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8,000 Korean prostitutes in U.S. since 2004: report

So, just how many Korean prostitutes are plying their trade in the United States?

Well, according to one Korean government official cited by the JoongAng Ilbo, the Los Angeles Police Department suspects some 8,000 Korean women have entered the United States to practice the World’s Oldest Profession since 2004. In particular, since Korea’s Special Law on the Eradication of Prostitution went into effect in September 2004, the number of working girls fleeing to the United States via Canada and Mexico has been climbing.

In Waterbury, Connecticut, 33 Korean women were arrested in early June for allegedly providing sexual services at area massage parlors. A Waterbury police official said Korean massage parlors have been spreading at a fast rate.

According to the JoongAng Ilbo, Korean prostitution is becoming a social problem in the United States, and this in turn has led to increased anti-Korean feeling in the country. On June 30 of 2005, a 400-man joint FBI-Department of Homeland Security-police task force arrested 192 Koreans, including 150 women accused of prostitution, in Los Angeles and San Francisco. When local broadcasters, including NBC, reported on the arrests, on screen was the Korean flag (!). This year, there were a string of arrests of suspected prostitutes in Korean neighborhoods in New York and Virginia. An LAPD official said some 70-80 prostitutes were arrested every month, and 90 percent of them were Korean.

U.S. law enforcement agencies have been on alert recently as the problem seems to be spreading from predominantly Korean areas to non-Korean areas in Middle America. A Korean government official said with some prostitutes getting busted after setting up shop in their apartments, anti-Korean sentiment among Americans has been spreading, with incidents of apartment owners refusing to lease to Korean women taking place.

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson told the JoongAng Ilbo that this kind of prostitution, involving as it does violations of immigration law, money laundering and human rights abuse, was dangerous to the livelihood of American crack whores American values.

The JoongAng Ilbo also expressed concern that the issue could influence negotiations to extend the U.S. visa waiver program to Korea.  A March 2005 U.S. State Department human rights report pointed out that Korean women were being trafficked through Canada and Mexico to work in the U.S. sex industry.

Realizing the seriousness of the problem, the government has moved to formulate measures. In April, the Foreign Ministry, Justice Ministry, prosecutors and police formed a deliberation body to block overseas prostitution, and international law enforcement cooperation is being strengthened.  After the 2005 San Francisco arrests, Korea, the United States and Canada formed a deliberative body to discuss the restricting the issuing of passports to those suspected of prostitution and investigation cooperation.  Yet as U.S. Consul General to Seoul Michael Kirby pointed out, for a country to joint the U.S. waiver program, what the U.S. public thinks is important, and the recent mass arrests could have a psychological influence.  A Korean Foreign Ministry official said for Korea to join the program, it needed to be screened by the Department of Homeland Security and then OK’d by Congress, but if U.S. lawmakers were to come to view Korea in a negative light due to the prostitution issue, there could be problems.

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  • slim

    More Korean wave hype from the Marmot.

  • thorin

    I’m sure Reuters is ultimately responsible for this misinformation.

  • dogbertt

    I wonder if fifty years from now, these Korean prostitutes will be protesting in front of the White House claiming to have been “comfort women” impressed into service by evil Americans. I would not put it past them.

    Ghod, read some of the Netizen comments on that article. A (overwhelmingly large number of) Koreans have really lost the plot. It’s truly an online nation of nuljis, baduks, and vankers out there.

  • Remort

    The ONLY reason prostitution is a social problem in the United States is the absolutely ignorant politicians that have made it illegal. This same logic can be applied to alcohol, other drugs, and gambling. During the prohibition era the Kennedys made a killing running bootleg alcohol. Now, it’s the pimps, and bookies that are making a killing, simply because of these activities being illegal.

    Over the last several decades, gambling has been legalized in many states in the U.S., providing hundreds of millions of dollars reinvested directly back into these areas in the form of public works and increased social services from taxes. Simply legalizing illicit drugs and prostitution would eliminate the over-crowding in our jails and prisons, and provide a steady stream of funding for the public good.

    –Remort

  • michael

    “It’s truly an online nation of nuljis, baduks, and vankers out there.”

    OUR PRIDE OUR HOOKERS

    Just joking! Don’t go flamin’ me kids!

