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Amendment is needed to protect Korea’s children

Dec 08,2017
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As the number of adult shops in Seoul increases, many parents have expressed concern on the new openings. The problem is that there is no clear statutory provision which prohibits shop owners from invading residential areas.

The Educational Environment Protection Act sets out “Protected Areas,” which are 200 meters (656 feet) from the boundary line from a school or a location to be used for a school in the future. The Act also sets forth “Strictly Protected Area,” which is 50 meters from the school’s main entrance. In most cases, the dispute arises at the area which is just outside of the Protected Area since many shop owners are familiar with the Protected Area.

There is a regulatory loophole. Although recreational facilities are prohibited in residential and quasi-residential areas under the National Land Planning and Utilization Act, there is no statutory provision which explicitly provides that an adult shop is a type of recreational facility under the Building Act. The Enforcement Decree of the Building Act enumerates 5 types of recreational facilities, including casino business offices and dance studios. The footnote furthers that business facilities which the juvenile’s entry and employment is prohibited under the Juvenile Protection Act, shall be excluded from Types 1 and 2 neighborhood living facilities.

In 2016, in order to fill the loophole, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport circulated internal guidelines which conveniently categorize adult shops as recreational facilities. By putting it together, adult shops are not permitted in residential and quasi-residential areas in Korea.

In New York City, adult establishments are regulated by zoning ordinance. The term, “adult establishment” includes an adult bookstore, adult restaurant, adult theater, other adult commercial establishment or any combination thereof. There are 3 types of districts in New York City: Residential (R), Commercial (C), and Manufacturing (M) districts.

There are some noticeable differences in the New York City Zoning Resolution.

First, an adult establishment is strictly prohibited in residential districts. Moreover, it is not permitted within the additional area up to 500 feet (150 meters) from the boundary line of the residential district. Second, an adult establishment is allowed in commercial and manufacturing districts in limited cases only. The former includes the Manhattan area, amusement parks, and car wash service areas, and the latter excludes any districts with Joint Living-Work Quarters for Artists such as Soho.

Third, no adult establishment shall be established less than 500 feet from a school and house of worship. Fourth, there is a criminal penalty provision for zoning violation. Building owners, leasees, tenants, real estate brokers, or any other person who takes part in any violation shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

It is time to take immediate action to protect children from invasive expansion by adult shops into residential areas. This can be done by simply adding an adult shop as a new type of the recreational facility under the Building Act.

*The author is a visiting professor at Graduate School of International Studies (GSIS) at the Yonsei University and an attorney-at-law. Write to junseong@hotmail.com.

An Junseong