(NOTE: The following Yahoo! Messenger chat occurred on July 13, 2005. "Lala" is a 20-year-old Indonesian college student
who worked as a receptionist at "Do Re Mi," a Korean-run karaoke club in central Jakarta, from mid-December 2004 to early
May 2005. All names have been changed and any identifying details removed, in order to protect both the innocent and the
Baeksu: Hi, how are you?
Lala: I'm doin' fine thxs.
Baeksu: Sleep well?
Lala: Yup. I'm ready for all types of questions.
Baeksu: So tell me a little about your family background...
Lala: My father comes from North Sumatra and my mom is Javanese. I was born in Jakarta in 1985.
Baeksu: What do your parents do?
Lala: My father is an employee for one of the television stations in Indonesia. My mom is a housewife, and also an independent
distributor for Herbalife. It's a product to lose weight from the US.
Baeksu: So they're middle-class?
Lala: I think so. Not poor, but not that rich.
Baeksu: What religion does your family follow?
Lala: We're Christian, not Catholic.
Baeksu: And you're a student, right?
Lala: Yup, I'm a college student. My major is Marketing Communication. I'm in my 2nd year now.
Baeksu: So when did you start working at Do Re Mi?
Lala: December 16, 2004.
Baeksu: How did you get the job there? How did you find out about it?
Lala: I saw the ad in the newspaper, Kompas. Based on that, I went to that place and applied for a receptionist position. I came
at 4pm, they interviewed me at 6pm and said they would call me if they accepted me. And less than an hour later, they called
to my house.
Baeksu: Why did you choose to apply there? Did you know it was Korean?
Lala: No, I really didn't know what kind of place it was. I thought it was a general office just like others. I mean, work from
9am to 5pm, you know?
Baeksu: What did the ad say?
Lala: They needed someone from 19-23 years old for a receptionist position at an international business club. I didn't know
international business club meant a karaoke place.
Baeksu: And what qualifications were necessary?
Lala: Good personality and appearance. Easy to communicate. They want you to look interesting... Most job qualifications like
Baeksu: "Communicate" means speak English, or just Bahasa Indonesia?
Lala: They didn't write in detail...
Baeksu: Look interesting means what?
Lala: I guess the way you dress, and also your face is not too bad, you're not fat, something like that. In Indonesia, to get an
entertainment job is not easy if you're fat or ugly.
Baeksu: And who interviewed you? Indonesian or Korean?
Lala: 2 Koreans. One of the bosses and the manager.
Baeksu: What were they like? Your first impression?
Lala: The boss was cool, because he didn't say anything. And the manager looked funny, because he's very fat.
Baeksu: Boss means owner?
Lala: Yeah, he's the 2nd owner. There's 3 owners, all Korean.
Baeksu: Were they nice or tough?
Lala: No special expression...
Baeksu: Did they speak Indonesian?
Lala: So-so, yeah. But sounds so funny!
Baeksu: So they didn't seem tough or scary? Not mafia?
Lala: No, just like other businessmen. Formal dress.
Baeksu: How old?
Lala: The owner is around 40-45. The manager is younger, about 27-37.
Baeksu: Before getting the job, what did you know or think about Korea? What was your impression of Korea?
Lala: Before I worked there, I thought there's not many Koreans in Indonesia. I never thought about Koreans before. I didn't
Baeksu: So you had no image or impression of Korea?
Lala: Not at all. I thought they're the same as Chinese, because of their eyes.
Baeksu: What kind of image does Korea have in Indonesia?
Lala: Indonesians never think anything about Koreans. Maybe just about Chinese.
Baeksu: By the way, were the two guys who interviewed you handsome?
Lala: Not at all. But the owner has a good style. He's so funky, and because of his style, he looks younger than his real age.
Baeksu: But the manager was fat and uncool?
Lala: He looks stupid, because of the way he talks and his face.
Baeksu: So after interview, when did you start? Right away?
Lala: The day after the interview.
Baeksu: Where was the club?
Lala: Around Sudirman Street. It's the most popular area in Jakarta.
Baeksu: Popular for what?
