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‘Red Light’ Moniker Upsets

Posted May. 01, 2006 03:34,   


“I am embarrassed that our department store seems to be located at the center of a decadent entertainment business area.”

An official of the Lotte Department Store Changwon branch in Sangnam-dong, Changwon City, South Gyeongsang Province mentioned the above, saying, “I don’t understand why it was named the neighborhood of Lotte Department Store, rather than Sangnam Commercial District.”

The National Police Agency’s (NPA) designation of a “Sex Trade Red Flag Area” (STRFA) near the department store on April 27 has led to much displeasure and concern.

The reason is because a large number of buildings quoted as being in the center of the red flag area are far off the entertainment places area, and some amusement quarters were branded as “decadent areas” based only on the number of entertainment parlors.

The number of STRFA is 24 nationwide.

However, most the red flag areas designated by the NPA have few entertainment parlors in the neighborhoods.

NPA announced that there were 469 entertainment places around the Lotte Department Store in Changwon, but that the actual entertainment parlors are 300 to 500 meters away from the department store.

Yongjeon-dong bus terminal in Dong-gu, Daejeon, is in the same situation.

The neighborhood of the terminal is a residential area and the entertainment parlor area is across the terminal.

There are many unacceptable red flag area classifications based only on the number of entertainment parlors.

Seongseo police station, a Catholic church, three primary-middle schools, a large wholesale shop, Daegu Public Procurement Service (DPPS), and other establishments are within a one-kilometer radius of Shopping World in Yigok-dong, Dalseo-gu, Daegu. According to a DPPS official, although these places have singing rooms and karaoke bars in the neighborhood, they are not sex trade parlors.

The Lotte Department Store area in Bujeon-dong, Busan, and Rodeo-street area in Guwol-dong, Incheon are typical commercial centers where large department stores and shopping centers are located like Myeongdong in Seoul. Naturally, there are many places for young people, including game rooms, singing rooms, video rooms, and so on, which led the NPA to classify these areas as red flag areas.

There is much displeasure over Samsan-dong bus terminal area in Nam-gu, Ulsan, which was pointed out as one of the most “disorderly places” among red flag areas. The NPA announced that a total of 1,029 amusement places were clustered around the Samsan-dong bus terminal, about double the number in the Shinjeju market area (555 amusement places), which ranked second in the number of amusement places among red flag areas.

However, a Nam-gu Office official said, “It is true that the Samsan-dong bus terminal area has many entertainment places. But many room salons and nightclubs have gone bankrupt in succession since two to three years ago, and the number of entertainment places has fallen by half.”

Municipal police agency officials pointed out that “it is unreasonable that the NPA arbitrarily designated commercial areas as red flag areas based on the number of entertainment places they contained.”

An NPA official explained that “landmark buildings and famous brand names were just used to improve public awareness of red flag areas, but some differences between actual and designated areas may have happened.”

Jae-Myoung Lee Jeong-Hoon Kang egija@donga.com manman@donga.com