10 March 2008

field trip #9: sinchon love hotels

as promised, here's post #1 of 2 about sinchon.

new, glassy highrises flank both sides of busy sinchon-ro.

sinchon's main drag is a busy 8-laner with seoul metro's line 2 running below it. the 1-km span from edae station to the 5-way sinchon rotary and subway station is flanked by high-rise office-tels (speaking of konglish, this one is hard to explain), a movie theater, department stores and several english language hagwons (institutes). but if you move just one block north of main street, you'll find a long, uneven and quiet alley. on either side are ugly low-rise brick homes, one-room restaurants, ha-sook jibs (student housing), and at least 40 "love motels", starting with "motel good time" on one end all the way to "hotel reem" at the other. choose your pleasure.

actually, this feels pretty seedy.

back in the day, my neighborhood was supposedly a small but notorious red light district popular with american soldiers. although "club 88 sexyland" and "sexy han bar: always on my mind" are still outside my door, and apparently on my mind, sinchon doesn't feel especially seedy. while it's obvious why the love motels charge by the hour, they're not brothels.

the popularity of love motels is in part a response to korea's stubborn confucian culture. it's estimated that less than 5% of korean couples live together before marriage. since the vast majority of korean young people stay with their parents until marriage, it's typical for korean men and women in their late 20s to remain under their parents' roofs. love motels provide young love birds (and adulterers, alike) a clean and comfortable place to perform their shenanigans.

a horrendous montage reflecting my mood after several days holed up sick.

the love motel phenomenon is better known in japan, and the nihons will take themed-anything to its extreme. tho less remarkable, korean love motels are quite kitschy, flaunting a "cheapo fancy" vibe a la christmas lights year-round, neon signage, plastic flowers, very few windows and building materials usually consisting of glossy synthetics that won't last long. discretion is a primary concern, so some love motels have touch screen self-check-in. most hang vinyl curtains to conceal patrons' faces. if that's insufficient, some garages kindly conceal your car's license plates just in case your spouse is lurking about the neighborhood.

didn't come prepared? no bother.

inside, the rooms are usually clean and pleasant. amenities typically include dvd players, internet and large lcd tvs with cable. many rooms have jacuzzis and, in case you forgot where you were, vending machines that sell condoms, lube, breath strips, toothbrushes, sex toys, etc. i saw a few motels advertise the availability of online multi-user role playing games, like world of warcraft. sounds like a girlfriend's worst nightmare.

my favorite aspect of love motels is their names, which are exclusively in konglish and try to evoke either 1) the hifalutin life: e.g. motel paradise, royal park, noblesse and hotel luxury, 2) sexual innuendo: motel touch, boom, eros, reem, and good time, or, 3) lost in translation: masstige motel chic, hotel echae and e'zen hotel (electronic zen? ease-in?). my favorite is a little place half-way up the hill called motel eegee (korean pronunciation of "easy"). i'd like to hope that i'd be offended if my date took me to motel easy.

classy decor.

if he did, however, chances are the night would run about $50, which isn't bad for a clean and comfortable room. a tip: if you don't want to be surrounded by (other peoples') sex sounds all night, choose a motel a few doors off the main drag.

getting there:

→ if you want to see sinchon's love motel strip for yourself, take subway line 2 to sinchon station (exit #3). walk away from the rotary but veer right at first opportunity to wander off main path.
→ or, take one of several busses that go to sinchon rotary (153).


Lanelle said...

Interesting to know.

Anonymous said...

I just got back from Sinchon, I used three Love Motels in the area when I was there including Hotel Good Times. It was clean and didn't cost too much. If a Korean girl takes you there enjoy it, I did.