The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

Tag: Prostitution (page 1 of 3)

High-end call girl service busted

Police in—sit down for this—Gangnam have busted a 27-year-old woman woman for being a really, really high-end call girl. They’re looking for her employer and some other folk involved.

The woman in question was advertised as a step above your average prostitute as a graduate of a prestigious Seoul university and being with a entertainment management company. When she turned up at the police station for questioning, she had a luxury bag and drove to the station in a Mercedes Benz C300.

Tall, thin and surgically well-sculpted, she was charging 800,000 won for her services—three to four times the normal rate.

Moreover, the company she worked for only provided her services at one of seven luxury hotels in Gangnam.

Police, however, say that while they talked a lot about “class,” it was ultimately just a shabby ruse to avoid detection and save money.By reserving rooms one week in advance, they could save cash and provide service to multiple customers a day. And by regularly changing hotels, they could lessen the risk of detention.

Police are now looking for the head of the service, some 42-year-old dude who drew up fake profiles for his 23 employees and posted them on the Net along with racy photos. On the company’s website, young men also posted reviews, which strikes me as a bad idea. Police are looking for the johns, too.

A police official said that while the girls tried to market themselves as something else, they were no different from other prostitutes who commercialized their bodies and made easy money. In fact, it was all just a rip-off, he said.

That, folks, might have been the most bewildering police comment about a prostitution case I’ve read.

He also regretted the reality in which young, college-educated women end up selling themselves because they get hooked on luxury goods and plastic surgery.

Well, I can assure you they don’t feel nearly as bad as this guy.

A nine-story brothel? OK, Korea Times, you have my attention.

Vertical integration is a wonderful thing:

Police said Sunday they had uncovered a suspected brothel operating in a nine-story building, and fronted by a hostess bar and hotel, in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul.
Police suspect almost every floor of the building was used as a brothel. Jung ran at least three floors, including one in the basement, as a hostess bar where the women served liquor to male customers and performed oral sex, according to investigators.

They added a large number of the customers were escorted to hotel rooms between the sixth and ninth floors, paying 330,000 won ($310) for sex with the hostesses.

Also on the War on Prostitution front, one of Gyeongsangnam-do’s most respected provincial assemblymen has resigned after he was busted at Changwon “ear cleaning parlor,” which often are fronts for prostitution. He claims the slogan “Ear Cleaning, Ear Massage” made him curious. The lawmaker in question had long been a critic of major projects in the region.

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.

Doesn’t the use of the present progressive suggest they haven’t done so already?

That’s what came to mind when I read this headline.


Open Thread #268

Just say "no"

Much to my surprise, seen on the number 2 Green line this week.

This is as a summation of various threads on the blog this week.  Have a good weekend.

Cops looking at Japanese websites on Korean prostitution

In an exclusive, Ye Olde Chosun is reporting that Seoul’s Finest have found 16 websites promoting Korean prostitution to Japanese. The operators of five have been caught and are being investigation; police are looking for the operators of the rest.

The sites basically provide a wealth of information on the various forms of prostitution in Korea. Users trade info and post their experiences. One lovely fellow even wrote that one working girl got very angry when he asked her in Korean, “How does it feel to have sold herself to Japanese, who invaded her homeland?” Classy.

Some prof at Konkuk University told the Chosun that these sites could give Japanese reason to disrespect Korea. They needed to be shut down as they have people a distorted view of Korea, he said.

David Batstone, a San Francisco University professor and head of the non-profit group “Not For Sale,” said during a July visit to Korea that while women in developing countries often engage in prostitution to make money, Korea was an odd case since prostitution was prevalent despite Korea’s high per capita income.

One in nine defector women work in tea houses, bars

YTN reports that one in nine North Korean defector women work in entertainment establishments like dabang tea houses and karaoke clubs.

And of these women, many earn their money through prostitution.

