Last year, I did a photo essay/article on the effects of the Special Anti-Prositution Law on the industry, in which I came to the conclusion that there had indeed been very little effect. Ho-hum. No surprise.
Now, the Ministry of Gender Equality has declared the law a success. Pshaw. Talk about self-delusion and bureaucratic efforts to keep one's head in the sand. It's sad, really sad, that such a potentially useful governmental body – think about if the United States had a Department of Social Justice or some such – does nothing really useful and may have in fact, ended up making things worse.
This report, translated by The Marmot, lays out, in good ole' fashioned muckraking style, the fact that the "crackdown" has indeed 1) done little to actually shut down the red-light districts and other formal prostitution establishments in question, and 2) has simply forced "the industry" to diversify and actually increase availability of existing as well as brand-new services.
Even this blogger and photographer, who has walked the streets and and talked with some of the people who know this world the best, has never heard of most of the new stuff that has been popping up all 'round Seoul as a direct result of this law. Between the "handjob rooms" and even the import of Japanese-style "fetish clubs," even my sordid self is surprised. Wow.
I'll make official here what I always say in my university lectures would be a far more effective action to take in an effort to reduce levels of concrete gender discrimination in Korean society. Simply outlaw required pictures on resumes as a start. There is actually no need for them, other than to encourage people to keep appearance as a standard in the initial round of hiring. Since it's going to come in as a factor when people get to the interview process anyway, why tip the scales towards overt and oppressive levels of gender discrimination?
The scribbling on the top of the resume reads: "Too old."
Ministry of Gender Equality – how about starting light and small? Instead of say, trying to eliminate a sweeping, economically and culturally entrenched societal institution in one fell swoop, how about putting forth myriad smaller measures to counteract the many nodes and zones of gender inequality that partially creates the conditions that lead young women to enter the sex industry in the first place?
In a society in which women's bodies still continue to be used, displayed, and valued for one thing, perhaps the Ministry should try hacking away at the many foundational parts of the problem, instead of trying to blow away only one head of the hydra with a 20-gauge Mossberg shotgun?
Just call me crazy, I guess.