  • wjk

    Remort, most people lose money when they gamble. Probability says so.

    South Korea recently legalized gambling under Kim Dae Jung.

    Lot of broken lives and dreams at Kang Won Do, was what I heard last. Lots full of confiscated cars, etc.

    Gambling isn’t always a good. It’s also pretty sad to know confidently that gambling will bring in more money to the government versus asking for donations. Knowing very well that most people have to lose money for the whole thing to work.

    I have yet to live in a country where illicit drugs and prostitution is legal. I refrain from comment on that one. But even with legal alcohol, people find amazing ways to screw up their lives. I don’t think a variety of choices in drugs would reduce that problem. I suppose a guy on marijuana is a safer driver than a guy on Budweiser?

  • jameslayne

    doggbert, I’m having some difficulty understanding your statement. r u implying that ho’s who went to work in the states think of themselves as in the same league as teenage girls who were abducted against the free will to be repeatedly raped by the japanese? or r u just classifying the entire korean population as whiners with an inferiority complex who will take any chance to vent their so called short-comings u think all koreans have?

  • jameslayne

    i personally believe chuggin’ shit soju and goin’ to fuck ho’s is the only pasttime koreans enjoy because there is such a lack of other means of relieving stress in this fuct up place…but as a korean, i am very proud of the level of our ho’s, once took a foreign friend driving around cnn and ys and he was very impressed

  • jameslayne

    i mean, isn’t that the whole point of globalization? that we get to mutually enjoy the best offerings of nations that are seperated geographically? i don’t know why the US and koreans are getting bent out of shape on this one…just make sure they don’t bring any STDs back, koreans just like to enjoy straight one-on-one sex, which is cool, but i saw some shiite in the states that was really whack, a guy humpin’ a guy and then humpin’ a ho, guy humpin’ a guy who was humpin’ a ho, ho’s doin’ dawgs, dawgs doin’ hos…

  • http://xanga.com/ughdavid davelee

    this jameslayne character is a keeper.

  • Zonath

    You saw this stuff going on? Dude. I definitely don’t wanna hang out with your crowd. :P

  • dogbertt

    doggbert, I’m having some difficulty understanding your statement. r u implying that ho’s who went to work in the states think of themselves as in the same league as teenage girls who were abducted against the free will to be repeatedly raped by the japanese?

    I’ll tell you how I see it.

    The South Korean economy is in good shape, much better than it was in the 1940s. There is a solid middle class, not terribly unequal distribution of income, and unemployment is low.

    Yet, there are literally tens of thousands of Korean women who are prostitutes, both in Korea and abroad. No one is forcing them too, are they?

    Back in the days of the comfort women, the Korean economy was much worse and life was a lot worse for Koreans, no? That means there was even more incentive for Korean women to be prostitutes then than there is now.

    So why is it that Korean women had to be forced to be prostitutes then, but are practically lining up to get in the business now? It doesn’t make sense.

  • jameslayne

    whoops, sorry, i meant to say i saw porno with that stuff goin’ on…if that was goin’ on around me…well, then u can call me doggbert

  • jameslayne

    no offense, dogbertt, but just couldn’t resist

  • http://xanga.com/ughdavid davelee

    LOL!!! damn it sucks that my future wife has a 10% chance of having a hooker-past.

  • dogbertt

    By the way, I’m very serious. I have real trouble with the attitude a lot of Korean men have that Korean women are somehow super virtuous and moral, when the reality seems to be otherwise. I also resent the attitude of many Koreans that Korean women who work overseas as whores are somehow worse than those servicing jameslayne and co. back home. I don’t appreciate the endemic hypocrisy, which I suppose is one of those shortcomings you referred to.

  • dogbertt

    Plus I’m a little fired up from doing battle with the Naver netizens. Anyone who thinks this is an “anti-Korean” site or that the comments here are harsh needs to shut up and take a look at the rabid racism and irrationality of Koreans there. Baduk and nulji are really the tip of the iceberg.

  • http://xanga.com/ughdavid davelee

    im a korean american, and i think i can safely make a generalization (of course there will always be exceptions) that native korean girls are looser (morally and physically) than korean american ones when it comes to sex. the fact that 70% of korean americans claim to be of the christian faith may have something to do with it.

