By Yi Whan-woo
Police said Sunday they had uncovered a suspected brothel operating in a nine-story building, and fronted by a hostess bar and hotel, in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul.
Officers said they found more than 100 females working there as prostitutes.
The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said it arrested the 35-year-old bar owner, surnamed Jung, in its raid on Jan. 10 for hiring the women as "hostesses" since June 2010 and asking them to engage in prostitution.
Police suspect almost every floor of the building was used as a brothel. Jung ran at least three floors, including one in the basement, as a hostess bar where the women served liquor to male customers and performed oral sex, according to investigators.
They added a large number of the customers were escorted to hotel rooms between the sixth and ninth floors, paying 330,000 won ($310) for sex with the hostesses.
Police are expanding the probe to find out whether Jung was also the owner of the hotel and headed the prostitution racket.
"It's not common for a hostess bar and a hotel to be located in the same building," an officer said. "We're trying to find out whether the operator of the two places is the same person and if so, we'll look into whether the person ran both places on the same site for the purpose of prostitution."
A detective said Jung earned an average of 24 million won ($22,000) each day, adding his total income since he started the prostitution business was estimated at 20 billion won ($18.9 million).
Jung's operation was "well-organized," according to police.
"His marketing included an early-bird system, under which a customer visiting the bar for sex before 8 p.m. only had to pay 280,000 won ($260)," an investigator said.
Police also rounded up 19 other people, including hostesses and customers, during a raid on the building.
All of the women who were apprehended will be accompanied by a human rights lawyer during questioning to protect their privacy and their rights.
Since last year, police have arrested several pimps in southern Seoul, including in Gangnam, one of the most affluent districts in the country.