Granted, defectors get money from the government to help them settle, but according to the report, defectors often have to pay most of that money to the “brokers” who helped them get out of North Korea.

Many of these women also secretly send money back to North Korea to help their families.

Interestingly enough, of the 24,000 North Korean defectors living in the South, 70% are women.

We need hookers for illegal immigrants: former police chief

Kim Jang-ja—whom you may remember as the field general in the KNP’s war against Mia-ri Texas a couple of years back—thinks we need legalized, licensed prostitution. Why, you ask?

“There are members of society for whom it is difficult to find partners, such as the disabled, illegal immigrants and widowers. Society needs to address the needs of these individuals by allowing prostitution in restricted areas,” Kim said in an interview with The Korea Times.

Just something for our British cousins to consider.

So, did banning prostitution lead to increase in sex crimes?

Well, according to cell phone poll data from Gallup Korea posted in the Dong-A Ilbo, 48% of Koreans seem to think so. In particular, 56% of men think the ban has led to an increase in sex crimes, as opposed to only 41% of women who believe so.

48% of Koreans also think prostitution should be permitted in certain areas. Again, many more men (58%) than women (39%) think prostitution should be legalized.

85% of Koreans think we should expand the scope of sex offenders who get chemically castrated. Women (89%) were particularly keen on this.

52% of Koreans think electronic anklets don’t help to reduce the number of sexual assaults, but 67% think releasing the personal info of sex offenders is effective.

For those keeping score at home, the 2004 Special Law on Prostitution marks its eighth year on Sunday. So mark your calendars and celebrate by not employing the services of a prostitute that night.

The Dong-A ran the data along with two opinion pieces, one by a Halla University business professor and the other by an instructor—I’m guessing either sociology or women’s studies—at SNU’s international grad school.

The econ guy argues, essentially:

– The 2004 law did nothing to reduce prostitution. In fact, it just made it more complicated by shutting down the red-light districts.

– The law also caused costs and prices to rise, preventing low-income johns from entering the marketplace.

– Block assess to sex without changing basic desires, and bad things happen. Nobel Prize winning economist Gary Becker wrote that crime happens if the potential reward outweighs the potential cost. So it goes with sex crimes, too. The cost to sex criminals, if they are caught, is the psychological and physical costs of prison life. For low income folk, the cost of prison life is likewise low. The prof says the fact that most of those caught sexually assaulting kids have been unemployed is no accident.

– He also notes that sex crimes per capita have climbed between 2007 and 2011, as has the percentage of sex crimes against children. Moreover, if you examine crime stats from the six years prior to the 2004 law and the six years after it, we find that the percentage of sexually violent crimes committed by the very poor climbed 3 percentage points, from 70.5% to 73.5%. During the same time, the percentage of thefts committed by the very poor actually fell, and the percentage of burglaries committed by the poor climbed just 1.4 percentage points. What we see, therefore, is a marked increase in sexual violence by low-income offenders since the ban on prostitution.

– Of course, you could strengthen punishments, but that could also lead to more rapists killing their victims to cover up their crimes, as we’re seeing now.

– Basically, we really need to reconsider if the Special Law on Prostitution is worth paying the costs that come with it.

The sociologist, on the other hand, argues:

– The experience in Western countries where prostitution is legal is that it’s impossible to restrict prostitution to certain districts. Moreover, even where prostitution is legal, sexual violence is on the rise.

– If there was a direct connection, sexual violence should have been widespread in the former socialist world, where the sex industry did not develop, or in Northern European nations like Sweden, where there are very few prostitutes. Instead, the reality is quite the opposite.

– The Suwon killer, Oh Won-chun, did regularly frequent prostitutes, but he still tried to rape another woman. Due to the special character of sex, you can’t simply conclude that the easier you can purchase sex, the fewer the sex crimes will be.