Lala: Most of the top companies in Jakarta are in Sudirman Street. It's an expensive area, for companies or hotels or apartments.
Baeksu: So lots of clubs and restaurants?
Lala: Correct. High-class clubs and restaurants. Do Re Mi is also a high-class place.
Baeksu: What did the club look like?
Lala: It looks good. It's just a one-story building, behind another building. From the outside at night, it looks elegant. Because
you can't hear the sounds from outside, many people don't realise it's a karaoke place.
Baeksu: What color was it?
Lala: No colour. Just, they used lights on the outside, like for a Christmas tree.
Baeksu: And what did it look like on the inside?
Lala: Just like a bar. But a bar with so many sexy ladies... Do Re Mi has 30 rooms...
Baeksu: Just rooms, or also an open bar area?
Lala: There's an open bar in the middle part, and then there's corridors on the left and right sides, just like in a hotel.
Baeksu: So when you interviewed for the job, what did they say you had to do?
Lala: They didn't explain to me what I should do. I learned from the other receptionists. They just said I had to work from 5pm
to 1am. That's all.
Baeksu: What was your monthly salary?
Lala: They also didn't tell me about my salary. But at the start, it was 600,000 rupiah (US$65).
Baeksu: And tips?
Lala: I got tips sometimes.
Baeksu: How many receptionists were there?
Baeksu: And what other kind of staff worked there?
Lala: There's a bottle keep, bartenders, doormen, security, technician, captain and madams.
Baeksu: How many madams?
Lala: The last time I was there, 6.
Lala: Yeah, all of them.
Baeksu: How many bartenders and doormen and security?
Lala: Bartenders=2. Doormen=3. Security is about 5 or 6.
Baeksu: And what is "captain" and "bottle keep"?
Lala: Bottle keep is a person who keeps your whisky if you don't drink it all that night. They write your name on the bottle and
also your company name, so the next time you come you don't have to order whisky again.
Baeksu: And captain?
Lala: Captain is one step before manager, like assistant manager. We have 2 managers, one Korean and one Indonesian.
Baeksu: And what about the hostesses? How many were there?
Lala: More than a hundred! On their salary, their position name is "public relations." I'm not close to them, but I know a few of
Baeksu: All Indonesian?
Lala: Yeah, all. Most of them are still in college, and some are high school students. Some others already have a child.
Baeksu: What did they look like?
Lala: Some of them are beautiful, some the opposite. But one thing that I know: They look very ugly and not at all nice without
Baeksu: How did they dress?
Lala: They have a schedule from the company for what they have to follow every day. For example: Monday they should wear
an evening dress, Tuesday is a beach dress, etc.
Baeksu: You said some were in high school. What was the age of the youngest girl working there?
Lala: Believe it or not, 16.
Baeksu: Just one or several?
Lala: A few.
Baeksu: And you said a lot were in college... Not country girls?
Lala: Yeah, most of them are not poor. They live in apartments.
Baeksu: Did they speak foreign languages?
Lala: Some of them can speak Korean or Chinese, but not much. Most of them can just speak Indonesian.
Baeksu: Anyway, they were hostesses, right? What did they have to do?
Lala: They have to stay with our guests in a karaoke room, sing and get drunk with them. And if the Koreans are interested and
need more, they will ask the girl to go out with them to a hotel: 800,000 rupiah for long time, 500,000 rupiah for short time. The
Korean must pay to Do Re Mi if they want the girl to go out with them.
Baeksu: How do you know those prices?
Lala: The cashier is my friend. Oops, I forgot to tell you: We have 3 cashiers.
Baeksu: How often did the customers go out with the girls? What percentage?
Lala: 60% of them go out with the girls.
Baeksu: How many customers came in an average night?
Lala: We calculate based on the room, not individually like that...
Baeksu: So how many groups per night?
Lala: Depends on the day. 20-23.
Baeksu: And how many men in one group on average?
Lala: Depends on the room. There's Standard, VIP and Executive rooms. The largest, VIP, is for 10-15 people.
Baeksu: And Executive is the best?
