Owner, staff of banned S. Korea club must attend training session
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — The owner and staff of an off-limits club outside Camp Humphreys must attend a training session about prostitution and human trafficking if they want the ban lifted, the U.S. Army said Thursday.
Army Col. Michael J. Taliento Jr. prohibited soldiers from going to the Top Hat Club last month after undercover police allegedly caught two female employees offering themselves for prostitution, said Clarence F. Slawson, deputy to Taliento.
Taliento is commander of Area III Support Activity at Camp Humphreys. He issued the ban on Sept. 22.
The undercover police were members of a “joint crime suppression team” of U.S. military and South Korean police.
The women allegedly offered themselves to officers in an arrangement in which customers pay management in exchange for the women spending the night with them, Slawson said.
The practice is “indicative of establishments that participate in prostitution or human trafficking,” he said.
Under routine procedure when establishments are put off-limits, Area III officials sent the club an initial letter stating management could attend the Oct. 7 session of the Area III Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board to ask for reconsideration, Slawson said.
The owner attended the meeting and denied the women had offered to sell their nights off. Instead, according to Slawson, the owner contended the women had offered their night to the officers starting from when the club closed.
The owner could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Area III has since drafted another letter stating that the owner and all club employees must attend a training session about prostitution and human trafficking “before we would consider removing them from the off-limits listing,” Slawson said.
The training is “to make sure that all the club owners, management and entertainment personnel, fully understand … the USFK position on prostitution and human trafficking, and that it will not be condoned in any fashion,” Slawson said.
The training is set for Oct. 24 at 3 p.m. in the Enterprise hotel in Anjung-ri, a section of Pyeongtaek City near Camp Humphreys. U.S. military members and Pyeongtaek officials will conduct the session.
Kim Ki-ho, president of the Anjung-ri Merchants Association, said he’s asked the Top Hat Club owner as well as other local club owners and staff to attend the session.
Officials will give out the USFK hot line phone number and other information that could help female club workers who are being coerced into prostitution or human trafficking, he said.
The round-the-clock hotline number is DSN 736-9333.