A nudist facility on private property in a rural village in Jecheon, North Chungcheong Province, faces a crackdown after villagers staged a protest calling for its permanent closure, sparking public controversy in South Korea's traditionally conservative society.
Public nudity is illegal here, but naturists are free to gather in their birthday suits at private places.
Following complaints of villagers who spotted disrobed people at the resort over the weekend, the Jecheon Police Station asked the Ministry of Health and Welfare to determine whether the facility -- a two-story mansion open only to members -- should be seen as an unregistered guest accommodation facility.
Under the Public Hygiene Act, operators of hotels and other accommodation facilities are required to register with the government, making them subject to a set of safety and hygiene rules which may provide legal grounds for authorities to crack down on the nudist club.
"Considering that members had to pay a fee to use it, the facility can be seen as a place for accommodation, subject to the law," Bae Kyung-taek, an official from the ministry's health policy division told The Korea Herald.
The facility was registered as a farmhouse lodge when it first opened in 2009, but its operation as such was halted barely two years later due to complaints from nearby villagers.
According to local reports, the facility, which now operates as a stripped-down private naturists' club, was only open to those paying an annual membership fee of 240,000 won (S$290).
Only members had access to the mansion, equipped with a swimming pool and a playground members can enjoy in the buff. It is located some 5 kilometers from the closest residential village in Bongyang County, Jecheon.
Separately from the ministry, Jecheon police are checking whether nudists going au naturel at a privately owned lodging, if the facility qualifies as such, could be punishable for public lewdness.
According to a survey conducted last month by local pollster Realmeter on 510 men and women aged 19 or older, 51.9 per cent of respondents answered that nudist resorts should be prohibited, since the concept is "not agreeable to Korean sentiment."
Another 22.4 per cent said naturism should be allowed in people's privately owned space, while 25.7 per cent said they had no opinion.