Prostitution in South Korea
Prostitution in South Korea is illegal, 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. According to the Korean Institute of Criminology, 20 percent of adult males aged between 20-64 purchase sex at an average of 693,000 won ($580) per month. Acording to a study conducted by the Medical College of Korea University, 23.1% of males and 2.6% of females have their first sexual experience with a prostitute.
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. Despite legal sanctions and police crackdowns, prostitution continues to flourish in S Korea, while sex workers continue to actively resist the state's activities.
- 1 Role in society
- 2 History
- 3 Range of services
- 4 Teen prostitution
- 5 Human trafficking
- 6 Foreign prostitutes in South Korea
- 7 Child sex tourism
- 8 Korean prostitutes in foreign countries
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Role in society
Prostitutes as first time sexual experience
In South Korea, the practice of losing virginity to prostitutes is wide spread. According to a study conducted by the Medical College of Korea University, males reported an overall 23.1% for firsthand prostitution experience, while women revealed a lower percentile of 2.6%, for an average of 13.4%.
Before the modernization of Korea, there were no brothels, but a caste of the women for the elite landholding classes performed sexual labor. Modernization eliminated Korean castes system. 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.
1960s: U.S. military
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. 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.
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. 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, with 358,000 visiting prostitutes daily.
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. Soon afterward, over 2,500 sex workers demonstrated in the streets to demand the repeal of the law, as they believed it threatened their livelihood. 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.
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. 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. However more men are being sent to "John School" for purchasing sex, while a 2010 investigation suggested that 20% of seniors seek out sex workers.
Range of services
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.
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, 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.
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. 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.
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. Human trafficking was outlawed and penalties for prostitution increased; 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 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. Korean women`s customers in foreign countries are mostly Korean men.
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."
The US State Department report also states that the South Korean government "fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking." 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
South Korea is both a source and destination country for human trafficking. 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.
Russian prostitutes in South Korea
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, young Russian girls have been commonly seen in the red district of Korea. They can be found in the bars, strip club and coffee shop for entertaining the customers. 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)
Child sex tourism
South Korean sex tourists in Southeast Asia
As of 2013[update], 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.
Korean prostitutes in foreign countries
The South Korean government has expressed concern over its citizens engaging in prostitution in foreign countries like Australia and the United States.
Thousands of South Korean women are trafficked to the United States to work as prostitutes in massage parlors.  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. The number of people who operate with trafficking rackets to ship Korean women into the sex trade in America reaches into the thousands.
China and Taiwan
South Korean college girls have been sent by brokers to work as prostitutes in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia due to the popularity of the "Korean wave".
- "US State Department Human Rights Report 2009: Republic of Korea". U.S. Department of State.
- Sex trade accounts for 1.6% of GDP. KWDI: Korea Women's Development Institute
- 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.
- Specht, Mathias (1 June 2015). "Sex Industry in Korea". Korea Times. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
- "S Korean sex workers rally against police crackdown.". AP News. 17 May 2011.
- Cho, Grace (2008). Haunting the Korean Diaspora: Shame, Secrecy, and the Forgotten War. University of Minnesota Press. p. 103. ISBN 0816652759.
- [BOOKS IN BRIEF]The history of prostitution-INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily
- 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.
- Moon, Katharine H. S. (1997). Sex among Allies: Military Prostitution in U.S.-Korea Relations. New York: Columbia University Press.
- 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.
- "Prostitution Thrives with U.S. Military Presence. IPS July 7 2009".
- "Korea's sex industry is major money earner". JoongAng Ilbo English. 2003-02-06. Retrieved 2009-07-13.
- Korea's crackdown culture David Scofield of the Institute of Peace Studies, Kyung Hee University
- "Changing attitude toward sex threatens South Korea / Growing promiscuity, lack of education may lead to increase in AIDS, experts say". SFGate. 14 March 2003.
- "South Korea gets tough on sex tourism". Sydney Morning Herald. September 20, 2007.
- Joo-Hyun, C. (2005). "Intersectionality revealed: Sexual politics in post-IMF Korea". Korea Journal 45 (3): 105.
- "S Koreans offered cash for no sex". BBC News. 2006-12-26. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
- "Sex trade still problem despite tough law". Korea Herald. October 1, 2010.
- The Korea Herald. "Number of ‘john school attendees’ increasing. Korea Herald Oct 18 2010".
- Song Sang-ho (March 30, 2010). "How seniors meet sexual needs". Korea Herald.
- Seoul’s “Kiss Bang” Tongue Kissing Rooms | Rockit Reports
- "청소년 자료실(간행물발간자료실) _ 여성가족부".
- Chang, Jennifer. "SKorea's secret: Runaway teen prostitution". Seoul: Al Jazeera.
- Williamson, Lucy (June 10, 2014). "The Korean grandmothers who sell sex". BBC News.
- David Scofield (September 25, 2004). "Korea's 'crackdown culture' - now it's brothels". Asia Times.
- May, Meredith (2006-10-19). "Sex Trafficking". The San Francisco Chronicle.
- Deanne Fitzmaurice; Dan Jung. "Sex Trafficking" (Video). The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-07-11.
- "Seoul worries about prostitutes’ exodus to the U.S.". JoongAng Ilbo English. 2006-06-20. Retrieved 2009-07-13.
- "'티모시림 교수 논문'" (PDF). report.
- "'티모시림 교수 논문2'" (PDF). report.
- "Trafficking in Person's report: June 2008." (PDF). US State Department.
- "Korean team in US for consultations on human trafficking concerns". The Korea Times. July 4, 2012.
- Donald Macintyre/Tongduchon (2002-08-05). "Base Instincts". TIME magazine. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
- Lee Hyang Won. "Reality of Women Migrant Workers in South Korea". Peacemaking.
- Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery - ROK (South Korea)
- No Sex for 21st Century Soldiers
- On Being a Foreigner in Korea | Living Life Frame by Frame
- 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
- "The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition): Daily News from Korea - Koreans 'Biggest Clients of Prostitutes in Southeast Asia'".
- Korea's sex call - dob in our prostitutes | News.com.au
- Korean prostitution in the US is out of control - Voices of NY
- Lawrence Journal-World - Google News Archive Search
- "Thousands of Women Forced Into Sexual Slavery For US Servicemen in South Korea". Feminist Daily News Wire. 2002-09-09. Retrieved 2007-07-11.
- William H. McMichael (2002-08-12). "Sex slaves". Navy Times. Retrieved 2007-07-11.
- SEX WORK IN SOUTH KOREA AMRC 1999
- Sealing Chen. On the move for love. U Pennsylvania Press 2010
- Lim T. The Smuggling and Trafficking of Korean Women to the United States: A Preliminary Study. IOM 2006
- Cheng S. Commentary on Hughes, Chon, and Ellerman (Modern-Day Comfort Women: The U.S. Military, Transnational Crime, and the Trafficking of Women) Violence Against Women 14(3) 2008 359-63
- David Scofield (2004-05-26). "Sex and denial in South Korea". The Asia Times. Retrieved 2007-07-11.
- Sealing Cheng (2004-12-22). "Korean sex trade 'victims' strike for rights". The Asia Times. Retrieved 2007-07-11.
- Donald MacIntyre (2002-08-05). "Base Instincts". Time Magazine. Retrieved 2007-07-11.
- Cheng S. “Changing Lives, Changing Selves: ‘Trafficked’ Filipina Entertainers in Korea” Anthropology in Action 2002. Vol 9 (1): 13-20.
- Casey Lartigue, Jr. (2011-06-30). "Yes: Prohibition is worse than the 'crime'". Center for Free Enterprise.