Prostitution in South Korea

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Prostitution in South Korea is illegal,[1] but according to The Korea Women's Development Institute, the sex trade in Korea was estimated to amount to 14 trillion South Korean won ($13 billion) in 2007, roughly 1.6 percent of the nation's gross domestic product.[2][3]

The number of prostitutes dropped by 18 percent to 269,000 during the same period. The sex trade involved some 94 million transactions in 2007, down from 170 million in 2002. The amount of money traded for prostitution was over 14 trillion won, much less than 24 trillion won in 2002.[2] Despite legal sanctions and police crackdowns, prostitution continues to flourish in S Korea, while sex workers continue to actively resist the state's activities. [4]

History[edit]

Premodern era[edit]

Before the modernization of Korea, there were no brothels, but a caste of the women for the elite landholding classes performed sexual labor.[5] Modernization eliminated Korean castes system.[5] The first brothels in Korea began to spread after the country first opened its port in 1876 through a diplomatic pact, causing ethnic quarters for Japanese migrants to sprout up in Busan, Wonsan and Incheon.[6]

1960s: U.S. military[edit]

From the 1960s and until today U.S. camptown prostitution still exists outside U.S military bases (for example outside Camp Casey and Camp Stanley). This was the result of negotiation between the Korean government and the U.S. military, involving prostitution for United States soldiers in camptowns surrounding the U.S military bases. The government registered the prostitutes who were called as Western princess and required them to carry medical certification. The U.S military police provide for the security in these U.S camptown prostitution sites and detained the prostitutes who were thought to be ill to prevent epidemics of sexually transmitted diseases. This government involvement was in the past motivated in part by fears that the American military which protected South Korea from North Korea would leave.[7][8][9] Camptown prostitution exists outside U.S. military bases (for example outside Camp Stanley). Though U.S. officials publicly condemn prostitution, they are perceived as taking little action to prevent it, and some locals suggest that U.S. Army authorities prefer having commercial sex services available to soldiers.[10]

2000s[edit]

In 2003, the Korean Institute of Criminology announced that 260,000 women, or 1 of 25 of young Korean women, may be engaged in the sex industry. However, the Korean Feminist Association alleged that from 514,000 to 1.2 million Korean women participate in the prostitution industry.[11] In addition, a similar report by the Institute noted that 20% of men in their 20s pay for sex at least four times a month,[12] with 358,000 visiting prostitutes daily.[13]

In 2004, the South Korean government passed an anti-prostitution law (Special Law on Sex Trade 2004) prohibiting the buying and selling of sex and shutting down brothels.[14] In 2006, the Ministry for Gender Equality, in an attempt to address the issue of demand for prostitutes, offered cash to companies whose male employees pledged not to pay for sex after office parties. The people responsible for this policy claimed that they want to put an end to a culture in which men get drunk at parties and go on to buy sex.[15]

In 2007 the government announced that sex tourism by Koreans would be made illegal, as well as Korean women going abroad to sell sex. The courts prosecuted 35,000 clients, 2.5 times higher than the number of those who were caught buying sex in 2003.[14] Meanwhile enforcement is weak and corruption problematic; there is little evidence that new legislation has made much difference, the trade simply finding other ways to carry on its business.[16] However more men are being sent to "John School" for purchasing sex,[17] while a 2010 investigation suggested that 20% of seniors seek out sex workers.[18]

Range of services[edit]

Following the enactment of the Special Law in 2004, there was a crackdown on red-light districts; while many of the brothels in those areas were forced to close, the crackdown went as quickly as it came, with the result that prostitution was driven more underground but also became a more competitive business with lower prices and more services.[citation needed]

Red light districts in South Korea can compare to those of Amsterdam and Germany. The four main red light districts in South Korea prior to the Special Law are Cheongnyangni 588, Yongsan Station, and Mia-ri in Seoul and Jagalmadang in Daegu. While not all of them are operating to full capacity, some still exist while being tolerated not only due to the vast amount of money that is involved in the business, but also in an attempt to control the sex industry.

Other sexual services include 가택 마사지 (gataek massaji) which is an "in-call" massage where the customer would travel or meet at the masseuse's home or quarters, 키스방 (kiss bang) which are rooms where customers pay to french kiss and fondle women,[19] and 출장 마사지 (chuljang massaji) or an "out-call" massage where the masseuse travels to the customer's place, love motel, hotel, or another disclosed location.

