Sunday, June 02, 2024

Go-go club designers and Fellini actress at the Chosun Hotel in 1970

For my latest Korea Times article I look at some interesting people who stayed at the Chosun Hotel in 1970. This grew out of a previous article (or two) about Tomorrow, the go-go club (or discotheque) in the hotel’s basement that was opened as Seoul’s swankiest club in 1971. In the last article, I mentioned Joe Policy, a man named in a full-page ad for the club taken out in the Korea Times, as the force behind the club’s creation, but was never able to find him. Months ago I was contacted by his daughter. Success! Except she wrote to tell me her father had died recently. She did, however, put me in contact with her mother, Carole, who shared both stories from that time and photos of the club once construction was complete. This wasn’t enough to account for another article, I thought, until I remembered Anita Ekberg, who had starred in the Federico Fellini film La Dolce Vita, as well as a less well-remembered film shot in Korea in the fall of 1970, ‘Northeast of Seoul.’ Alan Heyman shared memories of Ekberg (and her time at the Chosun Hotel) at a Royal Asiatic Society lecture by Jacco Zwetsloot back in 2011, so when former Korea Art Club leader Cornie Choy told me about meeting her in the elevator at the hotel, I immediately knew why she was there. These memories, along with the fact that I’d found colour photos of her in the Hankook Ilbo / Korea Times-owned Weekly Woman magazine, suggested a focus on both her and the Policys.

More photos of Anita Ekberg in Korea, from Weekly Woman magazine, October 21, 1970.