Korat Bar girls
March 26, 2006 2:55 AM   Subscribe

Korat bar girls. R and R from the Indochina war.
posted by the cuban (43 comments total)
posted by the cuban at 3:16 AM on March 26, 2006

If it's a photo restoration place that specializes in removing stains, why are the men still blotted out?
posted by DenOfSizer at 3:53 AM on March 26, 2006

because there is no chance some poor brown person is going to sue you. maybe not the case with the GIs
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 4:18 AM on March 26, 2006

Holy crap that's creepy-skeezy.
posted by loquacious at 4:25 AM on March 26, 2006

Yeah, serisouly. Let's protect the identity of the Americans. We wouldn't want to embarass them or their families. Screw the "natives," literally. Who cares what they may think about having such photos published. I mean, who could tell who's in the pictures anyway. They all look the same, right?
posted by bigtex at 5:29 AM on March 26, 2006

< / sarcasm> in case you couldn't tell

I just think that if these are going to be put up online, it is pretty crass to be so obviously selective in who gets censored.
posted by bigtex at 5:33 AM on March 26, 2006

I was fascinated by the photos but disappointed the GI's faces were removed.

Thanks for the post cuban.
posted by birdherder at 7:09 AM on March 26, 2006

Yeah, the whole thing is pretty creepy. The 2nd most disturbing thing (besides the white man protection) is the complete lack of context and/or text. This may as well be vintage porn. I think the FPP should've handled provided some of that; a freaking Korat Wiki entry would've helped (I just checked and it turns out all they have is a link about an exotic breed of cat.) A quick google search about korat girls has led me quickly to some pretty nasty stuff. I've learned nothing about this history.
posted by DenOfSizer at 7:12 AM on March 26, 2006

The exploitation continues...
posted by mrmojoflying at 7:15 AM on March 26, 2006

"What happens on tour stays on tour" would be the biggest reason for the face-hiding.
posted by crocos at 7:17 AM on March 26, 2006

Aside from the poor cropping of faces it's still a nice collection of rather intimate photos. Thanks for the post!
posted by furtive at 7:19 AM on March 26, 2006

Who's getting exploited here? Don't believe in true love, mrmojoflying?

Anyone interested in this complex topic, I loved "Hello, My Big Honey!"... letters to and from Thai bar girls by johns. The johns often fall in love and get burned; the bar girls might have three or four "boyfriends" in the West, all of them sending money for "grandma's medicine" - I don't think the exploitation is so cut and dried. Sometimes the bar girls fall in love. People are people. As regards these photos, there does seem to be a double standard, though.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:27 AM on March 26, 2006

Oh, the whorror.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:48 AM on March 26, 2006

What I like about these photos is how similar they are to the red-light districts of Pattaya and Hua Hin today, only without the beehive hairdos.

And Meatbomb's got it right. Knee-jerk cries about exploitation like mrmojoflying's comment reveal an ignorance of a complex situation.
posted by soiled cowboy at 7:56 AM on March 26, 2006

Heh. Brought back memories; I was stationed near Udorn, Thailand from early 1974 through most of 1975, and it's been a good twenty or more years since I thought about that scene in that place and time. Even though the photos here date from a slightly earlier time and a couple hundred miles away, there is a timelessness to the situation: Young men, far from home, in an alien (to them) environment.

The girls all seem to look better in memory than on film; undoubtedly a self-protective mental filter. Or we were less choosy as young men. Or we were blitzed out of our minds by rice whiskey that cost a nickel a liter.

I am amused by the people who pontificate about exploitation from the safe distance of 30 years and 12 thousand miles away from where it happened. Surely thay are better people than I am, and I should perhaps just shut up and go away, right?
posted by pjern at 8:39 AM on March 26, 2006

This girl must have been popular juding by how many blow-up sex dolls have been modeled after her.
posted by lemonfridge at 8:57 AM on March 26, 2006

I too am baffled by the decision to black out the American's faces.

It was forty years ago. Afraid to tell the wife that you danced with a Thai girl 40 years ago?
posted by Ynoxas at 9:33 AM on March 26, 2006

Actually some of these women are possibly grandmas living in the US right now.