Teen prostitution[edit]

According to a 2012 study by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, 3% of runaway youths have been exposed to prostitution, either as a buyer or a prostitute.[20] There have been reported cases of runaway girls who sell sex over internet chat, and live with "families" in jjimjilbang, or bathhouses, with fellow runaway girls. According to United Voice for Eradication of Prostitution, these teen prostitutes are exposed to such crimes as rape and diseases as syphilis. Recidivism is common, with over half of the girls counseled by the Voice returning to the sex trade, often because of blackmail from former pimps and social ostracism from future husbands and families.[21]

Human trafficking[edit]

Warning of Prostitution and Human trafficking by United States Forces Korea

Though as recently as 2001 the government received low marks on the issue, in recent years the government has made significant strides in its enforcement efforts.[citation needed] Human trafficking was outlawed and penalties for prostitution increased;[22] the 2004 Act on the Prevention of the Sex Trade and Protection of its Victims was passed, toughening penalties for traffickers, ending deportation of victims, and establishing a number of shelters for victims. As of 2005 there were 144 people serving jail time for human trafficking.

A US Immigration official conceded in 2006 that "There's a highly organized logistical network between Korea and the United States with recruiters, brokers, intermediaries.[23][24]

A Los Angeles police spokesman said that about 90 percent of the department’s 70-80 monthly arrests for prostitution involve Korean women and Los Angeles police estimates that there are 8,000 Korean prostitutes working in that city and its suburbs.[25] Korean women`s customers in foreign countries are mostly Korean men.[26][27]

A US State Department report titled, "Trafficking in person's report: June 2008," states that in "March 2008, a joint operation between the AFP and DIAC broke up a syndicate in Sydney that allegedly trafficked South Korean women to a legal brothel and was earning more than $2.3 million a year. Police allege the syndicate recruited Korean women through deception about the conditions under which they would be employed, organized their entry into Australia under false pretenses, confiscated their travel documents, and forced them to work up to 20 hours a day in a legal Sydney brothel owned by the syndicate."[28]

The US State Department report also states that the South Korean government "fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking."[29] In 2012, the government continued law enforcement efforts against sex trafficking, and signed MOUs for the Employment Placement System (EPS) with five additional countries and conducted numerous anti-trafficking awareness campaigns. The Korean National Police Agency also cooperated with foreign law enforcement agencies to crack down on human smuggling networks.

Foreign prostitutes in South Korea[edit]

South Korea is both a source and destination country for human trafficking.[28] Mainly Chinese and Russian and Southeast Asian women are brought into the country for prostitution by Korean employment agencies,[citation needed] many of whom are tricked into thinking they will have a legitimate job.[citation needed][30][31] The agencies use high salaries to lure young girls to go to Korea and once they arrived, they will be forced to work as sex slaves.[32]

Chinese prostitutes in South Korea[edit]

Hundreds of thousands of Chinese women ( both Han and Korean Chinese) are engaged in the prostitution businesses such as hotel, massage parlor, noraebang room, room salon and so on in Korea[33][34][35][36]

Russian prostitutes in South Korea[edit]

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, young Russian girls have been commonly seen in the red district of Korea.[37] They can be found in the bars, strip club and coffee shop for entertaining the customers.[38] Between January 2000 and March 2001, approximately 6,000 Russian women entered Korea through Busan port and Gimpo. In 2000, 3,064 Russians entered South Korea on E-6 visas, 2,927 of them women (Jhoty, 2001)[39]

Child sex tourism[edit]

Japanese sex tourists in South Korea[edit]

As of 2012, South Korean child prostitutes are patronized by Japanese male sex tourists since South Korea was still a significant place for Japanese clients engaging in child sex tourism.[40]

South Korean sex tourists in Southeast Asia[edit]

As of 2013, Child prostitutes in Southeast Asian countries were reportedly patronized mainly by South Korean men, who outstrip Japanese and Chinese as the most numerous sex tourists in the region, with the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand mainly seeing South Korean men using child prostitutes.[41]

Korean prostitutes in foreign countries[edit]

The South Korean government has expressed concern over its citizens engaging in prostitution in foreign countries like Australia and the United States.

Australia[edit]

Many South Korean women are trafficked to Australia to work as prostitutes with up to a thousand Korean women in the Australian sex industry.[42]

United States[edit]

