For a few weeks police in Dongdaemun have been cracking down on prostitution in a neighborhood called Jangan-dong, and the pimps there are threatening to make public a list of cops who they say took bribes in the form of cash and sexual favors.

The Joongang Ilbo recently took a look at how the affair got started in July.

Last July, when police superintendant Lee Jong-gu moved to the Dongdaemun Police Department, the fathers and daughters committee in the S·H apartments in Jangan-dong requested an interview. A few days later, after Mr. Lee had moved into his new post with the women and teenagers division, a crackdown began against prostitution in Jangan-dong. On the 7th there were over 600 comments of support left on the message board of the Dongdaemun police’s website. A representative of the fathers and daughters committee at the H apartments said, “the people in this building wrote the comments to support the police in what they’re doing.”  The businesses are pushing back by saying they will “release the names of police who took sexual bribes,” but Mr. Lee said, “this is what the people want,” and the crackdown continues.

Renters' Associations

In July and August of last year the residents of the S apartments in Jangan-dong demonstrated outside the offices of local representative Hong Jun-pyo, a member of the Grand National Party. They demanded an end to prostitution. They said that, “it makes for a bad educational environment” and “violates our property rights by lowering home values”. Over 50 people attended the demonstrations, held two to three times a week. The demonstrations affected the 18th national elections. Representative Hong promised the destruction of prostitution in Jangan-dong. Democratic Party candidate Min Byeong-du made the same public promise.

“The power of apartment communities” has lent strength to the police effort. Some apartments in Jangan-dong have been doing so for the last five years. Starting with the 2,182 households of the H apartments in 2003 and continuing with the 1,786 households of the S apartments in 2005, today over 6,000 households in Jangan 2-dong and 3-dong have joined the call.

71-year old Mrs. Jang, resident of a nearby apartment building, purchased a 42-pyeong (138.8㎡) apartment six years ago. The building is near a row of prostitution businesses. But the value of her apartment is the same as it was six years ago. 60-year old Mr. Jeong, operator of a local brokerage business, said, “when people who want to buy an apartment see a lot of anma massage parlors on a big street, they just leave and don’t even look at the home.”

One resident of the H apartments pointed out, “with the Special Law on Prostitution passed in September 2004 the pimps pushed out of Cheongryangri 588 came to this neighborhood. It’s the balloon effect, you push it one side and it goes to another.”

Jeon Jeong-geun, head of citizen services in representative Hong’s office, said, “the citizens of Jangan-dong have been calling loudly for the elimination of local prostitution. Even though they live in the same neighborhood, they have systematically complained about the educational environment and home values.” One operator of an anma parlor in Jangan-dong sighed and said, “even though enforcement is not heavy in business districts like Yeongdeungpo and Gangnam, there’s nothing to say, this place has a different atmosphere made by the apartment organizations.”

Nice to see a community come together to make its neighborhood a more livable place.

Jangan-dong Pimps: “We Hate Renters’ Associations”