Monday, August 29, 2005

Clubs near Camp Humphreys vow to crack down on prostitution

Move could lead to lifting of ban on last off-limits bar

By Franklin Fisher
Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Sunday, August 28, 2005

PYEONGTAEK, South Korea ­ Club owners outside Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek will fire bar workers who engage in prostitution as well as any of the “entertainment” agencies that provide female bar employees who might later take part in the sex traffic, the head of a local merchants group said Friday.

The merchants also will fire any worker selling alcohol to underage U.S. servicemembers, said Kim Ki-ho, merchants association president in Anjung-ri, the Pyeongtaek City district in which Camp Humphreys is located.

Kim said he promised such measures most recently in a Friday meeting with Col. Michael J. Taliento Jr., Area III Support Activity commander at Camp Humphreys.

Meanwhile, base officials said Taliento soon could lift an off-limits restriction he placed earlier this month on the Ace Club.

But the matter remains “in abeyance” until base officials can clarify language in paperwork the club submitted in seeking to have the ban removed, said Clarence F. Slawson, Taliento’s deputy.

“There’s some question in the translation on some key pieces so until we’ve had the opportunity to review that more thoroughly, we’re going to hold that decision in abeyance,” Slawson said.

Slawson added that if the matter is clarified readily, “the decision can be made, probably, Monday or Tuesday.”

Taliento put the club off limits after an Army Criminal Investigation Command agent allegedly was able to buy a female bar worker’s time.

U.S. Forces Korea policy prohibits servicemembers from the practice, which has been characterized as typically a way to secure time with a prostitute for purposes of sexual liaison. Payment to the club’s management lets the employee stay with the customer for a stated period of time.

The Ace Club was one of 12 Anjung-ri establishments Taliento put off limits effective Aug. 12. The others he banned after an underage agent was allegedly able to buy alcohol at each establishment, Camp Humphreys officials said. USFK policy forbids drinking by servicemembers younger than 21. South Korea’s legal drinking age is 20.

Taliento lifted the ban on seven of the 12 on Aug. 19 after merchants outlined in writing the steps they’d take to curb underage drinking sales in their respective establishments.

Those seven were: Enterprise Club, Maxim Club, Bay Watch Club, Olympia Club, Blue Hawaii Club, Zeus Club and a Family Mart store.

On Thursday, Taliento removed the restriction on four others: Duffy, Top Hat, Wall and Shooters clubs.

Kim said he would ask club owners to tell their employees that if they get involved in either type of offense, they will be fired. He also promised that agencies would be fired if they supplied employees who later became involved in the sex traffic.

“We keep promise to the commander,” Kim said of the measures he promised Taliento.

Earlier this month, the merchants also promised to take various measures to stem underage drinking, including installing closed-circuit cameras to monitor bar transactions, posting “No Minors” signs, checking servicemember identification cards to snag prospective underage drinkers and calling South Korean or U.S. military police if the ID checks trigger contention.

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