  • Zonath

    Eh… Naver is just the Korean version of Yahoo, as far as the comments section of the news stories goes. People tend to let their ugly sides out when it’s pretty much guaranteed there won’t be any consequences to it. I’m actually sort of gratified that our trolls are kinda somewhat civil for the most part.

  • jameslayne

    my point exactly, dogbertt, the korean ho’s are doing it out of ther own free will, so i really doubt they gonna go over to washington screaming for da bush’s head saying they were forced to it…

    and i don’t know exactly how many korean ho’s are running wild causing mayhem to the international ho market, but it’s just basic supply and demand…asian girls are in high demand, especially korean ho’s with their “u can nottu habu dis” expressions and attitudes…

    as for the economic conditions having a correlation with the supply of ho’s, i really have to disagree with u there, i’ve spent the last 9 years here, and met some various characters, among them “for sale girls,” and damn, they were living the life, they were set. certain girls who are the so called “10 percenters” (because they only leave 10 percent of their fee to the house, because they are in so high demand) are whizzing around dressed head to toe in louis vuitton and prada, cruisin’ in beamers and benzes…u c a lot of them in the banpo area, where most of them live

  • jameslayne

    …and to save a li’l face and convey that i have a bit of moral fiber, i don’t go out seeking the aforementioned services. i’ve reached an age where it’s about time to get settled down, and am lookin’ for girls for the long run…as the public service announcement goes, don’t make a ho a housewife

    and dogbertt, why do u give a rat’s ass what people at naver say…just cheel and let them be…i think an old, wise, kimchi eatin’ korean philosopher once said, u don’t step away from shit ’cause u afraid of it, u step away because it’s, well, shit

  • Zonath

    Back in the days of the comfort women, the Korean economy was much worse and life was a lot worse for Koreans, no? That means there was even more incentive for Korean women to be prostitutes then than there is now.

    More incentive, maybe, but that’s only half of the equation. If there’s not enough prosperity for people to have enough disposible income to pay for ‘entertainment’, then there will be little demand for prostitutes, overall. Even with the Japanese occupiers in the equation, you’re not looking at any huge influx of wealth into the peninsula, except for into the pockets of a select few, so even then, the demand for prostitutes is going to be fairly low, and thus there would be little incentive for most women to take up the trade, which would mean that most women would opt for the more traditional path of marriage and motherhood. Also, take into account that morals in first half of the 20th century in Korea were radically different from today. Now, I’m not saying that given the choice between starvation and prostitution, the average woman would have chosen starvation, but as long as things were going well enough to ensure survival, I’m guessing that most women at the time would not opt for a life on their backs. I’m sure that not all ‘comfort women’ were recruited against their will, but it seems more likely than not, given the situation, that many of them were forced into it. The situation today is very different… more disposible income, more stuff to buy, looser morals. All combined, I would guess that the modern situation lends itself a lot more towards women becoming prostitutes — if not wholesale crack whores, then at least gals with a couple of ‘sugar daddies’ who have them on their speed dials.

  • gbevers

    I think Dave Lee is right. From my experience the average Korean woman in Korea is looser than the average Korean-American women.

    As many of the men in Korea probably already know, it is pretty easy to get laid here in Korea; a couple of beers seems to be the only excuse many women need. However, the Korean-American women I met while studying in Hawaii were quite prudish. It was easy to spot Korean women on the beaches because they were usually the ones wearing shorts and T-shirts instead of bikinis, the ones travelling in large groups, and the ones cooking barbecue under coconut trees.

    So why are there so many prostitutes in Korea? Because prostitution in Korea is socially acceptable in a variety of forms. Even Korean wives seem resigned to the fact that their husbands are going to screw around on them. And as long as their husbands are drunk when they do it, it seems to be excused. Alcohol is used to excuse many things in Korea.

    Nowadays, married women in Korea seem to be following their husbands’ examples, and are also screwing around. I have a feeling that Korea is headed toward a big STD epidemic.

    By the way, last weekend a 34-year-old divorced woman with two kids asked me if I would exchange English lessons for sexual favors. Before that, she had been asking me about my sexual health. She was somewhat overweight, so I just laughed and changed the subject.