Lala: Yes. Just 2 rooms are Executive. And it must be an owner's guest. An important person, with an owner's permission.
Baeksu: So the average group had maybe 2-6 people?
Baeksu: What type of customers came? Mostly Korean?
Lala: 85% Korean. The others are Japanese, Indonesian, also bules (Westerners) and Indians. But usually bules never have their
own group. Bules always join with Koreans.
Baeksu: So what was your impression of the Korean customers at the beginning?
Lala: I was surprised. Bules are more... better than Koreans. I hated them at first.
Baeksu: How so?
Lala: They're not polite.
Baeksu: What did they do? What types of behavior?
Lala: Most of them are naughty. They always tried to touch or kiss or anything.
Baeksu: To you?
Lala: To most of the female staff, especially the youngest like me. They always tried to touch my breasts, asked me do I want to
live with them or inviting me to their apartment, and so many impolite questions.
Baeksu: What did you do if they tried to touch you?
Lala: Not much that I could do. I just tried to show them by my face that I didn't like their behavior.
Baeksu: And then they stopped?
Lala: Yeah, they stopped if they already had a girl in the room.
Baeksu: Wait, what were your job duties?
Lala: In our place, waiters cannot come into the room. So my responsibility was to take my guests to their room, and ask what
they wanted to drink.
Baeksu: Not the madam?
Lala: No, it was my job to ask the guests which madams they wanted to help choose the girls. Most of the guests have their own
madams. But if a madam was already in a room, I went out.
Baeksu: So most of the customers were businessmen?
Lala: Yeah. They worked for many good companies.
Baeksu: How was the behavior of the Korean men different from the Japanese men?
Lala: I think Koreans are better. Most of them are not polite to girls, but Koreans are good with tips. They give good tips mostly,
especially when they know us better. Japanese never give tips to the staff, only to the madams.
Baeksu: Why do you think the Korean men were not polite to the girls? Just because they were drunk?
Lala: They act like that before they get drunk, too.
Baeksu: So why do Korean men act that way in your opinion?
Lala: I thought they have stress from the office and just wanna have fun with young girls. They need entertainment.
Baeksu: But you feel they didn't respect you as a woman?
Lala: Yeah, sure. Sometimes I saw they even kissed the madams.
Baeksu: Do Indonesian men respect women more than Korean men?
Lala: Yeah, sure. Koreans are the worst. But... not all of them...
Baeksu: They have money and give the best tips, so maybe they have the power to act like that?
Lala: Yeah, right. Maybe they think like that.
Baeksu: What did the hostesses say about the way the Korean customers treated them?
Lala: Of course, they liked the money. They also like Koreans more than Japanese.
Baeksu: They made as much money with one fuck as you made in one month.
Lala: Correct. But I'm not interested in what they're doing. I won't make love for money.
Baeksu: They liked the assholes just because they had more money and gave more tips?
Lala: Correct. Money has a power.
Baeksu: The Japanese weren't more polite to the girls than Koreans?
Lala: I didn't handle Japanese much. But it seemed about the same.
Baeksu: Did the girls ever complain about bad things the Korean customers did to them?
Lala: Of course. There were even cases when a guest hit a girl. And it always ended with the girl having to leave the club. The
customers are always right, whatever they do.
Baeksu: You mean the girls were fired?
Baeksu: Why did they hit the girls?
Lala: I'm wasn't in the room, so I don't know. But I heard it was just because they were drunk, or because a guest found their
girl with another guest and they get jealous.
Baeksu: That happened often? Girls being hit?
Lala: Yeah, and also pregnancy. Some of the girls have a child from our guests...
Baeksu: What happened? They were regular mistresses, or just from having sex one time?
Lala: It's like a discreet relationship. The girl gets money every month, like that.
Baeksu: So what happened to the babies?
Lala: The Korean still gives her money but doesn't marry her. There are many cases like that.
Baeksu: So they keep the baby and continue to work at the club?
Lala: Correct. But they don't come when they're pregnant.
Baeksu: So they will have no father?
Lala: Yeah, no father. Just the money.