– The problems with enforcing the Special Law come from a social culture that views prostitution as a form of entertainment, particularly among the rich and powerful. It’s not right to call for the Special Law to be abolished citing its failure to lower prostitution knowing full well the law can’t be effective as long as there are groups in society supporting the sex industry.

– Prostitutes usually begin working in their teens, come from poor families or broken homes and were unable to learn skills and knowledge demanded by society. Few women volunteer to become prostitutes.

– Sure, prostitution will never completely disappear, but neither will poverty, war, drugs and other crimes. We should still work to reduce them.

– It’s shameful that in a country with a top 10 economy that might soon elect a woman as president that we’ve got so many prostitutes. We should increase jobs for women and expand welfare and education so that women don’t get caught up in prostitution.

Marmot’s Note: It’s worth noting that neither of the writers were women.

K-community down under at war with Korean prostitutes

Koreans in Australia are calling for a crackdown on Korean prostitutes pushing the flesh on working holiday visas in Aussie land.

More than 2,000 Koreans living in Australia have expressed their willingness to join a street campaign in Sydney, an alliance of the communities said Thursday.

“It’s known that about 1,000 Korean prostitutes are working in Australia. That’s about 17 percent of all prostitutes in the country,” the group said in a statement.

Frankly, said one Korean resident, it’s embarrassing.

“Some jokingly say prostitutes are one of Korea’s major export items. It is shameful for all of us.”

The K-pros have the market cornered through aggressive leaflet campaigns and ads in local papers.

Insert “no happy ending to this growing problem” joke here.

And in order to promote good, wholesome blogging…

I will not link to the Dong-A Ilbo’s top story at the moment about Koreans forced into prostitution in Japan, nor will we gloat at Japan being listed a “Tier 2” nation in the US State Department’s latest human trafficking report (Korea, like most of the rest of the developed world, is a Tier 1 nation).

And we definitely won’t link to the Kwak Hyeon-hwa Banana Controversy, which you could read more about in English here.

Sex, Anti-Korean Sentiment and Videotape

The Chosun continues its war on overseas Korean prostitution with a disturbing tale of sex, hidden cameras and Japanese anti-Korean Wave demonstrators.

Sorry, but where would you rather read this? Here or at Japan Probe?

Anyway, last year, 21 videos—apparently under the title, “Sad Situation of the Korean Entertainment World”—got uploaded on a Japanese adult website depicting a Japanese dude in a what appears to be a Japanese hotel having sex with 20 Korean girls (for those doing the math at home, one girl apparently appears in two of the videos).

The guy has his face pixelated, but the girls’ faces can be clearly seem.

One of the girls called a prostitute human rights center and said she wanted to die. She’d gone overseas to, ahem, work, but now had her face all over the Internet because somebody had secretly taped her. Another one of the girls in the videos has also received psychological treatment.

Police in Busan, after watching the videos many times, finally found about one or two seconds of video in which the man’s face isn’t pixelated. Police asked around about him, showing the screen capture to girls who’d gone overseas as prostitutes. The girls said this guy absolutely needed to be captured and punished, and using their network, they began to search for him. Just a day after showing the girls his photo, police learned the man in the videos is a Japanese named “Takahashi.”

Nam Jae-woo, a team head at Busan Police’s international crime investigation division, said when one considers the fact that the victimized women spotted this “Takahashi” douchebag (my word, not the Chosun’s) conducting a one-man “anti-Korean Wave” demonstration in Tokyo, it appears he secretly filmed the videos and uploaded them on the Internet out of anti-Korean sentiment.

Busan police have sent the man’s ID to Japanese police and requested a joint-investigation, but they’ve yet to hear back from Japan.

Police expressed frustration, saying because of the great harm suffered by the Korean girls, they want to know if this Takahashi has been punished, but there has been no communication. They said it’s a problem that when cases of overseas prostitution occur, cooperation with the police of the country in question doesn’t go smoothly.

