Michael Moore, the Hill needs youIf you’ve been reading the local news lately, you might have noticed the kerfuffle about the new anti-prostitution law, and wondered whether it would have any effect on Itaewon.
The answer, according to the word on the street, is no. Nevertheless, the voices on said street produced many other complaints, and at least one juicy conspiracy theory.
The new law targets Seoul’s hard-core prostitution zones, such as Mia-Samgeori and Cheongnyangni. Visit these places now, if you dare (this columnist doesn’t), look behind the display cases where the girls are supposed to be, and you’ll see none. Look up, though, and you’ll see big banners with which the hookers defy the police (and the facts) with the battle cry, “You can’t shut us down!”
Back in Itaewon, the new law did scare away a few sex workers, who left town just before the crackdown was to commence. The rest, though, say the Korean cops have done little or no cracking down. Any enforcement efforts, it seems, have been perfunctory or bumbling.
One bar owner said the Korean police put the heat on for about a week, but haven’t bothered her since. At another bar, a girl said undercover cops have come in from time to time, but that the girls can smell their act from a mile away.
Others, unworried about the Korean police, complain instead about the American military police. They say more and more MPs are on the beat, disturbing their business and scaring off customers.
One girl, who runs a bar halfway up Hooker Hill, has an interesting theory about the heavier MP presence ― one that implicates not only the U.S. military, but stateside businessmen and politicians all the way up to President George W. Bush.
Noting that the crackdown coincided with the U.S. presidential election, she posits that the new law was not, as is commonly believed, engineered by high-minded Koreans to cure a social ill, but by the U.S. government, to further its economic interests.
She explained, quite rightly, that former President Park Chung Hee used to encourage Koreans to work as prostitutes for U.S. troops, so that GI pay that would otherwise go overseas would stay in the Korean economy.
You can’t argue with her about the timing; the crackdown did occur just as Bush was getting re-elected. And she’s right about President Park, who praised prostitutes working near U.S. bases as patriots. And there’s no doubt that the USFK would prefer that its troops spend their money on, say, Playboy magazine subscriptions instead of prostitutes.
It gets worse: Playboy’s founder, Hugh Hefner, has provable connections to the Bush-led Republican Party, and may even be a Republican himself. Hopefully the American filmmaker Michael Moore will spread knowledge of these verities. Perhaps he’ll include them in the sequel to “Fahrenheit 9/11.”
by Mike Ferrin