Qns. state Assembly candidate profits from prostitution ads in his newspaper
By BETH DEFALCO and KEVIN FASICK
Last Updated: 4:27 AM, July 16, 2012
Posted: 12:40 AM, July 16, 2012
A Queens state Assembly candidate who publishes a Korean-language newspaper is profiting from ads for a prostitution ring on the paper’s back pages, The Post has learned.
Myungsuk Lee, 49, the owner of the Korean American Times, is one of several Democrats vying for an open seat in the newly created 40th District.
He trumpets his accomplishments on the paper’s front pages — while the back pages run ads for massage services that serve as covers for prostitution, sex workers said.
At least two of the racy ads soliciting workers lead back to the same building as Lee’s publishing and campaign offices at Prince Street and 35th Avenue in Flushing.
HEADACHE: Queens Assembly candidate Myungsuk Lee now says he will stop taking ads from, ahem, massage parlors.
One ad says it would “prefer ladies who just arrived from Korea,” and another says, “Age is not required if look young.”
Women answering telephones at numbers posted on the ads offered callers hourlong massages for $50 and directed them to the building housing Lee’s offices.
A Post reporter who arrived was offered the full menu — an extra $40 above the massage price gets “hand satisfaction,” an extra $60 gets oral sex, and an additional $80 gets conventional sex.
In an interview with The Post at his office, Lee at first denied that the ads were even in his paper.
But when confronted with the evidence, he quickly admitted to it.
“I told my employee not to have this kind of advertisement. I’m strongly opposed [to] it,” he said.
“I never called it, so I don’t know.
“As a man, I promise . . . if I find this is true, a true prostitute, I will eliminate, I will cancel [the ads],” he said. “I am very pro-advocate for immigrants, immigrants’ rights.”
One prostitute, Janie, 30, who moved from Beijing to Flushing three years ago, said she has worked for tips only at the building for two weeks in order to pay for her language classes.
“I’m a good person,” she said. “I don’t like it. But I have to go to school.”
Assembly candidate Myungsuk Lee won’t battle Post over claims
Leave a commentBy Melissa Chan Wednesday, August 1st, 2012 3:29 PM EDT
Myungsuk Lee said he does not plan to sue the New York Post after they reported his paper, the Korean American Times, published ads for massage services that ultimately served as guises for prostitution.
Like Queens Courier
An embattled assembly hopeful is backing out of plans to confront the New York Post after the major metro paper exposed alleged prostitution ads in his Korean-language newspaper.
Myungsuk Lee, a 40th Assembly District candidate, was dealt a major blow to his campaign when the Post recently reported his paper, the Korean American Times, had published ads for seemingly legal massage services that ultimately served as guises for prostitution.
“The New York Post wrote an article of my newspaper’s back pages — that there are some illegal massage businesses — but it’s not true,” Lee, 49, said. “If you see my newspaper’s back pages, there are a lot of massage businesses on Northern Boulevard and Union Street. They’re all legal businesses.”
Lee said the lewd classifieds in question are located inside the paper, not on the back pages. The candidate, who has already issued an apology, now told The Courier he’s not sure the four or five small ads are in fact illegal.
“I acknowledged it at the time because I trusted the New York Post reporter,” Lee said. “But I called the massage business the New York Post visited and they said they are just a regular massage business.”
Lee said he had plans to send a letter to the Post to request a sit down with the paper’s higher up editorial officials, but the candidate is now postponing delivering the letter until after the election.
“Personally, I want to send a letter to the Post, but my political consultants advised me not to do it,” he said. “It makes it worse.”
The District Attorney’s office said they were “going to confer with the NYPD’s vice squad on the matter.”
Multiple Korean and Chinese-language newspaper reports said Lee intends to sue the Post for defamation and libel, but the newspaper owner denied that accusation.
Meanwhile, Lee — who is vying for the seat currently held by Assemblymember Grace Meng — said he’s hoping for a civil and positive campaign against fellow Korean-American candidate Ron Kim. Lee said he withdrew petition objections against Kim and asked his opponent to do the same.
“It’s bad in the Korean community to fight each other. It makes it very negative,” Lee said.