I wouldn't be so quick to assume they wouldn't know about these pics being online.

Meanwhile the Thai bar scene is what it has been for decades. A lot of those women were tricked or sold into it-their hilltribe families couldn't afford to feed them.
posted by konolia at 12:14 PM on March 26, 2006

A lot of those women were tricked or sold into it-their hilltribe families couldn't afford to feed them.

Konolia, I'll put it to you that you don't what you're talking about. There is no denying that many sex workers in Thailand end up that way through the means you refer to, but these unfortunate girls almost always work in brothels which cater exclusively to the Thai population. The women who work the current red-light districts that cater to Western men are not from the hill-tribes, nor are they tricked or sold into the business by their families. These facts are pretty well documented.
posted by soiled cowboy at 12:25 PM on March 26, 2006

Brought back memories; I was stationed near Udorn, Thailand from early 1974 through most of 1975

Solipsist, I was in Udorn recently and it's one of my favorite places in the world. Very few foreigners there now, and it seems like a sleepy little backwater during the day. You can take a book to the lake and relax all afternoon. But at night the students from the two local universities go absolutely, uncontrollably wild -- I've never seen Thai people get down like they do Udorn. I've taken several skeptical visitors up there and they all agree it's like no other place in the country.
posted by soiled cowboy at 12:32 PM on March 26, 2006

I just think that if these are going to be put up online, it is pretty crass to be so obviously selective in who gets censored.

It's possible the pictures were censored before they were restored.

There are some pictures where white guy's faces show up in the background. Or one at least.
posted by delmoi at 1:02 PM on March 26, 2006

Korat is also spelled Khorat and also known as Nakhon Ratchasima. Yes the photos need more explanation and context. Some labelled Korat in the other sections are in Bangkok, for starters. These pictures sure are doing the rounds, they are even in the wikipedia entry.

But they are good photos.
posted by zog at 1:26 PM on March 26, 2006

Knee-jerk cries about exploitation like mrmojoflying's comment reveal an ignorance of a complex situation.

Let me brush that chip off your shoulder, sir. I was simply making the, perhaps uncareful, general comment about the nature of the sex trade. Or maybe these women were at the top of the entrepreneurial ladder that supports their work? Maybe, but my uneducated guess is, though, that they probably paid at least 50% of their money in kickbacks not to mention required medical fees, legitimate taxes, etc., which would put them on par with legalized prostitutes in the United States...who have it pretty good as far as these things go.

I think that decontextualized nature in which these photos are presented, by the airman who owns the photo restoration company (and who probably took them when he was stationed in Thailand and/or blacked out the faces) doesn't do much for a better understanding of the womens' or the GIs' situations. The subjects of the photos are presented mainly to satisfy our fancy for the exotic -- otherwise they would be included with attempts at educating viewers, which you seem to be in support of.
posted by mrmojoflying at 2:11 PM on March 26, 2006

Cool stuff. Great MP3s, too.
posted by squirrel at 2:45 PM on March 26, 2006

Lemonfridge, you made me laugh out loud.

Also, what's up with the very last photo? All of the photos proceeding follow a pattern of respectability, and then at the end they throw this bomb at you.

It certainly makes me wish they hadn't stopped there.
posted by Jonasio at 3:37 PM on March 26, 2006

Must've had some DAMN STRONG DRUGS there.
posted by HTuttle at 3:44 PM on March 26, 2006

"Must've had some DAMN STRONG DRUGS there"

No kidding. Did he just photograph the fugliest girls he could find? I was in Thailand for two weeks and most of the women I saw there were smoking hot...
posted by banishedimmortal at 4:39 PM on March 26, 2006

The women who work the current red-light districts that cater to Western men are not from the hill-tribes, nor are they tricked or sold into the business by their families. These facts are pretty well documented.

