When visiting Seoul, South Korea, for the World Cup in 2002, soccer fans checking into their hotel rooms might smell the lingering odors of perfumed despair. They might discover a pair of stray handcuffs hanging in a closet. They might also notice that the bathroom contains a 10-gallon container of Vaseline. That's because government officials plan to use Seoul's notorious "love hotels" as legitimate tourist accommodations.
According to officials, the metropolitan area's 370 seedy love hotels -- traditionally used by hookers and those engaged in extramarital trysts -- will be transformed into "world inns" in preparation for the popular soccer championships. The next World Cup is the first to be held in Asia, and will be co-hosted by Japan and South Korea.
"Using the motels can help resolve the dire shortage of lodging facilities during the World Cup as well as find a good use for love hotels, which have become the source of moral headaches in the capital," a city official told the Korea Herald.
Authorities recently heard protests from civic groups and a young men's Christian association, asking the city to close the sleazy hot-sheet hovels located near residential districts where children live and play. To appease this crusade, the city intends to dispatch workers with hundreds of gallons of disinfectant and an arsenal of mops and sponges to clean up the hotels.
In addition to getting a good scrubbing, the hotels will be equipped with a modern booking system and translation services for foreigners. A new reservation system will connect the world inns to the 10 other Korean cities hosting World Cup soccer matches.
But if we can learn anything from history, an international sports championship held in a city of 11 million will always remain a magnet for prostitution and random consensual coitus. The room rates will just be higher than usual.