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More than 70 aging women live in a squalid neighborhood between the rear gate of the U.S. Army garrison here and half a dozen seedy nightclubs.In the decades following the devastation of the 1950-53 Korean War, South Korea was a poor dictatorship deeply dependent on the U.S. military. Analysts say the South Korean government saw the women as necessary for the thousands of U.S. soldiers stationed in the South. "I'm so worried that I can't sleep," says a camptown woman who will only give her surname, Kim, because she's ashamed of her past. The 75-year-old's landlords have told her she has a month to leave, and she looks nearly every day for a new home.The camptown women's predicament began when Washington and Seoul agreed in 2004 to relocate the sprawling Yongsan U.S. base, which takes up 620 acres of prime real estate in the center of wealthy Seoul, to the base in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers from the capital. In June, 122 former camptown prostitutes sued the South Korean government.The government saw the camptowns as a way to regulate prostitution, bring in much needed money and keep the U.S. soldiers happy.
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