The JoongAng Ilbo reports that clubs in the Hongdae area are divided over whether to accept US military personnel into their establishments.
The JoongAng went to Hongdae last Saturday to look around. On one poster advertising “Club Day” was written “No entry for US military or minors.” A staffer checking IDs at one club that belonged to the Club Culture Association said since the recent sexual assaults by GIs, they’ve been cracking down more strongly against GIs entering the clubs. And indeed, the reporter didn’t see any GIs.
At another club belonging to the association, however, there were a lot of foreigners. Even a short-haired white dude who looked like a soldier got in easily. A staffer their said they don’t block GIs from entering, and GIs have never started trouble in their club.
Unlike the clubs of Itaewon and Gangnam, the clubs of Hongdae have banned GIs since November 2002. This, according to the JoongAng Ilbo, was because crimes committed by GIs climbed as more and more GIs went to Hongdae after its club culture caught on. Choe Jeong-han, the chairman of the Club Culture Association, told the JoongAng that there were too many crimes committed by GIs like sexual assaults and sexual harassment, and there was a sense of crisis that the entire neighborhood could collapse if things continued. Choe said all roughly 10 clubs that are members of the association agreed to ban GIs.
Tensions between clubs began from last year. As the Hongdae area grew, dance clubs unaffiliated with the Club Culture Association began mushrooming. When they began accepting GIs, it had an impact on the association’s clubs. The ban on GIs, which was initially mandatory, became an advisory. Choe said some club owners began expressing skepticism about the ban, saying it only hurt them (i.e., clubs in the association). He said from next months, some dance clubs would split off and form their own group, and he was concerned about how well they might enforce the GI ban.
Shockingly, most of the young folk the JoongAng met on the street liked the ban. One 20-year-old dude said drunk GIs would sometimes curse at people and pick fights, and since nothing good comes of running into them, it was best to avoid them. A 20-year-old girl said after seeing the news about the GI assault on the girl student, she felt somewhat uncomfortable, and that since Hongdae was the only place people could go to listen to music and dance, it was best to keep the ban on.
Marmot’s Note: Somehow, I get the feeling this ban on good, hardworking foreigners won’t find itself before the National Human Rights Commission. And not to get into this again, but I think the clubs should be free to ban whoever they like, and you certainly won’t hear me defend loutish behavior from GIs, but if sexual crime is a concern, the GIs might be the least of your worries, judging by some of the headlines I’ve been seeing recently…