“Korean Wave” Sweeps Uzbekistan

by Laurence on 9/25/2006 · 4 comments

Romantic Korean television programs have become hits all over Asia. The spread of the “Korean wave,” has given South Korean men a reputation as the Italians of Asia. According to Korea’s The Hankyoreh, the phenomenon has now hit Tashkent:

Over the past five years, about 20 South Korean television dramas have been aired in Uzbekistan. Most of them took over 50 percent of their time slot’s viewership. Two, “Winter Sonata” and “All In,” accounted for 70 to 80 percent of viewership. The wave is not confined to dramas: the South Korean animated show “Track City” was recently contracted for broadcasting here.

Forty-six-year-old Park Rita, who is the single ethnic Korean staff member at Uzbekistan’s Channel 1, said that “letters come to my company to broadcast the programs again. Uzbeks prefer Korean dramas more than Koreans themselves.”

However, the Korean newspaper reports a darker side to the spread of Korean romance–a flowering of sex-businesses and brothels aimed at Koreans:

Ten years earlier, only one Korean-style “room salon,” or brothel, was in operation. But such salons have mushroomed in recent years, offering packages such as W300,000 (US$308) getting male tourists a day of golf and a night of sex. The room salons bear names such as “Ace,” “CNN,” and “The White House.”

In 2003, a 25-year-old tour guide said, his company was able to attract 10 to 15 Korean tourists a month, but the number has since jumped to some 300 a month. He said some Korean tourists asked to visit such room salons as soon as they arrived.

A Korean businessman said, “The image of Korea is on the ropes. I have a hard time meeting Koreans [that have come here without ulterior motives].”

Prostitution is illegal in Uzbekistan, where more than 88 percent of the population is Islam. However, police do little to crack down on the room salons.

Heo Seon-haeing, 41, the dean of a private Korean school in Tashkent, recalled a painful memory. When a businessman in his 50s visited the school, he asked Heo to introduce him to two female students nearby. The students scolded the professor later, as Cho had later proposed that they be his “mistresses.” Heo said some male Korean tourists ask him to introduce them to attractive Korean translators.

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Ataman Rakin September 26, 2006 at 7:26 am

“reports a darker side to the spread of Korean romance–a flowering of sex-businesses and brothels aimed at Koreans:”

Some of these places are filled with the wives and daughters of political prisoners who were forced into prostitution by regime goons.

Ataman Rakin September 26, 2006 at 8:09 am

Note that Uzbekistan’s ethnic Coreans are particularly well-represented in the ranks of the rogue regime in Tashkent compared their overall share in the population (209,500 or 0.8% in 1999).

Two of the perpetrators of the Anidjan massacre are ethnic Corean. Two of the perpetrators of the Andijan massacre, for example, are ethnic Coreans: colonel Gregorii Pak (declared persona non grata in the EU: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:32005E0792:EN:NOT ) and major-general Vladimir Mamo. Karimovs’ ambassador to South Korea, Vitalii Fen, is also one (he was instrumental in Daewoo’s shop setup in Andijan).

The day the karimovites crash, they are a potential target for popular wrath.

Laurence September 26, 2006 at 12:01 pm

Ataman, I don’t think you can blame Karimov for everthying. For example, a Korean protitution ring was busted here in Washington DC, according to The Korea Liberator, which cited this news item from the Washington Post:

Federal agents broke up a sex-slave trafficking ring along the East Coast that coerced Korean women into working as prostitutes in massage parlors and spas, some in upscale Washington neighborhoods such as Cleveland Park and Glover Park, authorities announced yesterday.

Agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the FBI arrested 31 people Tuesday, including 19 in New York and four in the District. They also raided 18 businesses, including one in Baltimore and five in Washington, three of them downtown.

In all, 23 Korean women in Washington and 44 in New York, Baltimore, New Haven, Conn., and Philadelphia were rounded up and interviewed to determine whether they were involuntarily part of the ring that forced some women into prostitution to pay off tens of thousands of dollars in fees for being smuggled into the United States, authorities said.

Ataman Rakin September 28, 2006 at 12:22 am

No I actually don’t. That’s why I always use the term ‘karimovites’ and not ‘Karimov’. He’s the face/on top of a system with a certain mindset, be it one that will start to unravel once he and junior are eliminated. As a matter of fact I consider Karimov junior to be much more rapacious and harmful than senior (she’s thought to be involved in the sex traffic actually, though it remains to be seen how directly).

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