Pat McKenna, Kim’s spokesperson, said the Queens County Democratic Party verifies all petitions to make sure they conform to election law requirements in a “routine investigation.”
“It is clear that Myungsuk Lee will say anything to distract voters from the fact that he is under criminal investigation by the Queens District Attorney,” McKenna said. “His increasingly bizarre attacks and statements are simply the reflection of a campaign in turmoil desperately attempting to avoid talking about Myungsuk Lee’s shameful record.”
Candidate apologizes for prostitution ads in his paper
Leave a commentBy Melissa Chan Wednesday, July 18th, 2012 3:21 PM EDT
Share on Tumblr
Myungsuk Lee, a 40th Assembly District hopeful and newspaper owner, is under fire for having prostitution ads printed in his paper.
Like Queens Courier
An Assembly candidate and newspaper owner who is under fire for having prostitution ads printed in his Korean-language paper’s back pages apologized and said the lewd classifieds were a reminder that Flushing’s “quality of life is under attack.”
Myungsuk Lee, a 40th Assembly District hopeful, had published ads for seemingly legal massage services that ultimately served as disguises for illegal prostitution in his Korean American Times paper, the New York Post reported this week.
Lee, 49, said his paper, which places hundreds of ads per week, printed the ads under the impression the services offered were legal in nature.
“Had my staff known these individuals were, in fact, using these ads and services as a front for illegal activities, they would never have been accepted,” said the Flushing resident.
According to The Post, women answering telephones at numbers posted on at least two of the ads offered hour-long massages for $50. They directed callers to the same building as Lee’s publishing and campaign offices — at Prince Street and 35th Avenue in Flushing — where workers then tried to sell a Post reporter sexual services.
“I live in this community. I work in this community. I am raising a family in this community. I am deeply concerned that this type of illegal behavior is happening all around us every day, and part of the reason why I decided to run for office this year was to work to improve the overall quality of life for Flushing residents,” Lee said.
The Assembly candidate, who raised about $82,000 in campaign funds so far, pledged to discontinue the ads and correct the issue in the district going forward.
“We always need to stay vigilant against those [who] will lie and deceive for personal gain,” he said.
Meanwhile, seven other candidates vying for the same seat have filed their petitions and await a Board of Election’s commissioner’s hearing on July 30 that will determine if they have a sufficient number of signatures to make it on to the September 13 primary ballot.
They are Democrats Ron Kim, Martha Flores-Vazquez, Ethel Chen, Yen Chou, John Scandalios and Republicans Phil Gim and Sunny Hahn.
The seat is currently held by Assemblymember Grace Meng, who is heading into a general election for the 6th Congressional seat against Councilmember Dan Halloran.
By Melissa Chanmchan@queenscourier.com
뉴욕하원 출마 한인 운영신문 매춘업소 광고 파문
뉴욕의 하원의원 후보로 출마한 한인이 운영하는 신문이 매춘(賣春) 업소 광고를 게재한 사실이 뉴욕 언론에 보도돼 파문이 일고 있다.
뉴욕포스트는 16일 뉴욕주하원 40선거구 민주당 예비선거에 출마한 이명석(49) 전 퀸즈한인회장이 운영하는 생활정보신문 ‘벼룩시장’에 몸을 파는 마사지 팔러 광고를 게재했다고 2면 톱기사로 보도했다.
뉴욕포스트는 ‘정치인이 성매매 광고로 돈을 벌고 있다’는 제목의 기사에서 “마사지 팔러 업소 중 최소 2곳은 플러싱 프린스스트릿과 35애브뉴에 있는 이 후보의 신문사와 선거 캠프 사무실과 함께 같은 건물에 위치해 있다”고 보도해 충격을 주었다.
뉴욕포스트는 이 업소에 기자를 손님으로 위장시켜 매춘 제공 여부를 확인했다면서 전화로 문의하자 1시간 마사지에 50달러라고 말했지만, 직접 찾아가자 40달러나 60달러를 더 내면 유사성행위가 가능하고, 80달러 추가시 성관계를 가질 수 있다고 설명했다고 전했다.
