Korea: Soldiers warned about prostitution crackdown near Yongsan Garrison

By Jimmy Norris and Hwang Hae-rym, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Thursday, September 11, 2008

SEOUL — South Korean police are planning a major prostitution crackdown in areas near the U.S. Army’s Yongsan Garrison.

Yongsan police confirmed Tuesday they had received instructions from the Central Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency to conduct crackdowns in the “glass house” area near Yongsan Station and on Itaewon’s infamous Hooker Hill.

A Yongsan police spokesman said Tuesday they should start raiding brothels shortly after the Chuseok holidays this weekend.

“We expect efforts to clear up the prostitution this time will be a lot tougher and stronger than ever before,” the spokesman said.

“The Central Police Agency is determined to root out the prostitution.”

The spokesman said U.S. troops should avoid the areas to keep from getting caught up in the upcoming raids.

U.S. Forces Korea spokesman Dave Palmer said the command has received no official warning of the planned crackdowns.

“We obviously support any initiatives [the police] come up with,” Palmer said. “We’re happy they’re taking action.”

Police said riot squads, normally used to put down illegal protests, will take up the work of closing down brothels and illegal gambling operations as the summer protest season winds down.

Brothel owners have already struck back after a series of raids in the Dongdaemun area put many out of business. On Monday, some owners released a list of police officers they claim have taken bribes, and threatened to release more names if the crackdowns continue.

Police said Tuesday that they welcome the list as an opportunity to weed out corruption.



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