  • seouldout

    The whores can’t get visas yet baduk did?

    In the mid ’90s there was a S.K. government report that estimated 750,000 women were providing pay-for-play services. Here’s an asiatimes article that cites the Ministry of Gender Equality’s conservative figure of 500,000, http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Korea/FI25Dg05.html. I just checked the demographics and there are approx. 8 million women between 20 and 39. Ten percent!? Supply and demand seems to dictate that Korean whores will continue to ply their trade in North America. Looks like the visa waiver isn’t going to happen.

  • Sonagi

    @Doggbert: “So why is it that Korean women had to be forced to be prostitutes then, but are practically lining up to get in the business now? It doesn’t make sense. “

    Fifty years ago in the US it was extremely rare for single women to bear and raise children. Now we have eleven and twelve-year-old mothers. Sexual mores and behaviors change over time.

  • Jing

    Just say No… to Korean Ho’s.

    Shag American!

  • JiMong

    A March 2005 U.S. State Department human rights report pointed out that Korean women were being trafficked through Canada and Mexico to work in the U.S. sex industry..

    Build a thousands-miles-long electric fence on Canada/US and Mexico/us border. Or Give a new mission to M.I.B squad! Simple solution, isn’t it?

    Seriously, how much percent of these Korean prostitutes counts in whole U.S prostitution market?

  • Remort

    Gambling is a form of entertainment, probably not the cheapest, but certainly not the most expensive either. What I’m arguing for, isn’t the right to go out and squander your life’s savings, but rather for adults to go out and entertain themselves while having some fun in the process. I’d make the same argument for alcohol, illicit drugs, and prostitution too. While engaging in these activities, it’s simply a perk to society that these “morally reprehensible” activities benefit society as a whole, in the form of public works and social services provided from taxation.

    wjk:

    “Lots of broken lives…” Yeah, I understand that, but if they didn’t screw up their lives from gambling loses, would it have been suicide, divorce, rape, assault, bankruptcy, or even murder instead of relatively harmless gambling? Again, I’d make the same argument in favor of alcohol, illicit drugs, and prostitution… following this same logic.

    –Remort

  • Remort

    dogbertt wrote:

    “By the way, I’m very serious. I have real trouble with the attitude a lot of Korean men have that Korean women are somehow super virtuous and moral, when the reality seems to be otherwise.”

    I could make the exact opposite statement about American, Canadian, British, and Australian women too. The fact of the matter is, people see what they want to see, and hear what they want to hear.

    Beyond that, I think this particular Korean behavior in holding Korean women in a virtuous light is related to their collective Confucian beliefs.

    –Remort

  • Sonagi

    “I could make the exact opposite statement about American, Canadian, British, and Australian women too. The fact of the matter is, people see what they want to see, and hear what they want to hear”

    I rec’ that post, Remort. Several years ago, a KH or KT piece on international marriages featured one American guy who gushed that one of the reasons he married his Korean bride was that she was a virgin. I wanted to write a letter to the editor asking, “Were YOU a virgin on your wedding night?”

  • http://junecho.blogspot.com june

    I would like to point out that Korean women’s sexuality (being sexually loose or whatever) is not the issue here. We are talking about prostitution, which has nothing to do with one’s sexuality.

    But as a person who spoke to a few women who were arrested, I could tell you that not all of them (actually none) were victims of human trafficking. They knew what they would get into when they smuggled into the U.S. They chose to be sex workers because that’s the easiest way to make good money. If the women were lucky enough to have legal papers in the U.S., they would have more options: they could be exotic dancers in strip clubs or hostesses in notorious Korean Room Salon (there are many in LA Koreatown). Honestly, I don’t see any difference between those professions other than who is legal or not legal.

  • Remort

    When I lived in Los Angeles during the 90s I went to the shiatsu massage parlors, with the intent of getting a deep-tissue massage, honest. :P To my surprise, several of the Korean employees could actually speak Japanese, but offered more than just a “massage”. The massage was ok, but nothing like a real shiatsu where it’s so painful you can hardly standup or walk afterward. Certainly not as good as Japan’s soaplands, but then again it was only about a 1/10th the cost of a soapland too.