Thousands of South Korean women are trafficked to the United States to work as prostitutes in massage parlors. [43] American authorities arrested hundreds of Korean women for prostitution in the five years leading up to 2011, with the 2008 Korea-US Visa Waiver Program leading to an additional increase in the amount of Korean prostitutes in America.[44] The number of people who operate with trafficking rackets to ship Korean women into the sex trade in America reaches into the thousands.[45]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "US State Department Human Rights Report 2009: Republic of Korea". U.S. Department of State. 
  2. ^ a b Sex trade accounts for 1.6% of GDP. KWDI: Korea Women's Development Institute
  3. ^ Tom Henheffer. "South Korea takes on prostitution: The country’s sex workers generate 1.6 per cent of total GDP. McLean's February 18 2010". Macleans.ca. 
  4. ^ "S Korean sex workers rally against police crackdown. AP News May 17 2011". 
  5. ^ a b Cho, Grace (2008). Haunting the Korean Diaspora: Shame, Secrecy, and the Forgotten War. University of Minnesota Press. p. 103. ISBN 0816652759. 
  6. ^ [BOOKS IN BRIEF]The history of prostitution-INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily
  7. ^ Sang-Hun, Choe (2009-01-07). "Ex-Prostitutes Say South Korea and U.S. Enabled Sex Trade Near Bases". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  8. ^ Moon, Katharine H. S. (1997). Sex among Allies: Military Prostitution in U.S.-Korea Relations. New York: Columbia University Press. 
  9. ^ Shaffer, Robert (1999). "Book Review: Sex among Allies: Military Prostitution in U.S.-Korea Relations". Journal of World History (New York: University of Hawaii Press): Pp. xiii + 240. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  10. ^ "Prostitution Thrives with U.S. Military Presence. IPS July 7 2009". 
  11. ^ "Korea's sex industry is major money earner". JoongAng Ilbo English. 2003-02-06. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  12. ^ Korea's crackdown culture David Scofield of the Institute of Peace Studies, Kyung Hee University
  13. ^ "sfgate.com". SFGate. 14 March 2003. 
  14. ^ a b "South Korea gets tough on sex tourism. Sydney Morning Herald September 20, 2007". 
  15. ^ "S Koreans offered cash for no sex". BBC News. 2006-12-26. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  16. ^ The Korea Herald. "Sex trade still problem despite tough law. Korea Herald Oct 1 2010". 
  17. ^ The Korea Herald. "Number of ‘john school attendees’ increasing. Korea Herald Oct 18 2010". 
  18. ^ The Korea Herald. "How seniors meet sexual needs. Korea Herald March 30 2010". 
  19. ^ Seoul’s “Kiss Bang” Tongue Kissing Rooms | Rockit Reports
  20. ^ http://www.mogef.go.kr/korea/view/policyGuide/policyGuide07_07_01.jsp?func=view&currentPage=0&key_type=&key=&search_start_date=&search_end_date=&class_id=0&idx=691646.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. ^ Chang, Jennifer. "SKorea's secret: Runaway teen prostitution". Seoul: Al Jazeera. 
  22. ^ David Scofield (September 25, 2004). "Korea's 'crackdown culture' - now it's brothels". Asia Times. 
  23. ^ May, Meredith (2006-10-19). "Sex Trafficking". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  24. ^ Deanne Fitzmaurice; Dan Jung. "Sex Trafficking" (Video). The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-07-11. 
  25. ^ "Seoul worries about prostitutes’ exodus to the U.S.". JoongAng Ilbo English. 2006-06-20. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  26. ^ "'티모시림 교수 논문'". report. 
  27. ^ "'티모시림 교수 논문2'". report. 
  28. ^ a b "Trafficking in Person's report: June 2008." (PDF). US State Department. 
  29. ^ "Korean team in US for consultations on human trafficking concerns". The Korea Times. July 4, 2012. 
  30. ^ Donald Macintyre/Tongduchon (2002-08-05). "Base Instincts". TIME magazine. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  31. ^ Lee Hyang Won. "Reality of Women Migrant Workers in South Korea". Peacemaking. 
  32. ^ Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery - ROK (South Korea)
  33. ^ '한국에서 중국여성 수십만명 한국남성 상대 성매매' (in Korean). 여수여성인권지원센터 News. .
  34. ^ 휴게텔 중국여성 성매매' (in Korean). 주간동아 News. 
  35. ^ "인천출입국 중국여성도우미검거'". 경찰청지청 외국인도움센터. 
  36. ^ "중국여대생 한국서 대규모 성매매'". 
  37. ^ No Sex for 21st Century Soldiers
  38. ^ On Being a Foreigner in Korea | Living Life Frame by Frame
  39. ^ Territo, Leonard; Kirkham, George (2009), International Sex Trafficking of Women & Children: Understanding the Global Epidemic, Looseleaf Law Publications, p. 206, ISBN 978-1-932777-86-4 
  40. ^ "South Korea". Global Monitoring : status of action against commercial sexual exploitation of children, 2nd edition. ECPAT. p. 11. Archived from the original on 2012-06-03. 
  41. ^ "The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition): Daily News from Korea - Koreans 'Biggest Clients of Prostitutes in Southeast Asia'". 
  42. ^ Korea's sex call - dob in our prostitutes | News.com.au
  43. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20070629054806/http://news.naver.com/news/read.php?mode=LSS2D&office_id=025&article_id=0000614141&section_id=102&section_id2=253&menu_id=102
  44. ^ Korean prostitution in the US is out of control - Voices of NY
  45. ^ Lawrence Journal-World - Google News Archive Search

External links[edit]