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SEOUL – The Songtan Entertainment District outside Osan Air Base has been declared off-limits for 18 hours every day starting Friday because of planned protests by area club owners over the decision to prohibit servicemembers from frequenting a half-dozen bars found to be promoting prostitution.

The entertainment district is to be off-limits from 11 a.m. to 5 a.m.

“This action is necessary to ensure the safety and welfare of military and civilian personnel and family members, and to avert incidents and provocations detrimental to the alliance between the United States and Republic of Korea,” said a statement posted on Facebook and attributed to the installation command.

Songtan is home to dozens of so-called “juicy bars” where primarily Philippine women are employed as hostesses, flirting with servicemembers and trying to get them to buy them expensive juice drinks.

While flirting is as far as things go at some juicy bars, others are notorious for forcing their hostesses to prostitute themselves when they fall short of drink-sale quotas.

A spokeswoman for the 51st Fighter Wing command said the bar owners’ association has said that between 50 and 150 supporters will protest for as many as 30 days.

“To ensure the safety and welfare of our service members, the Songtan Entertainment District will be temporarily placed off-limits for the duration of the protests,” said a release from the command.

The main gate will be closed to all vehicles and most pedestrian traffic. All military personnel who reside off base are being asked to wear civilian clothes when traveling to and from base.

More than 50 base-area establishments, including juicy bars, are now off-limits to soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in South Korea because of ties to prostitution and human trafficking. Six in the Songtan Entertainment District were recently added to the list of by 51st Fighter Wing commander Col. Patrick McKenzie.

“Establishments may be put off limits to all military personnel until the 51st Fighter Wing commander has determined that the establishment has instituted adequate corrective actions to again make it a safe environment for our service members to visit,” said the release from the command.

Stars and Stripes’ Yoo Kyong Chang contributed to this report.


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