My months in a love hotel

The sign at the end of the drive for Hotel Carnival entices guests with clowns. As you drive up to the hotel, another clown awaits a top an arch - like a love hotel as envisoned by Steven King.
The sign at the end of the drive for Hotel Carnival entices guests with clowns. As you drive up to the hotel, another clown awaits a top an arch - like a love hotel as envisoned by Steven King.

My months in a love hotel

by: Erik Slavin | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: May 09, 2012

For about two months,

Room 1003 of

the Come Inn hotel served as both my temporary housing quarters and


Many of my stories about North Korean aggression, soldier trials,

base relocation and more were crafted under the pink neon light

hanging over the complimentary computer in my bedroom.

This wasn't my original plan.

Before my arrival at Camp Red Cloud as Area I's new reporter in

February 2006, the Army demolished my office on post to make way for

a new bus station. The temporary replacement office lacked a few

trivial things, like a phone and a reliable Internet connection.

Comparatively, the Come Inn was like an executive suite with a

bedroom and kitchenette.

Sure, there was the official Gyeonggi Province Tourist Hotel nearby.

But for the same price, my room had character.

And by character, I'm mostly talking about the body-contoured hot tub

with red and blue disco backlighting. But I was disappointed that

after a week, the maids stopped leaving me bubble bath.

I would have asked for more, but I could not find the words for

"Excuse me, may I have more bubble bath?" in my Lonely Planet

Korean-English pocket dictionary. Which is strange, since the book

does teach you how to ask a waiter if he has seen any North Korean

infiltrators (Page 234).

The room décor was futuristic, in that Jetsons-style of what people

in 1967 thought the future would look like.

Silvery wallpaper surrounded the shiny, neon-blue light fixtures,

underscored by wood accents and an aquatic scene under a glass-topped

bar table. A small glass box above the water cooler sterilized the

drinking glasses with ultraviolet light, which, while probably a good

idea, got me thinking far too much about the sanitary needs of the


I saw few other patrons at the Come Inn, though I knew they were

there. Customers were usually discreet about their activity. They

parked underground and covered up their cars to hide their license


Every now and then, a couple didn't need the privacy. After a

commissary trip, I shared an elevator with a 50-ish businessman and a

girl who could have been his daughter, but wasn't.

I gave him a quick look and a nod. He looked at my bags and gave me

the "What's he going to do here with two Russet potatoes and a bag of

washed spinach" look, like I was somehow the freaky one in this


Since my entertainment options were more limited than those of the

other patrons, I got to know a lot of the room's details. For

example, the toilet came with a control panel that played a little

song. Mozart, I think.

The bed's control panel was even more sophisticated. I always

wondered who bought those Craftmatic adjustable beds that used to be

advertised so heavily between 1980s morning game shows. Turns out

they're in Uijeongbu.

There also was a complimentary DVD menu. I couldn't read the movie

titles, though I was told that one of them translated loosely to

"Ajumma Fever While Husband's Away 3."

Since the idea didn't appeal to me, I was left to seek entertainment

with the big-screen television's satellite programming.

Along with CNN and a few movie channels, it gave me a chance to catch

up on the latest Britney Spears-inspired Korean music videos. I also

enjoyed watching South Korean rappers tell me about growing up "hawd"

on the mean streets of Hongdae.

I moved out of the hotel with a tinge of sadness. After two months, I

probably earned some sort of world record for solo length of stay at

a love hotel. I know I'll never again be able to walk by a disco hot

tub, a classical-music-playing toilet or a pink neon light without

thinking of the Come Inn, a place I once called home.

E-mail Erik Slavin at:

Tags: Travel
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