Provide some sources, then.
posted by jennyb at 4:39 PM on March 26, 2006


Here's a few sources that directly contradict your claim, soiled cowby. But maybe you shouldn't read them or you might not be able to "party" in Thailand with such a clear conscious.
posted by jennyb at 4:48 PM on March 26, 2006

Jennyb, the references you listed make it quite clear you don't know what you think you're talking about. I searched them and couldn't find one contradiction to my statement: the women who work in the Western-oriented red-light districts are neither from the hill-tribes nor sold into the business. Read through your links and find something that contradicts that, please.

I am not saying that sex slaves don't exist in Thailand, but those places that operate with indentured women and hill-tribe girls are oriented towards Thais, and secondarily Malaysian sex tourists.

The book cited above contains a forward by Yos Santasombat, Faculty of Sociology and Anthropology, Thammasat University which references his studies in the subject. His research reveals what is obvious to anyone with any familiarity of the subject: The women who work in those Western-oriented areas are predominantly from Isaan, not the hill-tribes. Additionally the establishments in those areas that employ prostitutes operate not as brothels but more as meeting places where the women are not only expected to negotiated their own terms of employment, the are free to refuse customers as well.

From his forward:
"here is a marked difference between the Western conception of prostitution, and the open-ended prostitution in Patpong or Pattaya. Because in the West, you see prostitution as an occupation. You go to them directly and then you strike a deal, and then you go straight to business

But in Thailand, the girls don't usually talk about the price at first. They would try to establish rapport first. We're not talking about a piecemeal type of relationship that describes other forms of prostitution in the West. In the cases here, the Thai girls themselves are prepared to extend their relationship for a number of days or weeks or even years. Sometimes the farang (foreigner usually from West) himself ends up spending the entire vacation with one girl and sometimes he comes back. Sometimes she becomes his mistress or even a wife.


Once the relationship is extended, the girls' involvement with the farang often gradually changes. Her stay with the man is usually conditioned upon his readiness to support her or to take care of her financially. The line between money and love becomes very fuzzy, because the money itself cannot be distinguished between signs of affection, tender caring and love itself. Mutual or material dependence frequently engenders some sort of an emotional attachment on the part of the girl herself.

So, what starts out as a money-orientated transactional arrangement becomes a mixed involvement, a more complicated relationship. In extreme cases it becomes even possible that the attachment comes from pure emotion. It somehow gradually detaches itself from the material aspects or the money. And in prolonged cases, open-ended prostitution can be characterized as an ambiguous compliment of love and money."

There's a source. Quite simply, you have no idea of the subleties of my statement so take your ill-informed and judgemental assertions elsewhere. Or, more easily, STFU.
posted by soiled cowboy at 6:17 PM on March 26, 2006

Soiled cowboy, I don't know that it matters much to the girls who they are forced to service, but I have been to Thailand and I know of ministries that provide a place to live and job training to young women trying to escape that life. I also know of organizations that provide marketing of goods made by hilltribe women to enable them to make money-again, so they aren't forced by circumstance to wind up in the sex trade.

Sex trafficking of young women and girls is a reality in that country. Some of it is voluntary and much of it is not.
posted by konolia at 7:55 PM on March 26, 2006

And yes, some of them marry farangs and come to this country-or other countries depending on the nationality of said farang. Some marriages work out, some do not. But I assume such a marriage is a good thing for the girl, if indeed it works out.
posted by konolia at 7:56 PM on March 26, 2006

konolia, nobody is saying that sex trafficking does not exist in Thailand. My problem is that statements like yours create the false impression that all of the prostitutes in Thailand are forced into it or come from impoverished hill tribes. Those idea are simply wrong.
posted by soiled cowboy at 8:31 PM on March 26, 2006

And as for the Western missionaries operating amongst the hilltribes of Thailand: they're not quite as evil as the human traffickers, but they're certainly insidious and damaging in their disruptions and corruptions of indigenous cultures and beliefs, delivering aid wrapped in foreign religious ideology like an apple with a razor blade inside. But that's an entirely different subject for a different thread.
posted by soiled cowboy at 8:43 PM on March 26, 2006

And by the way, jennyb, your implication that I consort with sex slaves is fucking vile and offensive. You know not a fucking thing about me and yet you feel you can make an such an utterly despicable judgement. I think you owe me an apology.
posted by soiled cowboy at 10:33 PM on March 26, 2006

Excellent photos, a great post.
posted by OmieWise at 5:11 AM on March 27, 2006

I also thought Nakhon Ratchasima ('Khorat') was one of my favorite places to visit in Thailand. It didn't have that permiating feeling that the entire city was propped up on tourist dollars. Instead, it was just a regular city, with a mall, parking garages, homes... it felt so normal in comparison to the rest of Thailand.

