Dirty Deeds on Texas Street

I’ve been a bad blogger, and I apologize sincerely for the complete lack of updates on this site since I got to South Korea. I’ve been busy, it’s true, but sadly it’s not been the kind of busy that makes for particularly interesting travel tales. I’ve been drinking and living on a tiny budget; going on dates; making new friends; and finding my feet in a Korea that isn’t exactly as I’d left it. But my first pay check is just around the corner and my life is finally finding a bit of stability, so expect them to come thick and fast from here on in.

A Moon over Texas Street

As far as tourist sights go the obvious choices in Busan include Haeundae Beach, the world famous Jagalchi Fish Markets, or any of its numerous temple sites or gorgeous parks. But there’s a little known (and considerably seedier) corner of Busan that often goes overlooked by visitors to the city that labels itself Dynamic Busan.

Named after a state where everything is apparently bigger, Texas Street is a surprisingly small stretch of road across from Busan Station and smooshed into the side of Chinatown like a malignant, lascivious tumor. For a few blocks you’re almost able to forget you’re in South Korea as you walk dimly lit streets that reek of perfume, desperation, and cheap whiskey.

Byron makes a few friends at Paradise Bar on Texas Street

Filipino women wearing little more than a smile aggressively attempt to lure you into their den of iniquity whilst burly Russians seem to walk the streets looking for lonely hearts to ply with promises of sex with women who saw better days a decade or more ago.

Where the Filipino women at least disguise their wares with the unimaginative cries of ‘You want bang bang?’, the Russians instead use the universal sign of cock in vagina with their index finger thrust into a hole of their own creation.

“Hey, American,” he shouts at the two of us in an accent reminiscent of Cold War Era movies, “You want fuck my girlfriend?”

Being a Canadian and an Australia. We walk right on by. Yep, Texas Street is all class.

It’s not all pimps and prostitutes along Texas Street though. There’s Chinese and Filipino cuisine to be had in spades and you don’t need to be a trafficker of human flesh to indulge in a little of the human zoo. In a country where prostitution is ostensibly illegal, it’s on display in this particular corner of Busan in the same ostentatious way as Seoul’s infamous ‘Hooker Hill’ on the fringes of Itaewon.

On this particular night it was closing in on 3am when my good friend Byron (from Byron & His Backpacks) and I decided to make an unscheduled stop off. I’d heard tales from female friends of being asked ‘how much?’ as they’d walked Texas Street by day, and we were certainly not left alone for long as the doors flew open and women of varying degrees of attractiveness stepped out and attempted to entice us.

I’m a sucker for a new experience and Byron’s no different, so we soon found ourselves in a bar named Paradise with a menu of ridiculously overpriced drinks in front of us.

“It’s on me,” Byron assured me as he nonchalantly ordered a white martini. I ordered a Pepsi.

It wasn’t long before we each had a woman sitting beside us in our modest booth. The lights were low and generic US Hip-Hop and R&B played as our ‘girls’ introduced themselves. We were under no illusions that we were in the company of some of Texas Street’s famed ‘juicy girls’.

A juicy girl is essentially a woman you pay to tease you. She’s not going to have sex with you, but she is going to flirt with you and potentially do a little more as long as you keep buying her drinks. And while our white martinis came at $8 a pop – the girls’ drinks went for a more handsome sum of $20. The girls get to keep 4000 won of every drink that is bought for them and the remainder goes to the house.

Byron and his pretty Filipino friend hit it off, while I was more interested in what brought my Russian friend (with an unpronounceable name and more sass than I’d expect from a girl in her industry) to Korea of all places. I’m under no illusions that it probably wasn’t completely voluntary. I don’t know how long we stayed in the club, but the sun was on the rise when we stepped out into the chill morning air and decided it was time for a bite to eat and some much needed sleep.

It’s not the kind of thing I’d do again, and never as a legitimate customer, but it was an interesting (and slightly depressing) look at an often overlooked part of life abroad and life in Korea. It might be a nation where sex is a dirty word and only had in cheap love motels, but there are veins where the slime reaches the surface and it’s a stronger man than me who can turn his eyes away from it.

Two good Christian boys thoroughly overwhelmed by the sin and depravity of it all

It’s not going to be for everybody. The Russian men can be a bit intimidating in their pitch and there’s something dead in the eyes of the forty something women dressed like Ke$ha who prowl the streets after peak hour has finished. But it’s a long way from kimchi, noraebangs, and crowded markets. Sometimes that’s worth stepping outside of your comfort zone.

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  • http://byronjdkerr.wordpress.com Beeker

    So my version is up now. And I think we both had the same sort of experience. I mean, I wouldn’t that for the world, but at the same time I have no real inclination to return to Texas Street. As a one-off experience it was both entertaining and depressing but not something I’d want to revisit with any regularity.

