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Court questions anti-prostitution law

Looks like the Constitutional Court is going to have to rule on whether the 2004 Special Law on Prostitution violates the Constitution:

In an interesting development, a Seoul court has asked the Constitutional Court to deliberate on the constitutionality of sex trade.

The Seoul court referred the case of a 41-year-old Kim who was charged with violating the special law on sex trade by receiving payment for offering sex services to the Constitutional Court.

While sex trade in itself is illegal and prohibited, the court said, it has to be debated as to whether voluntary engagement of sexual activities for payment is illegal and should be subject to punishment.

The Dong-A Ilbo—which, it should be pointed out, has done some spectacular reporting on this subject in that past—has been all over this ruling.

One of the things the court noted is that concubinage and “local wife contracts” (i.e., women arranging to act as “local wives” for foreigners, typically Japanese) are not punished, while women who sell sex to unspecified individuals are, despite the fact that fundamentally, they are all doing the same thing.

The Dong-A also reported that prostitutes are welcoming the ruling, but women’s groups are not.

Marmot’s Note: As I’ve said before, I simply cannot wrap my head around a law that punishes a woman for selling something that she can give away for free all she likes. That women’s groups are calling for women to be punished for deciding what to do with their own sexuality also reminds me of the criticism made in The Handmaid’s Tale of the war some feminists launched on pornography in the 1980s.

Anyway, as one of the Dong-A pieces notes, the Constitutional Court has held up the law against adultery no fewer than four times, and even the Seoul court seemed to say that completely banning prostitution was OK even if punishing prostitutes as criminals wasn’t. Which means we probably shouldn’t expect the court to rule that banning prostitution constitutes excessive state interference in the private lives of the citizens. It will still be interesting to see how the Constitutional Court handles the equal protection issues, though.

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  • Jang

    ” concubinage and “local wife contracts” (i.e., women arranging to act as
    “local wives” for foreigners, typically Japanese) are not punished”

    But there is a law against fake marriages so that sounds like a regulation issue and there’s already a plan to make it tougher.  If they want to start regulating the fake F visa marriage law there won’t be any complaints by me.  The judge should take his complaint to the police or immigration, what a dork.  Why does he sidestep the issue?  With the issue at hand(prostitution), as it stands the court is halfway to legalizing selling sex, all they have to do is just let females do it like males already can.

  • http://www.bcarr.com/ Brendon Carr

    The Seoul court referred the case of a 41-year-old Kim who was charged with violating the special law on sex trade by receiving payment for offering sex services to the Constitutional Court.

    How much was 41-year-old Kim paid for offering sex services to the Constitutional Court?

  • Jang

    Do I need to explain?

  • Madar

    I suspect the local wives provide house keeping and other “services”, not paper marriages and vias.

  • Koreandumbdumb

    It should be illegal so that the price is high.  When the price is high, demand decreases.   So, less of it to go around.  Otherwise, we will have a pro standing in every street corner calling elementary student for $10 per pop.   No way.  It should be kept illegal.  If a guy wants to have his fill, get on the plane to Thailand.  If cannot afford the plane ticket, go f*** yourself.

  • http://www.bcarr.com/ Brendon Carr

    When the price is high, supply also increases. Do you remember that from economics class?

  • Jang

    Relying on the supply/demand theory in S. Korea is ridiculous.

  • RMilner

    “I simply cannot wrap my head around a law that punishes a woman for selling something that she can give away for free all she likes.”

    In South Korea and many other countries, there are various social pressures to prevent women from “giving it away for free”.

  • hoju_saram

    Selling is legal, fucking is legal – why isn’t selling fucking legal?

  • R. Elgin

    . . . As I’ve said before, I simply cannot wrap my head around a law that
    punishes a woman for selling something that she can give away for free
    all she likes.

