Chinese visitors are avoiding swanky nightclubs in Gangnam that had become something of a pilgrimage site for K-pop fans after a snowballing scandal swallowed up some of their idols.
The scandal focused on a nightclub called Burning Sun, which was owned by Seung-ri of boy band Big Bang and which was allegedly a hotbed of drug abuse and sexual impropriety.
One 25-year-old Chinese woman said, "Rumors spread among Chinese women that people spike their drinks in Gangnam nightclubs and drag them over to tables with groups of male customers."
At one club in Seocho-dong that used to be popular with Chinese visitors on Monday night, all 50 guests were Korean, and the situation was the same at another 2 km away. The only foreigners were two Caucasian men.
Instead, the bars and restaurants of the lower-end but trendy Hongik University neighborhood in northwestern Seoul are getting the benefit. Around 100 Chinese people were spotted entering one club in the area in the space of just an hour on Sunday night. A staffer at the club said, "Nightclubs in Gangnam were all the rage until late last year, but now most people come here instead."
Meanwhile, police on Tuesday said a 26-year-old Chinese staffer using the alias Anna who was a sort of hostess at Burning Sun and suspected of peddling drugs there has tested positive for drugs.
Anna was in charge of enticing wealthy Chinese customers to the nightclub. But she told police that the Chinese guests brought their own drugs and hostesses just took them when offered. Anna was arrested for drug abuse last September, and since then wealthy Chinese guests have reportedly given the nightclub a wide berth.
One staffer in a Gangnam hotel said, "Since the scandal broke we have seen a decline in the number of Chinese guests, including VIPs."
People wait in line outside a nightclub in the Hongik University area in Seoul on Sunday.