South Korea’s famous club MD’s (Marketing Directors) made VIP rooms and bottle service at Seoul’s hottest nighttime spots an instant reality. But as the economy got tighter and the tastes of the 1% ever so stranger, they were instrumental in changing the business model of the large-scale nightclub like Burning Sun. Instead of focusing on celebrity DJs and packing the club with music-loving patrons, the MDs focused on high rolling VVIPs who wanted to drop thousands of dollars a night for a walk on Seoul’s wild side.
However, these ‘wild thrills’ increasingly involved drugging innocent fellow club customers for sexual encounters.
Burning Sun promoted itself as a super exclusive and expensive club catering to the 1%. That is half true. The other half of the truth is the tragedy. Almost anyone, especially naïve young girls who came up from the ‘countryside of Korea’ to Seoul for the weekend, who paid the $20 cover charge could get in. In fact, Burning Sun needed this ‘fodder’ to feed to the 1% clientele to keep them coming back.
Even still, it turns out the club wasn’t doing too well. Without hot, normal girls in abundance, the 1% big spenders wouldn’t come. Gone were the days where you would pack the clubs with big DJ acts and music shows. The name of the game now was really about sexual conquest. And it had to be guaranteed. Even if the guy was butt ugly. Because he was spending thousands of dollars. Sometimes you could seal the deal with a prostitute. But often they wanted a ‘real girl’ in the club. How do you solve a problem like that?
By breaking the law! And ruining lives!
The MD or marketing directors got creative and came up with a system to keep the ecosystem alive. They would find girls to bring in for free and literally force free drinks on them to have a good time. If these girls stopped dancing at their booths or tables for a second, an MD would come over and scold them for ‘not having enough fun’.
The MD foreign export business model started around 3 years ago to attract big spending hallyu (K-pop/K-culture) fans from overseas who’d be VIPs at the clubs and have all the drugs and sex they’d want in a ‘safer’ environment than China and other more repressive countries. Moreover, even though the price of drugs in Korea are way over global market rates, there’s more consistent quality in the purity. To the super-rich of Asia and Southeast Asia who come to Korea to get high and hook up with their K-pop fantasy it seems all too easy and the MDs were only too happy to oblige.
The MDs would also lead these girls to the VIP rooms to meet up with men. They would spike the girls’ drinks with GHB or supply the drugs and any other drugs upon request or provide the link to the appropriate dealer. VIPs who paid ten-thousand a night and up had two ‘butlers’ protecting and serving them at all times. If the VIPs needed to partake in drugs, they would lead them to the handicapped bathrooms at the hotel lobby. Cleaning staff testified they’d often find passed out people in the large stalls.
After the girls lost their memories, the men would take advantage of them and most likely also lead them out to a hotel room. The girls may be molested in the club’s VIP room and bathrooms as well, portions of which would be filmed to be sold for additional revenue sources and to serve as marketing for other high rollers. The VIPs would often get text messages with videos and messages saying things like “These girls are here now for the taking, come now!”
The scam was so tight knit and legally mapped out. After the girls woke up in the morning, the man would force the groggy girl to take a selfie as evidence to make it look like she had hooked up with the guy willingly. Also, police said testimony of victims under the influence of GHB was hard to prosecute because CCTV footage shows the girls appearing cognizant. Also, they blackout for hours and can’t remember what happened very well.
MDs made about $10,000 to $20,000 per month. Maybe more if drugs were involved. However, there’s an entirely different class of scouting MDs who reportedly make $100,000 per month. They keep a supply of underage girls circulating through the clubs. Their recruits are runaway teenage girls. They set them up with debt bondage contracts involving plastic surgery and studio apartments. Then they give these girls the false hope of paying off the debt and getting a good shot at becoming a celebrity at the end of just working 2 to 3 years in the room salon and club circuit.
According to Made in Gangnam author Ju Won-kyu, who went undercover in the club scene, the girls get tossed out with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and destroyed bodies instead. One girl had too many abortions that her uterus fell out and she was abandoned because she was no longer of any use.
The reporter said his greatest gripe was that these were normal girls who went to a club that anyone could access. It was not an exclusive, hidden club that would be hard to find by the public and therefore have limited damage to girls who may not know better. The club deliberately lured in star struck girls and then commodified them into rape-able objects for their VIP clients.
That’s how the club business was able to survive during those lean times when people really weren’t going to clubs. Yes, these men could have regular room salon girls and prostitutes as always. But apparently that’s not quite cutting it these days. They want a guaranteed thing with REGULAR girls.
And the prostitutes they did recruit became younger and younger runaways. Some were even reportedly as young as 12 years old working at the club.
Now that’s the huge line they crossed in society. Turning regular customers into prostitutes against their will. Not even prostitutes. Sexual assault victims. Not only did they ‘give it away for free’, the victims paid the club a $20 cover charge to get raped.
Who accepts a society that makes you put on makeup, do your hair, put on your best dress and heels, and pay $20 so that you can get raped???
The Made in Gangnam writer says prosecutors and tax authorities were seen at the club and took girls to the connected hotel rooms. The 50-year-old men stood out like a sore thumb at Burning Sun. What this means is victims have nowhere to turn. Any institution that can challenge another to bring you justice has someone else corrupted in it who will work to sabotage your case because they have skin in the game.
And you’ll never know who they are because they’re so many who are so easily bought.
That’s why you see the real owners smile and brag so deviously on the rare occasions they have to confront the public. They’ve already written the happy ending to their own story because they see how fast people agree to be bought.