Sunday Night in Sleazy Sillim


Hey, what are you saying for tonight?  How about swinging by good old Sillim-dong, just a ten minute walk from where I live. You’ll love it.  We can have a night filled with adventure.

There are tons of bars and HOFs all over the place.  We can chill and get drunk. Maybe even end up talking to people.  Oh?  You did that last night?  And the night before? It doesn’t matter, my friend.  This is Korea.  We can do that every night.

But seriously, since you’ve come to Sillim, you must really want to party.  I know, I know…it’s Sunday.  We’re talking about Sillim, though.  I’m assuming you’re aware of what Sillim offers.  After we get some drinks, how about hitting up a kissing room? They’re all over the place.  I’m not entirely sure what goes on in kissing rooms.  I would guess it involves kissing.  And no, that doesn’t mean we have to kiss each other.

Sillim doesn’t have the greatest rep.  No, you’ll likely be filled with an intense creepy feeling as you walk through its seediness.  After the kissing room, how about checking out one of these little places, where you get a private karaoke room, a bottle of whiskey, and a girl.  Sounds to me like innocent fun.

Then, if you want, we can go over to one of the many love motel areas, where a man in a straw hat will approach you and ask you if you want a “sexy Korean girl.”  I will pass.  I am in a relationship, and a bit broke.  If you wish to partake in this, I will not judge you.  Will you be upset if I write about it on my blog, complete with your full name?

Oh, who the heck are we kidding?  This isn’t for us.  Although, I must admit, I’m rather fascinated by it.  You’re right – to hell with it.  We don’t associate with kissing rooms and men in straw hats.  Let’s just get some booze and cigarettes and hang out down by the river that runs through the place.  There are lots of high school kids smoking down there, and sometimes couples sit under the bridge and kiss.  You look a bit depressed.  Yeah, I agree, the place does have a bit of a lonely feeling about it.

Shit, this place is beat.  I’m starting to feel depressed too.  It’s late and I’m feeling tired.  You can crash on my floor if you want.  Tomorrow Sillim will still be here – like a lot of people, it never really changes at all.  Let’s snag a little street food before we leave.  I bet the street food ladies have great stories to tell.  Tons of ’em.  I wonder if they have anyone to tell them to.  It would be a shame if they didn’t.


(This blog was created with the help of my girlfriend’s cell phone camera.  I am aware that the photography is not, shall we say, of a professional quality.)


21 thoughts on “Sunday Night in Sleazy Sillim

  1. Whoa ! First to comment!

    The place doesn’t really look seedy, does it? I mean, it looks colorful with all those neon lights. Are those bars or love hotels?

    • It’s a funny place. For the most part, it looks like every other place in Korea. Tons of neon and bars. But then you’ll turn down a street and suddenly you’re not in Kansas anymore. There are lots of weird side streets right off the main drags where there’s nothing but love motels and these places where…well, I’m not really sure what goes on. I will say that of all the places I’ve been in Korea, Sillim probably has the trashiest feel to it. Hence, I sort of love it.

      • Topicless, there are no red light districts in the US, right?

        When I was in the Philippines, we were stuck in a traffic jam right there at Manila’s famous red light district they call Ermita. Anyways, there were tons of night clubs and watering holes, and girls outside , maybe waiting for clients ( I saw mostly white foreigners talking to the ladies ). Funny thing here , I also saw art galleries nearby. And we in fact , stopped and parked nearby to have cofee at this really classy with “Old World ” ( Spanish ) ambiance coffee house named Cafe Adriatico. It;s a street of coffee houses, and just spitting distance from the bars. It’s weird. ( and there were bricks and cobblestoned streets too)

      • Point well taken: compared to certain places, Korea is Disney World. I have to say, though, that the prostitution in the Philippines was definitely not as in-your-face as I thought it was going to be. Not nearly as apparent as Thailand. And I hate to sound like the moral police here – I far prefer areas like this. They have some color to them. Walking through Nana Plaza in Bangkok was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

        How does a young lady such as yourself feel about places like Ermita? We’re prudes in the US, so it’s rather shocking, although I’m guessing that if you grow up in a place where that’s a part of life, you’d eventually feel somewhat blase about it.