When I was there I made a point to stop in the local VFW (supposedly the best place in Thailand to get a cheeseburger) and met a few aging Vietnam-era GI's who had married some of the girls in those photos.

As for prostition in Thailand... the girls that most white folk see in the bars on the major-thoroughfares weren't sold into slavery or any such nonsense. More likely they are poor farming girls from Isaan, the poorest area of Thailand, who went to the "big city" with promises of easy cash. The real tragedy is that a lot of them wind up addicted to Yah-bah (amphetamines) while their abusive boyfriends spend most of their dough they made off their Cowai ("water buffalos"--fat, ugly, old foriegners). But that story doesn't have any of the drama of "Kidnapped! Children! Slavery!" so it's noticeably absent from most of the bleeding hearts in the crowd.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:11 AM on March 27, 2006

Find me a military base not within marching distance of a knocking shop and I will be stunned.

Sort-of, kind-of off topic warning
The ties between sex trafficking and military prostitution exist but are not clearly marked - it's something I am looking into at the moment, partially with an eye to an FPP but also because the thought of it happening in this day and age is a total disgrace. I do recall stories of Eastern European girls being brought in to service the troops during the '91 Gulf War, some of whom had been abducted from their homes. The stories got worse during the Balkan conflicts. The BHHRG (a British NGO who report may not be 100% accurate) stated at the time -

"In addition, the West has helped to create the demand, by stationing tens of thousands of troops in the Balkans. Not all of these sex slaves’ clients are soldiers and international workers, but their presence has greatly fuelled the demand for brothels in the Balkans. Certainly, the volume of trafficking, which picked up in the spring of 1999 as soon as Nato troops arrived in Macedonia in anticipation of military strikes against Yugoslavia, has greatly increased since the Kosovo war."

Amnesty International may perhaps be more reliable and they report much the same thing taking place with the addition of highlighting the part that UN forces took an active part in the proceedings -

"From January 2002 to July 2003, between 22 and 27 members of KFOR troops were suspected of offences related to trafficking, according to the UNMIK Police Trafficking and Prostitution Unit (TIPU). TIPU was unable to provide further information to Amnesty International as to whether any disciplinary proceedings had been taken against these individuals."

The situation after the break up of the Soviet Union got so bad that swathes of young women were sold as sex slaves (sometimes by their parents), abducted from schools or promised high paying jobs in the west. Every time I start researching this shit it drives me up the wall - there are girls not 800 yards from where I work (right next to a redlight district in Sheffield) who were either abducted or sold into perennial slavery and there's not a goddamn thing I can do about it. Sure, some might get reported to the IND and some might get sent home but that accomplishes nothing for those being used and abused right now.
posted by longbaugh at 6:49 AM on March 27, 2006

soiled cowboy, one last comment, and I'll "STFU," per your request. You believe that Western men are the saviors of prostitutes in third-world countries. I think that Western men engaging in the sex trade in third-world countries, regardless of how the women got into the business, represents an opportunistic exploitation of women experiencing poverty, drug addiction, low societal status, and desperation. It's not a contract entered into by two people of equal bargaining power by any means. Whether some men end up marrying these women does nothing to change the oppressive, misogynistic social framework within which these women are forced to survive. As a matter of a fact, the involvement of Western men on any level, be it through financial support or eventual "saving" of women from their situation supports and perpetuates the entire system.

