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Women’s groups protest Seoul Sexpo

Seoul, Korea- Women’s groups are enraged about the first-ever sex expo in Seoul, a four-day event beginning tomorrow with promises of strip shows and lingerie exhibits.

“We will release a statement to condemn the event as obvious commercialization of women,” said an official at the Korea Women’s Associations United. The official said the group and other women’s groups would ask the Seoul Metropolitan City Government today to retract its approval for the event and the use of the center.

Sexpo Inc., the organizer of “2006 Seoul Sex Edu Expo,” said the event, to be held at COEX in southern Seoul, would bring together 60 international and domestic companies, featuring sex products, lingerie, health products and more.The convention has been held for about 10 years in Australia. “In China and Singapore, such conventions have been held for years and here we would censor the level of expression,” an official at the company said.

The event was originally scheduled for last month. However, the convention center got skittish because of an upcoming visit by new Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon, and abruptly canceled. Sexpo threatened to sue, and were allowed to hold the event this month.

The Seoul Business Center, the operator of the center, said, “We cannot control the contents of the convention. The police are responsible for obscenity inspections.” Police said the organizers’ plans for the event would not violate any laws.

The organizer also invited 11 adult magazine models from outside the country for strip shows and lingerie fashion shows.

“Many Korean actresses are now taking nude pictures and selling them. We thought that the trend shows that the sex industry is now recognized as an industry, not for the commercialization of women,” said Sohn Hyun-joon, an official at Sexpo Inc.

Back Story- The 2006 Seoul Sex Education Expo, which ostensibly seeks to enlighten the public about sexual health, will run Thursday to Sunday at the SETEC in Daechidong, Seoul. The 2006 Seoul Sexpo will feature seminars on sex, medical consultations, exhibitions of sex toys and accessories, lingerie fashion show, strip shows, a nude photo zone, kissing competitions and other events that provide visitors with the opportunity to experience most of what the adult industry has to offer, the sponsors say.

For the expo, 11 famous nude models including Penthouse Pets and Hustler models have come to Korea, and met the press at a promotional event on Tuesday. The original Sexpo has been held in Australia for 10 years now as an event for the adult industry to exhibit itself, and has also now spread to Singapore and other countries.

The Seoul Sexpo, which has the domestic rights, says it hopes to “provide accurate information about sex, foster a more open approach towards sex, and search for a means of revitalizing the flagging domestic adult industry.” Critics say the event is just a pretext to flog pornography. Those over 19 years of age may attend for W15,000 (US$1=W961).

The nude photo zone, where entrants can admire nudes from the leading adult magazines and even take pictures with glamour models, will cost an additional W20,000. “Sex shouldn’t be handled in a secretive, closed-off manner any more,” the organizers say, adding the expo aims to anchor a “healthy sex culture.” They appealed to the public to approach it with an open mind.

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