이명석 후보는 포스트와의 인터뷰에서 처음엔 그런 광고가 없다고 부인했으나 증거를 제시하자 시인했다고 전했다. 그러나 그는 “직원들에게 이런 광고를 받지 말라고 말했다. 난 이런 광고들을 절대 반대한다. 난 (업소에) 전화를 건적이 없기때문에 알지 못한다”고 말했다.
이와 관련, 이 후보는 각 언론사에서 보낸 해명 자료를 통해 “이번 일로 한인사회에 물의를 빚게 돼 한인 여러분께 진심으로 사과드린다”며 “'벼룩시장'은 원칙적으로 어떠한 성인광고의 게재도 금하고 있으며, 이번에 언급된 광고에 대한 조사를 통해 성인광고로 확인될 경우 곧 게재를 금지하고 삭제하겠다”고 말했다.
그는 “뉴욕포스트 기사에 언급된 광고업체는 중국 지압집이었고, 광고 문구에 '마사지 서비스, 스트레스 해소'란 말로 게재돼 일반적인 마사지 광고로 위장됐다. 하지만 불법 성인업체 여부를 확인하지 못하고 게재한 점, 다시 한 번 한인사회에 사과드린다”고 해명했다.
이 후보는 “이번 일을 계기로 민주당 예비 후보로서 더욱 최선을 다해 선거운동에 임하겠다”며 사퇴 의사가 없음을 밝혔다.
그러나 뉴욕포스트는 이튿날인 17일에도 속보를 통해 뉴욕 퀸즈 검찰청이 수사에 착수할 가능성을 보도해 파장은 계속 확대될 전망이다. 포스트는 퀸즈 검찰청의 리차드 브라운 검사가 전날 보도와 관련, 수사하는 문제를 협의하고 있다고 밝혔다면서 이명석 후보가 희망하는 정치적 해피엔딩은 안될 것 같다고 뼈있는 말을 했다.
잦은 매춘 문제로 눈총을 받고 있는 한인사회는 이번 보도로 전전긍긍하고 있다. 정치인의 도덕성이 무엇보다 강조되는 미국인만큼 한인사회의 이미지가 크게 추락할 가능성이 있기 때문이다.
문제가 된 신문사가 생활정보지이긴 하지만 영어이름이 ‘Korean American Times’로 소개되고 포스트가 ‘한국어 신문’ 이라고 표기해 전체 한인언론의 위상(位相)에도 악영향을 줄 것으로 우려되고 있다.
한편 이 후보가 출마한 지역구는 중국계인 그레이스 맹 의원이 연방하원의원에 출사표를 던져 공석이 된 가운데 한인정치인이 탄생할 수 있는 절호의 기회로 평가받았다. 한인후보로는 이명석 후보와 론 김 후보가 민주당 후보 자리를 놓고 치열한 경쟁을 펼쳤으나 이번 사건으로 타민족 유권자들에 대한 선거운동이 차질을 빚을 전망이다.
“앞면엔 자기 홍보 뒷면엔 매춘업소광고” NY포스트
이날 뉴욕포스트는 이 후보가 자기 신문 앞면엔 자신이 이룩한 성과들을 홍보하고 뒷면엔 매춘 업소 광고를 싣고 있다고 비꼬기도 했다. (He trumpets his accomplishments on the paper’s front pages — while the back pages run ads for massage services that serve as covers for prostitution, sex workers said.)
신문은 머리를 감싸며 난감한 표정을 짓고 있는 이후보의 사진을 싣고 이 후보가 뉴욕한인상공회의소 회장과 퀸즈한인회장을 역임했다고 덧붙였다.
매춘에 종사할 여성을 찾는 광고엔 “한국에서 막 도착한 여성들 우대”, “어려보이면 나이는 상관없음” 등의 문구가 있다고 소개했다.
포스트는 제니라는 이름의 매춘부가 3년전 중국 북경에서 플러싱에 왔다면서 이 업소에 온 것은 2주전으로 어학원 수업료를 벌기 위해 일을 하게 됐다고 전했다. 그녀는 “난 착한 사람이다. 이런 일을 좋아하지 않지만 학교를 다녀야 하기 때문에 어쩔 수 없다”고 말했다.