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A karaoke room inside a brothel in Miari red light district on March 31, , in Seoul, South But in South Korea, where professional relationships are fostered outside of the office , such after-hours camaraderie accompanied by copious amounts of soju is a typical weekday affair.
Prostitution has been criminalized in Korea since , but it is as pervasive as the cronyism that finances it. Until recently, business executives would even put it on the company card. There is a variety of services on hand that do not always include sex, from kissing rooms to hostess bars and massage parlors as elaborated in this Reddit post. At karaoke rooms or noraebang, as many as one in five in the country hire brokers to supply young women to accompany guests.
Finding a noraebang that has this service is somewhat simple. After a few hours of drinking, flirting and singing in a private karaoke room, which could include foreplay and lap dances, the women lead the clients to private corridors where they perform full sex services. The order of events follows similarly, with the women serving expensive whiskey and making conversation over karaoke before rounding out the night with a private happy ending.
These venues are so popular that they crop up even during recessions. While there is little moral qualm in society about visiting such establishments, the stigma against prostitutes has led to dangerous work conditions and a low social status.
At the office, those who do not take part in after-work parties may face limited career mobility or lost opportunities for business deals. Even journalists may lose a scoop from a government official if they lose that relationship. While dinner and drinks do not necessarily lead to a trip to a sex parlor, women are generally excluded from such outings at male-centric workplaces, which is argued to hurt their labor participation.