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  • Jvoyager

    I’m a little annoyed by your post.  I did some volunteer work in the Philippines against sex trafficking and see it as nothing to joke about.  I did read the whole thing, and I appreciate your acknowledgement that these women most likely weren’t there voluntarily.  But putting your photo up there with your buddy’s and saying that 2 Christian guys shocked, etc. was in poor taste.  You were in an area that most likely had trafficked women, and making light of it, however unintentionally, speaks to your understanding of how bad this junk really is.
    You are a good writer, and I’m glad you went there.  Next time, please consider what message you’re sending when writing about something like this.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=591147692 Chris Walker-Bush

      Although I only wrote this post eighteen or so months ago, it’s safe to say I’ve grown up a lot from the kid who experienced this and wrote about it was such a cavalier attitude. Having spent more time in poorer regions of Asia, it’s certainly not something I’d do (or write so light-heartedly about) again in future.

      • http://twitter.com/Caribearblue Cari 캐리

        If only more people were aware of sex trafficking and took it more seriously… the sad thing is you don’t have to go to the other side of the world to know about it, it is pretty common in the U.S. as well. Guys need to take a second look when they visit a strip club… there are trafficked girls in many of them :-/ They cracked down on trafficking in a strip club a few years ago near Detroit when I lived in the suburbs… yeah, it’s Detroit… but it was only a 20 minute drive from where I lived.

    • peter

      fuckup you righteous fuckwit….

    • J C

      Forced labor and sex slavery has come a long way since a century ago. Heck, good ol’ US was built on the blood and lives of untold millions of African/Asian/Mexican slaves. In 2013, human trafficking still exist, but the feminazis and the PC-touchy-feelies have blown it way out of proportion. I’m against underage sex and forced rape in any shape or form, but when you start to regulate the sex behavior of mature adults and women of legal age, I, like a lot of these women, would just politely ask you to stay the F out of their sex lives and stop trying to regulate and moralize their lifestyle. In a lot of these places you are crying sex-trafficking, you are barking up the wrong trees. Many girls there aren’t asking to be rescued, they can walk up to any police any time if they are really being forced into sexual labor. Let me give you a clue, most of them are there voluntarily because they can’t find decent jobs where they came from. Think about this, they are getting paid more than most girls of their peers being paid and most of them are happy. Just looking at the picture of the 2 girls, they look more happy than most girls I’ve met in the West. If they weren’t selling their skin in Busan, it will be in Pattaya or Singapore, and even if every righteous country ban sex-4-cash, you can’t get rid of the oldest profession and most primitive need in humans. Girls will always find a way to leverage their sexuality. It’s your right to make sex so exclusive in the West that only the most diligent/special guy of your dreams (willing to put up with all your unrealistic demands) deserves your ‘love’, but don’t get jealous when some women don’t use sex as a tool the way you do. In the 60′s US, women use to give free love, those were the good ole days. Nowadays most of these ladies are just trying to survive and help their family. If anyone is to blame, blame the corrupt government that takes everything and leaves crumbs for its own people. So good for you that you are doing volunteer work. I’m sure all the hours and effort spent, you may have found a drop in the ocean of the real human-trafficking. Wake up! The real culprits are the kidnappers and pedophiles who will never apply their evil trade in such these showy entertainment zone, they are hidden far away from the limelight, in forbidden rooms and nameless buildings, always changing, run by mafia and evil people with secret black books and “unknown” cell numbers that perverted Politicians and rich perverts call upon to satisfy and full their darkest fantasies. Unless you plan to financially support these ‘poor trafficked women’, most of the girls really gives a sh**t about your feminazi crusades. Just do your voluntarily work and make yourself feel like you are doing something good and go back to your pampered lifestyle.

      • CWB

        Thanks for your thoughts, mate. It’s definitely a subject in muddy waters and one I seem to bounce around on quite a bit. You’re right that there are certainly merits to the industry under the status quo that exists, and I do agree that some people get overly righteous about it from their high horse.

        But by the same token, I can also see the negative side to it and especially to sex tourism.

        I guess it’s always going to be a divisive issue. It’s one I’d love to write more on. Just as long as I could avoid being lynched, haha

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  • http://www.facebook.com/nightlogic J.D. Greenfield

    Wow, thanks man. What a trip down memory lane. Sounds like Texas St has not changed in the many years since I enjoyed it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=591147692 Chris Walker-Bush

      It’s certainly an odd place, although it isn’t for everybody. When were you in Busan?

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  • DS

    Sounds like the Russian mob has taken over T Street. I spent two tours in Busan, back in the 70′s and it was only Koraen ladies. I partied there almost every night. That was the good times, trust me. My wife is from Jin Ju and maybe one day we will get back there, but the mob and I won’t get along very well. I would not be able to handle the sex slave trade. And Filipino ladies, wow, now that’s really out of the ball park.

    • CWBush

      Aside from Russians, we didn’t see any other ‘western’ looking people there. Most of the partying in Busan these days is done in Haeundae or by one of the universities. Not a lot of people even know Texas Street is there.

  • Stan Bruce

    Busan really is an interesting place to party, you’ve nailed it with your post here. If I could share some more recent experiences, I visited Busan in early 2015 and posted some nightlife reviews on my blog (http://www.nightlifereviews.net/category/asia/south-korea/busan-nightlife-reviews/). The best place I found was definitely Club Fix, and I recommend it to visitors who want to sample one of Busan’s better clubs. Hope your travels are going well, fellow Aussie!

    • CWBush

      I’ve not heard of any of those clubs, but clubbing was never really my scene when I called Busan home. The closest I’d come was the dinginess of Kino Eye, haha.