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Gangnam-Style Brothel Raided by Korean Police

Alexander Besant and Geoffrey Cain
Monday, 21 Jan 2013 | 9:45 PM ET
Kactus | Photographer's Choice | Getty Images

A nine-story brothel in the now famous upscale Gangnam neighborhood in Seoul, South Korea, was raided by police on Monday.

Yes, that's the same Gangnam of Psy fame.

Officers said they discovered 100 prostitutes working on the various floors. The brothel was fronted by a bar and hotel where the women worked officially as "hostesses."

GlobalPost's senior correspondent for East Asia, Geoffrey Cain, reports that the brothel was in a ward of Gangnam called Samseong-dong, not far from the main drag of lively restaurants and shops.

Cain said that "Gangnam is known for decadence, even though it's not a red light district."

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In 2009, the first Korean swingers' club — at least, the first public venue — went live, leaving police perplexed as to how to crack down in a conservative society. Ever so often, a story of Gangnam debauchery makes its way through the Korean tabloids.

The Korea Times reported that the multi-level complex, included a bar where customers would be served by the women and choose one.

The customers were then taken to the upper floors, paying about $310 for sex with the women.

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"It's not common for a hostess bar and a hotel to be located in the same building," police said, according to the Korea Times.

"We're trying to find out whether the operator of the two places is the same person and if so, we'll look into whether the person ran both places on the same site for the purpose of prostitution."

ROK Drop said the brothel had been operating for about two years before the raid.

UPI reported that the owners earned about $220,000 a day from the complex.

Prostitution is outlawed in South Korea, but police tolerate its presence in Seoul and most other cities, according to Cain.

He said that the laissez-faire attitude could have roots in the strange role of prostitution in Korean history.

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Park Chung-hee, the dictator from 1961 to 1979, banned sex work, but his government encouraged some Korean women to enter the trade to boost commerce in this once-poor country. Many of the prostitutes catered to American soldiers. Talk about bringing glory to the fatherland?

Estimates by the Korean Women's Development Institute say that it is a $13 billion industry accounting for over one percent of GDP.

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