YTN’s program YTN 8585 is claiming that USFK is forcibly investigating Korean merchants operating near US bases in Korea. Even though USFK lacks the legal basis to launch these investigations, merchants have no choice to agree lest they suffer disadvantages as a result (like being declared off-limits).

The YTN reporters talked to a Mr. Choe, who runs a club in front of the US base in Osan. Choe apparently got a call from the base telling him to come to the base because they had something to investigate. He went on base, and was subject to a one-on-one questioning in a small, windowless interrogation room with a door you couldn’t open without asking through an interphone. Very frightening stuff.

Without any evidence whatsoever, the USFK investigator pressed Choe about whether his club had provided prostitution services to US servicemen.

Choe was not the only one subject to this questioning; other business owners were as well.

A business owner by the name of Mr. Jang complained to YTN that this was Korea, and he was surprised by how far his rights and Korea’s sovereignty could be ignored.

According to SOFA, USFK has no independent investigative authority over Korean civilians. What this means, suggests YTN, is that USFK has overstepped its authority. And they found some guy from Minbyun to say as much.

What is forcing these business owners to agree to USFK’s random investigations is the threat of being placed “off-limits.” By banning US servicemen from entering certain businesses, USFK is placing what amounts to a business suspensions on bars ad clubs that depend on GIs for business.

Another business owner, a Mr. Seo, complained that somebody at USFK who thinks he can place whoever he likes off-limits with the stroke of a pen, and that Korean employees who have heard this were creeped out.

USFK, meanwhile, initially said there were no illegal one-on-one investigations, but later changed its story to there was no compulsion involved.

They got a USFK official on record saying found it difficult to believe there were one-on-one investigations going on in interrogation rooms, but a day later saying USFK had asked for info from local Koreans to investigation US servicemen.

The YTN program concludes by reminding us that a USFK commander had apologized after US MPs put Korean civilians in handcuffs, but USFK’s highhanded behavior continues with baseless investigations of Korean civilians at US bases.

Marmot’s Note: Look, as far as I can tell, there is no compulsion—the business owners are free to tell USFK to fuck off, and USFK is free to ban its own men from visiting certain clubs.

Having said that, I have to be honest—doesn’t USFK have better things to do than making sure its personnel aren’t paying for sex? I personally find Osaka mayor Toru Hashimoto’s views about the comfort women objectionable, but I think he probably had a point when he advised US Marines in Okinawa to make better use of local adult entertainers. Why should the State Department and Secret Service have all the fun? Granted, prostitution in technically illegal in Korea (stop laughing, damn it!), but shouldn’t the people doing the enforcing be the KNP, not USFK?