And I didn't suggest you consort with sex slaves. I suggested you take part in the sex trade in third world countries and use delusional justifications to make yourself feel better about it. I happen to think that's a vile and offensive past time, but you seem to think you're doing those women a favor, so I'm not sure why you're getting so offended. You clearly don't value my opinion, so what do you care if I think what you do is reprehensible?

I will direct your attention to a book which addresses the sex trade in other countries: Listening to Olivia by Jody Raphael. It focuses mainly on domestic prostitution, but it also discusses prositution in other nations, mostly as a comparative study. The discussion centers on the lack of power and therefore choice that women have that sends them into prostitution. Even when women aren't forced into the work through kidnapping, it is rarely if ever a free choice made by someone with plentiful and attractive alternative options.
posted by jennyb at 8:14 AM on March 27, 2006

Jennyb, I don't value your opinion because it's misinformed, as evidenced by your posting of irrelevant references, and also because you seem unable to forward that opinion without making unwarranted personal attacks. This makes a serious discussion of the subject impossible, which is unfortunate because you seem otherwise intelligent. The subject is whether the women in the photos, and those currently working in the Western-oriented sex establishments in Thailand, are from the hill-tribes or are sex slaves. You haven't been able to refute this, and in fact you haven't even addressed it.

I haven't read the book you cite, but I'm not sure how relevant it is to the subject of this very specific type of Thai prostitution, judging by this description: "Olivia’s own insights on her turbulent childhood, stripping in clubs, soliciting on the street, drug addiction, brutal pimps, her three pregnancies, and her extraordinary transformation highlight important new questions..."

Trying to understand the sex trade in Thailand through the prism of the Western prostitution experience ignores the complexity of prostitution in Thailand as a whole, its position in the context of Thai society and culture, and the factors that make up the specific type of prostitution under discussion. There is a long history of prostitution in Thailand, sanctioned by the highest levels of society, and currently operating on every frequency of the social spectrum. The sex industry in Thailand is highly diversified and conditions vary widely, but the particular facet of the Western-oriented sex trade at issue includes a strong and supportive sisterhood of fellow sex workers who view themselves with self respect, who maintain a relatively affluent lifestyle and who often choose prostitution over other readily available "legitimate" jobs. Seeing the situation as simple exploitation by Whitey ignores the complicated reality of the Thai/Western prostitute/client dynamic which is documented in the book cited above.

For the record, my position on the matter is support for legalization of prostitution and decriminalization of the sex workers, as is it found in New Zealand and other progressive nations, to further empower and protect the sex workers. This is not a "delusional" position formulated through browsing an irrelevant book on a separate issue, as seems to be your case, but rather one I arrived at through consideration of the particular localized circumstances, an awareness of the universal human principles you mention, and reading informed texts. That there can be fair and equitable sexual transactions between Western males and Thai prostitutes (from any social strata) is a belief not just of lustful Western men but of serious Thai scholars.

Furthermore, your assumptions about my actions and motives are both wrong and laughable (Western men are the "saviors" of prostitutes?), but my personal life is not the issue here. The fact that you tried to make it so is despicable and I suspect you brought it up only because you can't comment on the true subject with any degree of legitimacy. In any case, I see no point in continuing to talk to someone who engages in these kinds of assholish tactics. In conclusion: You made simpleminded judgements about a subject you don't fully understand and a person you don't know. Unfortunately you're probably smart enough to grasp the basic concepts but unable to discuss them without resorting to personal attacks. So: either leave your ignorant nonsense-spouting to conservative douchebags, unless you're one of them, or, again, just STFU.
posted by soiled cowboy at 12:25 PM on March 27, 2006

Soiled Cowboy— You might take a page from Civil Disobedient, who managed to be both right and, well, civil.
posted by klangklangston at 1:02 PM on March 27, 2006

Klangklangston, that's probably good advice. I got a little worked up over the personal attack, though.
posted by soiled cowboy at 1:14 PM on March 27, 2006

You believe that Western men are the saviors of prostitutes in third-world countries.

Way out of line. jennyb has imputed motivations and opinions to soiled cowboy that are not expressed in any of his posts. I don't blame soiled cowboy for being pissed.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 1:25 PM on March 27, 2006

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