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Government is demolishing Seoul's red-light areas, while sex workers argue their voices are not being heard. Seoul, South Korea - The s was a peak time for Cheongyangni , a thriving red-light district in Seoul's east. It housed more than shops and sex workers. Historians labelled it the biggest and most popular red-light area in South Korea's capital.
The area is now a construction site. It was dimly lit. Pedestrians were scarce - passing through to get to their destination rather than venturing out in the area. All shops, bar one, have shut down. The padlocks on the doors, shattered windows, rubbish bags dumped on the streets and the eerie silence adds to the change - the area went from buzzing and bustling to desolate and barren. Now, there are hardly any. We open late and close early," Ann named changed to protect identity , the sole sex worker in the shop, told Al Jazeera as she continued to look past the windows for any approaching customers.
The conversation was cut short as she spotted a middle-aged man looking into the shop from across the pavement. He looked around and walked away, much to Ann's disappointment. Now, as you can see, we just sit and wait. The eviction of sex workers here started in As part of Seoul's development plans, Cheongyangni , is set to make way for residential buildings.
In front of the locked shops, there are broken mirrors and stools, all discarded now. It will not be too long until the last remaining shop in the area is shut down amid development plans. Our workplaces are disappearing all the time. This is all taking place with no dialogue with sex workers, nor any measures to protect us. Jang argues that the disappearance of red-light districts is pushing prostitution underground - and online - and making things more dangerous for sex workers.
In a separate interview last year, one of Jang's colleagues claimed many shop workers were threatened by thugs who "showed up with iron bars to wreck their workplaces". He did, however, point to a vigilante programme that was launched in and offers incentives to those reporting any illegal occurrences. That is why the SMG started a civic watchdog programme. Anyone living in Seoul aged 19 and above can join the programme. Miari Texas is another well-known red-light districts in northern Seoul.