    What can one say about the prostitution issue? Prostitution isn’t going to go away, no matter what laws are passed, no matter what new diseases come along, and no matter how many of the prostitutes are violently attacked by their customers. The reality of the situation is, most of these women working in “massage parlors” do it out pure economic necessity.

    Although, I was surprised to find that (*blink* I’ve never been to one of these places) some of the women are highly educated. Sorry, I don’t have a dictionary at the moment so I might misspell the Korean term, but when I was a student and before I went to Korea many of my Japanese friends had told me of the “kissean parties” (Korean version of geisha) where hundreds of female Korean university students line up and you have your choice for a little karoake, some dinner, and then on to the hotel for the night.

    So, I’ve known several Korean women from both poor and middle-class families to have worked the kissean parties to pay for university, get the re-virginizing surgery afterward, and then marry. I can’t hardly blame them, being poor in Korea really sucks. They have almost an identical setup to this in Taiwan too.

    –Remort

  • http://www.icebergkorea.com Iceberg

    Baduk and nulji are really the tip of the iceberg. – dogbertt

    For the record, the tip of the iceberg has never been – nor shall ever be – referred to as baduk or nulji.

  • Sonagi

    Nice pun, Ice!

  • http://xanga.com/ughdavid davelee

    some punitive pun usage from the punisher

  • http://kushibo.blogspot.com kushibo

    Plus I’m a little fired up from doing battle with the Naver netizens.

    Would that be the 0.84% of the viewing population who leaves a comment at Naver? Or would that be the 11,878 members of the “Super-Comment Tribe” who leave a little over half of all comments?

    Tip of the icecube, indeed.

  • dogbertt

    Do the numbers really matter? People debate you online all the time.

  • Brendon Carr

    Kushibo is one of my very favorite Marmot’s Hole-ians. He’s brainy and thoughtful, plus generally respectful to everyone else. Don’t rag Kushibo, because your alternatives are the Crazy Cat and Our Pride Our Cool.

  • http://kushibo.blogspot.com kushibo

    Brendon, you kiss-ass. You’re just trying to get me to send some more drug arrestees your way. ;)

    And maybe get me to give you and Shelton Meredith and Cindy’s home number.

  • MrChips

    Iceberg, I concur that was fairly witty of u.

    Somebody alluded to the idea that 8,000 is probably roughly the same percentage of Koreans doing prostitution as any other ethnicity in the US. That may be true I don’t know. If we guess that there are roughly 1.3 million Koreans in the US (including expired visasa, etc.) and even round up the total US population to 300,000,000 then that means there would be around 1,846,000 prostitutes in the US. Does that sound right? Goldie Locks porridge I imagine: too much, too little, or sounds about right?

  • MrChips

    My hunch would be that LA’s police department is shooting high here and that they are trying to extrapolate (guess and inflate) for those who might be involved in part-time adult entertainment which could be just about anything, including internet porn. If that’s the case, just under 2,000,000 in the US wouldn’t surprise me at all; would seem a bit low actually. BUT, if the lions share of this “work force” is in and around LA I could see why the police would speak up about it.

  • Brendon Carr

    Kushibo — no thanks on the drug arrestees. They’re not at all lucrative clients (even though they think they are) and the work is often at odd hours. If they find us on their own we’re pretty weak about saying no (people in need, and all that) but as a general principle we prefer a different group of clients. Plus it’s such a stupid way to spend money — on lawyers’ fees. Say no to drugs, kids!

  • kpmsprtd

    At the risk of seeming politically correct, I object to the use of the word “whore.” It is extremely judgemental and has such negative connotations.
    I probably wouldn’t be able to get you to go along with “doctoress” or “sexual healer,” but what about something like “working girl”? Now, doesn’t that sound better…

  • seouldout

    Whore works for me…lexically and professionally. Feel free to use whatever euphemism you fancy. No objections here.

  • Remort

    For as long as there are material desires to be had, prostitution will prosper.

    I’ll bet the 10% statistic of Korean women who engaged in prostitution is probably accurate, if not slightly understated. This of course doesn’t account for the legalized version of prostitution though, marriage. :P

    –Remort

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