SEOUL ø The U.S. military has asked South Korea to ban lap dancing and other lewd acts at local nightclubs near its bases, saying they negatively impact military discipline.
The officials said the military was taking similar steps at other bases in the United States and overseas against lap dancing.
The U.S. Army's 2nd Infantry Division, which has 15,000 troops near the border with North Korea, recently sent letters to the South Korean Special Tourist Association and local mayors urging a crack down on lap dancing clubs near barracks.
Describing "client-focused exotic dancing" as the principal cause of worsening military discipline, the military letter called for local club owners to "prohibit any physical contact between dancers and (U.S.) customers." South Korean lap dancing clubs are totally dependent on American customers because they are not allowed to take local clients.
U.S. officials declined to specify what they meant by worsening military discipline.
"We are following trends in the United States," Lt. Col. Chris Bailey, the 2nd Infantry Division's assistant chief of staff, told the Stars & Stripes newspaper. The U.S. Forces Korea has consulted mainland laws banning lap dancing, he said.
The more than 90 American installations throughout South Korea have long been a source of friction between residents living near the U.S. facilities, who complain of pollution, noise and traffic from the U.S. bases and occasional crimes by American troops.
Many crimes committed by U.S. servicemen involve nightclubs near their barracks. Amid an increasing number of American troops accused of crimes, their legal protection has become a sensitive issues for the two governments.
"The USFK will root out any practices that go contrary to a positive environment for U.S. soldiers, Korean residents and people of all nationalities," said Chae Yang-To, a spokesman for the 2nd Infantry Division.
The United States maintains 37,000 troops in South Korea to help defend it from a potential conflict with North Korea under a bilateral defense treaty signed after the 1950-1953 Korean War.