The Real Moral Scourge on South Korean Society Is Room Salons
South Korea places a high value on morality. South Korea is unforgiving when it comes to immoral behaviour, as evidenced by Enes Kaya’s TV fall from grace over an alleged adultery to pop star Yoo Seung-apparent jun’s avoidance of his military duty. Christian organisations voiced opposition to the most recent gay pride festival, stating that they were defending “a land of great moral value throughout its 5000-year history.” However, they remain silent about the underground room salons, where prostitution is practised covertly every other weekday and these moral standards are routinely violated.
After being recently honoured as a guest of honour among South Korean businessmen, I was “treated” to a night at the ritzy room salon. A designated driver picked us up after a meal of barbecue and copious amounts of soju and drove us to Gangnam, the centre of Seoul’s business district 홍대룸싸롱.
We were met by a valet and led down marble stairs flanked by fountains. There should be “No corporate credit cards in here,” my boss winked at me, adding that the accounts would be settled later. The whiskey and snacks were already set out on the table when we were led into the room. The manager of the parlour came in and called the women inside.
Six women in their late twenties who had undergone surgical enhancements came in awkwardly, strutted in stilettos, lined up, and displayed their assets one by one. Pick a number after the manager listed them all. A meat market of fresh flesh, where one must choose a prey for the evening, the gay sauna came to mind. I received the privilege of first pick because I was the foreigner. I simply replied, “none,” as I didn’t find any of the women attractive. My party gave a satisfied nod as I watched. They assumed that because of my exquisitely expensive taste buds and refusal to choose worn-out rags during the first round, I must be a seasoned customer. The girls, who are naturally disposable, were yelled at by my boss to “Get out!”
The next group entered. I made the choice to select the least plastic girl in front of my salivating coworkers. The remaining members of the group each chose a female companion. Despite the drinks and small talk, it was obvious that my married colleagues had no moral dilemma at all. There was no doubting or even hesitation as to why we were here: to engage in sexual activity with a lovely woman.
Beer, more whiskey, small talk, hand feeding, stumbling, and karaoke are all present. We ended our session, but not before the special service that was in store for us. Soon after we left the room, each of our girls went upstairs and checked into a motel-style room with her chosen companion. I was so drunk at this point that neither my partner nor I were afraid to get naked. After taking a shower, we went to bed. Making me cum, however, was useless. She made her best effort while expressing her regret. I kindly informed her that it was pointless and then we parted ways.
In hindsight, knowing that I was never there to have sex with the women, and being gay, I find the entire experience to be amusing. I’m not remorseful for going. However, I regret that I was able to deliver on my promise and create a standard for subsequent visits. The following day at work, I had become “friends” with my boss. Female coworkers are perplexed as to why we have gotten so close. All I can do right now is be wary of invitations to “dinner with the boss.”
Self-repressive South Korea. Being yourself in public is frowned upon in a variety of settings, including work environments and marital pressures. In the posh basements of Gangnam, South Korea’s seedy underbelly where anything goes, The Room Salon shows how South Korean men let it all out in the safety of a different world. I am a single man during the workweek, to quote one of my managers who is married. This appears to be the unwritten rule in the male-dominated workplace that frees them from moral concerns regarding immoral behaviour or adultery. I have yet to meet a single male South Korean office worker friend who has not engaged in post-work sexual gratification due to how pervasive the culture of money for sex is in that country.
Prior to the annual Queer Parade last week, there was a lot of opposition to homosexuality, primarily on moral grounds. One pastor argued that the fact that the average gay person in South Korea has 1,000 sexual partners and is at risk of contracting STDs is one of the major problems with homosexuality in that country. He is either unaware of what goes on in these salons or he is choosing to ignore the country’s true moral predicament. Although homosexuality is said to be a threat to the moral fabric of the country, men who frequently cheat on their wives with prostitutes get little attention from these righteous organisations that claim to uphold family values.
The same tiny far-right organisations uphold a selective and fundamentalist interpretation of a faith introduced to Korea by Western missionaries while simultaneously decrying homosexuality as a perilous import from the West. However, the actual issue that these organisations should concentrate on occurs in the basements, basements, highrises, and back alleys of Seoul and beyond: The real moral blight on South Korean society is straight men’s acceptance of prostitution, adultery, and deception.