Baeksu: And most of the men are married, right? Are their wives in Indonesia or Korea usually?
Lala: I thought they have wives in Korea. But some of them get married again in Indonesia to Indonesian girls.
Baeksu: Who was your boss? The fat manager from the interview?
Lala: Nope, the owner.
Baeksu: Did you meet the other two owners?
Lala: Of course, they come every day. Wanna know their names?
Lala: The 1st owner's name is Mr. Park. The 2nd is Mr. Jang, the guy at the interview. The 3rd is Mr. Song. Mr. Song is the
only single man among the owners.
Baeksu: Mr. Jang was your boss?
Lala: Yes, he was.
Baeksu: How did they get the money to open the club?
Lala: I don't know how they started, sorry.
Baeksu: You don't know if they were mafia?
Lala: No... You think so??? I never knew or heard anything about that...
Baeksu: Well, did they seem different than the customers, like tougher or more scary?
Lala: They're very polite to the customers. Smiling more and very friendly.
Baeksu: Was Mr. Jang a good boss to you? Was he nice to you?
Lala: He's nice. Never looks angry, he's calm and cool. He's more polite, and never gets mad at the staff, like Mr. Song. Mr. Song
was always mad at the staff for any reason.
Baeksu: Did the three owners have sex with the girls at the club?
Lala: Yeah, except Mr. Jang. He's a good husband.
Baeksu: How were they able to operate that kind of business? Did they have to pay off the police?
Lala: I think so.
Baeksu: You never saw anything? The police never came?
Lala: A few times, but they didn't do anything.
Baeksu: Did the owners give them money?
Lala: I didn't see. They went into a room, so I don't know what they were talking about.
Baeksu: But the police know what's happening there, right?
Lala: Yeah, they know. But they have no proof there's prostitutes in the club, because there's no sex in the club.
Lala: Maybe some of them. But not many cases like that.
Baeksu: Did the girls ever take off their clothes and dance, for example? In the rooms?
Lala: I saw it many times. Also kissing and petting and hugging each other...
Baeksu: Completely naked?
Lala: I saw some of them naked. 100% naked. So scary.
Baeksu: The girls were drunk, too?
Lala: Yeah, sure.
Baeksu: Often or just sometimes?
Lala: That extreme condition? Just sometimes.
Baeksu: How about just taking off their tops? Did the girls often take off their bras and show their breasts?
Lala: Yeah, of course. But the Koreans usually opened their clothes first.
Baeksu: Often or sometimes?
Lala: Often. I saw it many times. But most of the girls there don't wear a bra...
Baeksu: In general, do you find Korean men attractive or charming?
Lala: Just one. I met one Korean guy and he's so different, very nice and polite and handsome. And I have a relationship with
Baeksu: You had an affair with a customer?
Lala: I think the word is relationship, not affair. Because we're both single...
Baeksu: He was a customer?
Lala: Yeah. Korean guy, but he lives in Singapore.
Baeksu: How long did you date?
Lala: Since February till now! He still calls me and always wants to meet me when he comes here. This is a discreet relationship.
Baeksu: What does he do?
Lala: He's a marketing director for an oil company in Singapore.
Baeksu: How old?
Lala: 40-something, I never know. He won't talk about his age.
Baeksu: How do you know he's really single?
Lala: He told me that. I hope he didn't lie.
Baeksu: Wait, when did you quit the club and why?
Lala: I quit because my father didn't want me to work there anymore.
Lala: The 1st of May.
Baeksu: He knew about the job all along? That you worked in a karaoke club?
Lala: Yeah, but he didn't know about the Korean behavior and all the girls and everything.
Baeksu: Would you ever want to work for Koreans again, or for a Korean business?
Lala: I don't want to.
Baeksu: Why not?
Lala: I don't know, maybe I'm scared...
Baeksu: Scared of what?
Lala: Their behavior.
Baeksu: After working at the club for 5 months, what kind of image do you have of Korea and Koreans now?
Lala: They're the type of person who always tries to get what they want. Most of them are hard workers, and they will do
anything, no matter how. Even with their power and money, they cannot be refused anything.