    Okay, wrap your head around this Robert: many times these women are not just selling their bodies but are part of an enterprise run by pimps.  These pimps don’t pay taxes and deliberately bring harm to many of these women.  It is also not uncommon for a number of these women to be forced to sell themselves to pay back loans taken out from local loan sharks, who often have a relationship with local spas so that the women are selling sex in public spas – the same spas that host events for pregnant women and kids during the day.  All of this business is on a cash basis, thus is untracked.  Let me quote directly from the Official Site of Korean Tourism, regarding “convenience facilities” at spas and saunas in Korea: “There
    are
    a
    variety
    of
    free
    and
    charged
    facilities.
    Only
    cash
    is
    accepted,
    so
    you
    must
    carry
    your
    wallet
    to
    use
    charged
    services.”

    Korea IS in the sex business and these pack of hypocrites need to decide wither or not to make it legitimate and tax and regulate this activity or continue the massive campaign of lies and suffering.

  • Koreandumbdumb

    I still think when the price goes up due to government intervention the demand decreases.  Marijuana is the case in point.   However, when it gets legalized, price comes down and demand may sky rocket.  That could be the end of the US.  Can you imagine elementary school children doing it during lunch hour?  God forbid.

  • http://www.bcarr.com/ Brendon Carr

    baduk — Price increase means demand decrease, except in the weird cases of Veblen goods (Koreans, in my observation, are enthusiastic consumers of Veblen goods). Price increase also draws out additional suppliers, thereby increasing supply and bringing the market to a new equilibrium.

  • Palladin9479

     That’s not how Supply / Demand work.  Supply does not drive Demand it services it.

    Making something illegal does not reduce demand, “War on Drugs” and prohibition both demonstrated this point.  All making something illegal does is artificially add additional risk and production costs, in theory this would be passed on as an increase in price but that’s not what actually happens.  Instead it’s partially taken out of profit with the cost to the customer being whatever the market will bear.  The producer will have a decision to make, if they pass the full cost increase on to the customer then the raising of the price could discourage sales, if they take the full hit sales will remain the same but profitability will go down.  Most business’s do elaborate market studies to determine the optimum price point and use that as a base for deciding how much if any of the increased costs to pass on.  In the case of prostitution, the demand for no-strings-attached sex is rather high and the producers can feel comfortable passing on the increased costs without damaging sales.

    Of course being an illegal activity means no reporting is done and there is no need to maintain sanitary conditions nor maintain workers rights.  Prostitutes can’t form a union to negotiate better work conditions if their job is considered illegal.

    Now there is a point where the cost of production is so high that it prices itself out of the market.  Seeing as sex can be provided by any female human resource, I don’t see that ever happening.

  • nayacasey

    Robert, I agree with your point about the law punishing women for selling something they can give away. The first time I heard that was back in the 1980s when the Mayflower Madam (Sidney Biddle Barrows) said it after her escort business got busted.

    In addition to using those organs to make money, I suppose the same logic behind the “can give away but can’t sell it” could be applied to selling other vital organs–such as a kidney. At the Joognang Ilbo, Eom Eul-soon makes the argument against making money off any of your vital organs.

    Eom Eul-soon wrote:

    So can she be legally prevented from selling sex? When money is involved, sex becomes a product. As such, the act of prostitution may not be that different from selling a kidney. The organ trade is obviously illegal, which would also put the sex trade on the wrong side of the law. Also, the act itself disturbs the social order and is unethical, so it’s not a personal choice but a social matter. Even if there’s mutual agreement, it should be punished under criminal law to maintain social order.

  • nayacasey

    R. Elgin–Does it help the women by arresting them?

  • Jang

    To shut up Korean women(prostitutes) and their demonstrating the law should allow them to sell sex just like Korean men already can without any punishment, just go after the male and female “Johns”.  Only prohibit the purchasing of sex for both genders.  This way, Korean women can’t complain about not being able to work for a living without direct punishment – infamous Korean human labor rights theory debunked.  Currently, men and women can’t buy sex and women can’t sell sex.  But, men can. Just let both genders sell sex and S. Korea can put another feather in its cap by saying it believes in equal rights.

  • RolyPoly

    You can say what you want but the fact is when something becomes illegal the price goes up and the demand decreases because it is less affordable.   When prostitution became illegal a decade ago, the price has gone up for $50 to $200 per pop and it reduced the demand.  People can only see a prostitute once a month, instead of once a week. I see one every day but I don’t.  It is a sin.  And, I do not want to go to Hell.