By Lee Hyo-sik
Nearly 50,000 police officers have descended on southern Seoul over the past week to ensure that the ongoing G20 Seoul summit at Coex proceeds without any problems.
The larger-than-usual police presence is dampening business for the illegal entertainment establishments in the area where hundreds of room salons, massage parlors and similar places operate, with many men reluctant to enjoy nightlife there surrounded by so many cops.
Room salons are drinking establishments where men partner with hostesses who serve drinks and sometimes perform ``other’’ services.
Police officers patrol streets at night to inspect buildings and other structures for possible security risks, and randomly stop pedestrians to check their IDs. Additionally, most rooms at motels and other affordable lodging facilities frequently used by men buying sex have been reserved by the police.
As a result the men are going north to the other side of the Han River to drink and to take advantage of the entertainment services there, where a police crackdown is less likely for now.
An employee at a room salon near Seonneung subway station said policemen have been everywhere in southern Seoul every night for the past week. ``They are around to beef up security for the G20 meeting, not to clamp down on us. But with a larger police presence, who would dare to come into our place? We will remain open for business on Nov. 11-12. But I do not think there will be many customers.’’ He also said many companies along the Teheran Street asked employees to refrain from going out to drink at night after work.
A female worker at another establishment said many hostesses have decided to take a break from work both on Thursday and Friday, adding her employer will likely suffer a sharp decline in revenue.
With more police officers patrolling the streets, the number of advertizing flyers scattered on the streets by ``Kiss’’ room salons, massage parlors and other nightlife establishments near Seonneung and other subway stations in the area have decreased over the past few days, according to the Gangnam District Office.
However, entertainment establishments in northern Seoul have been crowded with many more customers over the past week, benefiting from their southern counterpart under police patrols.
An employee at a room salon near Seoul subway station said the number of hostesses working there jumped recently. ``Many hostesses usually move from one place to another to find work. These days, they are crossing the Han River to the north as establishments in Gangnam struggle with fewer customers.’’
He said his establishment began offering special discounts to attract more regular clients. ``But after the G20 summit ends, Gangnam will recover fast.’’