A club in Seoul is currently engulfed in a controversy as its latest policy to ban foreigners due to MERS has been considered to be an act of racism.
The controversy began when an Irish journalist, John Power, tried to enter Lounge & Club Move located in Itaewon. While his Korean friends got in with no issues, John Power was denied entry after being told of the club’s “no foreigner” policy.
In an initial interview following the incident, the club’s general manager Lee Su Bin supported the bouncer’s decision to turn John Power away, saying that foreigners have caused a lot of trouble in the past by committing sexual harassment, breaking the club’s properties, and starting fights. He added, “Men from the Middle East treat women like slaves. They sexually harass women all the time.”
However, after being accused of committing racism, the club’s owner, Kim Jong Hyun, requested for the news to be taken down. He explained, “We absolutely don’t accept foreigners because of MERS. Above all, Korean people don’t want them. This is Korea, isn’t it?”
He also added, “Close friends and regular customers tell me that they are scared of coming to Itaewon because of foreigners,” explaining that the latest move is to save its business from a dire situation as sales have been dropping ever since the outbreak of MERS.
Kim Jong Hyun then continued to support the policy, stating, “The biggest reason that we deny service to foreigners is MERS but you cannot rule out the fact that they are troublesome. Most of the time when a customer loses a cellphone, the CCTV reveals that the thieves are Middle Eastern people or foreigners.”
In regards to the club’s responses, John Power expressed, “The ignorance speaks for itself.”