has "rigged" the evidence -- only perhaps that it is "interpreting" it to support their new agenda and the KNP does not seem to be supporting their "interpretation."
We believe Camp Humphreys is attempting to control something over which they really have no control. The problem with off-limits sanctions is that the sanctions are against clubs -- NOT against individuals. Bar girls who work in clubs -- but are prostitutes away from the club -- are beyond the camp authorities' controls. The sanctions do not apply to individuals. This whole scenario doesn't smell right. Luckily, NGO activist groups won't touch this case as it does not have any of the sensationalism required to throw mud at the Camp Humphreys authorities.
Finally, supposedly Camp Humphreys "trains" its soldiers to NOT solicit bar workers for prostitution. If this training of soldiers to not solicit were effective, there would be no need for these "sting" operations. In other words, it is obvious that Camp Humphreys' "training program" is a failure. What Col Taliento is doing is attempting to shift the blame to the prostitute -- instead of the faulting the customer (soldier). At the "training session" for bar workers on 26 Oct in Anjeong-ni, Col Taliento stated, "Camp Humphreys officials "have the responsibility to train, and we do train" U.S. servicemembers to steer clear of prostitution and human trafficking. Camp Humphreys needs to once again start to "retrain" its soldiers because it is obvious that the previous "anti-prostitution training" didn't sink in.
According to the Stars and Stripes on 27 Oct 2005 the Area III, Pyeongtaek officials provided training for club owners on laws regarding prostitution and human trafficking at the Empire Hotel in Anjeong-ni. According to the report, "Female bar workers from the Philippines broke into sudden applause Monday when a U.S. military official told local bar owners and workers that South Korean law forbids taking away foreign workers' passports. "Yes! Yes!" some of the women exclaimed during a brief but sharp wave of applause..."
About 15 of Anjung-ri's clubs are licensed to employ foreigners. Almost all their female workers "about 90 to 100" are from the Philippines, Kim Ki-ho, Anjung-ri Merchants Association president, said. They urged female workers who believe they are being coerced into prostitution or human trafficking to contact authorities. In the article, "One female bar worker, who gave her name as Christine, said afterward that she thought the session could help "little bit." But she questioned whether club owners would apply what they heard. "They listen, but once we're in the club..." she said, waving her hand dismissively." THIS IS THE REALITY.
(PERSONAL NOTE: Too bad the bar owners were too stupid to realize that for the PAST 15 YEARS their practice of keeping the passports of foreign employees to prevent them from running away was illegal. (SARCASM) The 138,000 illegal aliens residing in the country who ran away (or disappeared after entering on a tourist visa) was no excuse. According to "law enforcement authorities" (USFK), "Withholding employees' passports can be a sign of a club owner involved in prostitution and trafficking." So the next step is that Camp Humphreys will interpret "can be" as meaning "is" and use it as "proof" of prostitution.
Too bad the incompetent ROK police who have the responsibility to enforce this KOREAN LAW have not done so for the PAST 15 YEARS -- and the ROK authorities should be grateful that the Camp Humphreys' "law enforcement authorities" had a "training session" to point out the fact of the Korean National Police and the Ministry of Justice's Immigration Service were either lazy or incompetent -- or corrupt. (SARCASM)
Too bad the Filipina bar girls were too stupid to realize that Col. Taliento called them a bunch of prostitutes who were in Korea as a result of human trafficking -- directly to their faces. The fact that they were forced to attend the "training session" as a result of their being proven guilty by association attests to this fact. (SARCASM)
Col Taliento is NOT acting without higher authority. There is a USFK brigadier general with offices at Camp Humphreys in charge of the smooth transition of Yongsan and 2d ID forces to Camp Humphreys -- and would be apprised of these actions as it involves community relations. After the anti-Camp Humphrey outburst in Aug 2005, he would certainly be in the middle of this -- though not necessarily in the decision-making chain. Col. Taliento is doing these actions -- and continues to do these actions with the wide-spread publicity in the Stars and Stripes and official information sources -- with the tacit approval of the USFK hierarchy.
We feel that a major libel suit is brewing over this matter of what Col Taliento deems "credible" evidence. If the Camp Humphreys' officials continue with their off-base operations WITHOUT DIRECT Korean National Police involvement in arrests under KOREAN law, the USFK is opening itself for major legal suits. The bar owners are regulated under Korean government regulations and therefore, under their auspices. No one wants this, but the actions of Col. Taliento is leading in this direction. (NOTE: In speaking with Korean businessmen in the Shinjang Mall area, it appears that this same sentiment is reflected by many of them.)