South Korean adult festival featuring Japanese porn stars faces stiff opposition amid prostitution concerns

The festival, organised by Play Joker, was initially scheduled to take place in Suwon, but was moved to Paju due to local opposition, and eventually faced cancellations at alternative venues along the Han River and in Seoul’s Gangnam district.

Countering Mayor Kim’s argument, lawmaker Cheon Ha-ram of the New Reform Party, newly elected on a proportional representation ticket, questioned the selective enforcement of laws.

“If that’s the concern, why aren’t room salons (where male clients are entertained by hostesses) across the country being shut down?” Cheon said during the CBS talk show.

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He defended the legality of the presence of adult film actors, asserting that being in such a profession is not inherently illegal, nor should it be grounds for prohibiting them from taking part in events.

Cheon criticised the use of public authority to interfere in cultural affairs without clear evidence of illegal activities, suggesting that measures should target specific illegal acts like production and distribution of adult film content rather than banning events based on the professions of the participants.

However, the mayor raised concerns about potential illegal activities at the festival.

“Last year’s festival reportedly charged about 3.5 million won for ‘special services,’ and there are strong signals that it was closely related to prostitution due to the highly enclosed spaces,” Kim said.

He said that because of the high entrance fees and the enclosed setting, there is a need for law enforcement intervention.

In response, Cheon said: “The organisers say it’s just a private dining event with AV actors; if there was prostitution, could such an event even take place?”

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Sexuality on their own terms: the Hong Kong women who feel empowered by making adult content

Sexuality on their own terms: the Hong Kong women who feel empowered by making adult content

He criticised the notion that high fees necessarily imply illicit activities, dismissing it as a case of “superficial administrative thinking.”

Cheon added: “The risk of prostitution is greater in room salons, which also charge high fees and have hostesses in enclosed spaces, yet no one is calling for a blanket shutdown of these establishments while the adult festival is being completely blocked by authorities, which deviates entirely from the principles of rule-based administration.”

Cheon agreed that if illegal activities such as prostitution are confirmed, they should be investigated and prosecuted.

Addressing concerns about the festival being secretly held near schools, the mayor expressed doubts about the feasibility of concealing such events from local residents, emphasising that the impact on the community must be considered.

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On the other hand, Cheon, who is also a parent of primary school children, said that the visibility of the event is more crucial than its proximity to schools. “There have been many schools near venues where adult-oriented performances for women have taken place. This shows the inconsistent application of administrative practices,” he said.

As the event’s future hangs in balance, both sides of the argument reflect broader societal concerns regarding morality, legality and cultural expression.

The event organisers have announced plans to reschedule the festival for June, continuing the debate over the balance between cultural freedom and regulatory oversight.

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