Tired of beating up on drunks, Chosun declares war on Korean prostitutes abroad

Intent on creating a fun-free world, Ye Olde Chosun ends its war against public drunkeness and begins a new one against another vice—Korea’s “export” of prostitution.

To sum up—Korea exports a lot of prostitutes to America. Didn’t know about the dozens of Korean prostitutes who got lost for several days in Glacier National Park trying to smuggle themselves into the United States in 2005, though. They eventually got picked up by Border Patrol (who, thankfully, weren’t blowing each other at Cirque du Soleil this time), but they were badly bitten by mosquitoes. Anyway, a Korean in LA said because of this, while South and Central America is seen by the media as the source of drugs, Korea is the source of illicite massage girls.

Korean prostitution has been perhaps an even bigger problem in Australia, where it has caused something of a diplomatic dispute and Korean diplomats have written Sydney mayors asking them to “dob in” Korean working girls. A white guy in Australia was also killed trying to “rescue” a Korean prostitute and another prostitute was set alight in Sydney by a spurned john. The Korean government asked Hojustan to strengthen its visa screenings of Korean women (I wonder how many governments ask foreign states to get tougher with their citizens), but it’s students wishing to study abroad who are paying the price.

Apparently lots of working girls in Japan, too, thanks to stength of the yen and the fact that Koreans can stay 90 days without a visa. According to the Chosun, you can find many Korean girls working as “delivery health” (where the eff do the Japanese come up with these terms?) providers in Tokyo’s love hotel district.

Interestingly, while some Korean gangs sending girls to Japan have been busted, Korean working girls in Japan have almost never been arrested since they look like Japanese girls and are working under the protection of Japanese crime organizations.

You’ve got a growing number of Korean college girls doing part-time work in the entertainment establishments of Shanghai, too.

Christ, you’ve even got Korean massage joints in American movies (“Couple’s Retreat,” “Hall Pass”) and CSI!

Mind you, it’s not just girls going abroad (although there’s a lot of them, too—a 2010 Ministry of Gender Equality report estimates the number of Korean working girls abroad at 100,000, with 50,000 in Japan alone, and Korea is believed to provide the largest number of prostitutes to the United States, followed by Thailand, Peru and Mexico). It’s guys going abroad and bringing their nighttime entertainment culture with them. Lots of Korean-style brothels popping up throughout Asia, including Russia and Uzbekistan, where, as the Chosun points out, Korean guys wanting to meet white chicks go.

I bet the do-gooders at the Ministry of Gender of Equality weren’t counting on this when the Special Law on Prostitution got passed in 2004.

Harris Country’s war on naughty massage parlors

The Houston Chronicle reports that Harris County, Texas is suing to get several massage parlors shut down.

Now why did I read about this in the Chosun Ilbo, you ask? Well…

The petitions allege that the spas are dens of prostitution and human trafficking. Proprietors use young women, mostly from Korea, to perform services, according to senior assistant county attorney Fred Keys, the lead lawyer on the cases.

This shit in Harris County has been ugly—in September, the assistant county attorney working to shut down these places claims to have been beaten in her own home by unknown assailants (although I take it not everybody sympathizes, and there are questions about the attack).

Anyway, more great stories brought to you by the 2004 Special Law on Prostitution.

Workshop: ‘U.S. Military Camptown Prostitution in Korea: 1945-Present’

The Women’s Global Solidarity Action Network (WGSAN) will be hosting a free workshop under the title “U.S. Military Camptown Prostitution in Korea: 1945-Present”. The workshop will be given by Professor Nah Young Lee.

The film screening free workshop will be on Saturday, June 9th from 2-5 at the Columban Mission Center. To get to the center, take line 4 to the Sungshin Women’s University Entrance stop. Go out exit 4 and a building with a traditional Korean roof (hanok) will be in front of you. Go into the building and up to the second floor. Please note the center is very close to exit 4, and not on the University’s campus.

For more information email:

For the facebook event page:

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