  2. Hi there! I read your conversation/comments with Ren and well…there are just some things I have learned from both of you. And here I thought prostitution is apparent. I have studied in a university located in Ermita. Not that far from that center of red light district. And I also worked in Clark where I have to pass by Angeles City everyday for four years. I feel blasé with the place with all those colourful, glaring colors in front of their pubs and restaurants or karaoke bars. However, I still feel somewhat ashamed of the women I usually see outside those bars. I stare at them and I look at them like they are my sisters, cousins or friends and I feel pity for them at the same time. It’s not because of their line of work. It’s given and it’s obvious but it’s in the way they carry themselves. Even if your job is being a prostitute, waaa…I think you still should respect yourself so others would respect you as well. And I thought we are prudes here that’s why there are institutions trying to stop prostitution. But I don’t think they are successful at all. Maybe if there were no customers, then there would be no businesses like these. I noticed in Angeles, most customers were White Foreigners. I don’t know if they were patronizing those types of places or maybe they were just kind of curious so they try places like that.

    • Hey Jep! Thanks for the insights. Angeles actually has a little section in the Philippines Lonely Planet guide about being one of the largest areas for prostitution in the world or something like that. What’s most interesting about your comment is just knowing there are other people there – for some reason, I envisioned Angeles as one enormous red light district. But of course it isn’t and of course there has to be tons of people there living regular day to day lives, like in any city.

      Good to hear from you, lady!

  3. I’m not exactly a world traveler, so I’ll just read everyone elses words and try to digest them. While the US doesn’t have red light districts per se, people will admit that there is prostitution in nearly every city.

    Americans typically don’t like to have sex workers conspicuously displayed, preferring to pretend they don’t exist. We like our sex in advertising and on TV. Our culture has got to seem every bit as strange to outsiders as theirs does to us.

    Thanks for the post. For the record, I thought the photography was rather good.

    • “We like our sex in advertising and on TV.” Seriously, there’s a lot to that. I think that’s a great observation and spot on. In fact, it’s got me thinking a bit. (future blog topics bouncing around head)

      Peace 1point! Keep up the great posts on your site.

      • Thanks.

        I find that I get quite a few future topics from other people’s comments as well.

        I’m looking forward to reading more of your stuff, regardless of what the topic is.

      • Thanks man! And needed, too, because my next post is a doozy. You ever write something and know it’s way too long and highly uninteresting…and yet you decide to put it up with confidence anyways? Well, that’s how the next one is. haha

    • It’s funny – a bare breast wardrobe malfunction in the U.S. creates outrage yet has such a huge porn industry. I agree, it must be puzzling to foreigners, especially from those countries who are relaxed about nudity i.e. Holland

      • Yeah, one second of Janet Jackson’s breast sparks outrage, when ten minutes earlier there’s sex in half the commercials that run. It’s the same in Korea though; there’s this big facade that everything is about love and couples, but meanwhile there are love motels and hooker districts all over the place. I’m not complaining – I suppose that double standard helps to keep a country centered.

        Thanks for the comment, M Robson!

  4. Now i HAVE to know what goes on in the Kissing Room? Does the Chris Rock warning follow the Kissing Room as well? Is the Kissing Room (which just sounds like a pretentious art film) have people in masks doing kinky shit…like Eyes Wide Shut?

    • First off, I want to say that over these years, my unabashed adoration for Eyes Wide Shut just keeps growing and growing. I seriously think it’s one of the best movies ever made. A masterwork. There’s no other movie like it. Now I feel like watching it again for the 50th time…Fidelio!!!

      Now, to actually address your comment. My girlfriend was walking with me when I took these pictures. Although she lives almost directly in Sillim, she had never noticed the kissing rooms before and was (understandably) confused by them. She did some Internet searching and found some article written in Korean where they interview a girl who works in a kissing room. My girlfriend summarized it for me, and told me that the girl in the interview said she has sex with 4-5 guys per day, some of them over 60, and makes a substantial amount of money. I’m not sure what else it said, because as she reported the rest, I quietly snuck out and went to a kissing room.

      Anyways, hope that helps! Peace!

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