Thursday, July 7, 2011

Soth Korean Prostitutes threaten to burn themselves to save brothel

I wanted to call them whores in the header, but I got to be careful of offending the massses.

SEOUL, South KoreaThe pimps and prostitutes of Yeongdeungpo start the day as if preparing for a siege, stocking their brothels with flammable liquid and gas containers. Large, red-lettered signs warn police that they’re willing to die to protect their livelihoods. “We can turn on the gas and light the flames,” said a 47-year-old pimp who would only give her surname Sohn. “We know that we don’t have much chance of winning … but we’re ready to die fighting.” Nearly seven years after tough laws began driving thousands of South Korean prostitutes out of business, the sex workers of the Yeongdeungpo red-light district in Seoul are fighting back, spurred by what they say is an unprecedented campaign of police harassment. Since April they’ve staged large, sometimes violent, protests that provide a glimpse of the tensions in this fast-changing country as ambitious urban redevelopment projects encroach on old neighborhoods once known for their nightlife. The district’s 40 to 50 prostitutes describe their fight in life-and-death terms. At a recent protest, about 20 topless women covered in body and face paint doused themselves in flammable liquid and had to be restrained from setting themselves on fire. “We are the people who eat, sleep and live here. Where can we move?” prostitute Jang Se-hee said in an interview inside a large tent where sex workers were discussing how to resist police. The 36-year-old Jang, who wore big sunglasses with plum-colored lenses, her hair tied up in a bun, said her earnings have plunged from as much as $9,200 a month to about $3,700 since police began harrying the brothels in April.

Ladies of the night indeed, I hope they look a hell of a lot better at night anyway, looking like extras from some fucked up Goth movie.


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