Red light districts in Seoul have never been particularly welcoming places for foreigners as many articles and user comments on this website can attest. One is now unavailable for foreigners and locals alike as it has all but been shuttered.
There have long been rumors of impending ends of nearly every red light district in South Korea. Usually they amounted only to speculation. In at least one instance an attempt to close a red light district and redevelop it into something else was stopped by people on the ground.
Now, finally, the sun has set on a prominent Seoul red light district. The large and long-standing 588 (Oh Pal Pal) redlight district in the Cheongnyangni section of Seoul is a ghost of its formal self. Many of the old shops where women once sat looking for customers have been torn down. Those that remain are dark even at night and devoid of women all together.
There are still a few windows standing here and there but they all look to be abandoned and marked for demolition. The days of 588 are numbered (no pun intended).
This doesn’t spell the end of prostitution in South Korea of course. It continues to flourish and recent reports suggest that a majority of Korean men still pay for sex. The destruction of red light districts like 588 just represents a new phase in the industry.
With sex sellers now able to advertise to millions online they no longer need to display sex women in windows. They can just post a picture up online. They can also operate out of discreet rooms in buildings that people from the street would probably never even notice. So they get access to more potential customers without putting themselves in eyeshot of do-gooders or law enforcement.
This seems to be the way things are going around the world. The internet has changed human society in major ways. The sex industry is only one among many sectors of human activity that has been heavily modified by modern forms of communication.