Facts Everyone Should Know About the History of Korea’s Laws & Regulations on the Sex Industry

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written by gkim

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  • Abolition laws against the sex industry of Korea were all enacted in the 1900’s. Before then, there were no legal restrictions on the industry.
  • In the 1920’s, juvenile sexual services were made illegal.
  • In the 1940’s, sexual services of the elderly/seniors were made illegal.
  • In the 1960’s the “Yula” law was enacted. This law had a moral connotation. It stated that the sellers, buyers, and mediators of sex were all corrupt. This “yula” law was enacted in 1961. Before this law, there was no law which criminalized prostitution.
  • Back when Korea was taken over by Japanese Imperialism, the Korean government was promoting prostitution. The government became the pimps. Additionally, when the US soldiers came to the aid of South Korea during the Korean War, although the national promotion of prostitution was abolished, they began to promote it around the US army camp bases. Subsequently, the Korean government started generating a tremendous amount of profit from the sex industry.
  • In the 1970’s, simply all forms of prostitution were made illegal.
  • After the 1970’s sex tourism packages were marketed with Korean geishas. This became very popular, especially with the Japanese on Jeju Island. Because of the high demand and serious profits, the government prohibited it yet promoted it at the same time.
  • In the 1980’s, sex trafficking became a serious issue in Korea. The sex industry was being highly promoted through sex tourism. Pimps began kidnapping girls from residential areas and forcing them into brothels. Despite such activity, the government did nothing to convict the buyers of sex, although once in a while, the traffickers would be criminalized.
  • In the early 2000’s, there was a huge change in the famous brothel and red light district areas such as Goonsan, Chungryangri, Jullahdo Goonsan, DaeMyongDong, and GaepoDong. The change happened when there was arson in two of these brothels. In 2000, 5 girls died, and in 2002, 14 girls died. When the police went inside to investigate after the fires were put out, they found that the girls had died because they were locked and chained inside. There was no escape as all the windows were sealed as well. After this, more awareness spread on human trafficking and exploitation. Before these fires, prostitution was widely accepted regardless of the laws in place.
  • Consequently, due to the grisly discoveries which were made after the fire incidents, a newly revised, special legislation was passed on prostitution  in 2004. This law is the anti-prostitution law (Special Law on Sex Trade 2004) prohibiting the buying and selling of sex. The revisions in this law are widely recognized as being ineffective today. One of these new clauses punishes the procurers or mediators of prostitution or sex trafficking. This clause specifically strengthened punishments, which includes seizing all profits generated through sexual services. The other clause criminalizes trafficking–where girls are subjected to threats, violence, and involuntary sex. Another special clause states that the girls would be recognized as victims, not violators of the law. It is a protection and prevention law. This law also has the purpose of educating the people of the effects of buying and selling sex. Johns can be prosecuted as well as pimps. Previously, the government released pimps if they paid a simple fine. A lot of buyers of sex are still unaware of the revisions and new law. They continue to believe that buying sex is legal.
  • Because of the lack of awareness in the Korean society, first time offenders who buy girls for sex are not convicted. They are sent to “john” schools instead. John schools were first founded in 1995 in the US. Korea implemented the John school programs in the 2000’s.
  • Once the new anti-prostitution law was enacted in 2004, the largest group of protesters against this law was the group of prostitutes. Many did not understand why they would be criminalized for selling sex when they were voluntarily doing it. They believed that the government was taking away their only source of income. They argue that they are providing services of their own will. Most girls who have been convicted and fined for selling sex have had to return to selling sex illegally in order to pay these fines.
  • Currently, the Korean government is discussing the possibility of revising this anti-prostitution law. They are questioning whether or not this law violates human rights. Korea is a nation of liberal democracy. So if someone’s freedom does not harm others, how could they view this as wrong? This is their debate against the other side who says that although these girls are not free to sell sex, if they were free to sell sex, this would harm society as a whole. There is social harm in prostitution. These two parties who argue against each other have come to no conclusion.
  • Ironically, although sex is illegally sold and is against the law, there is also a law that protects people who have sexually transmitted diseases that were spread via sexual services.
  • The current Korean laws are morally grounded. Criminal laws should not have a moral connotation to them. Also the law interprets trafficking and force in a limited sense, apart from what international laws deemed by the UN state. The Korean law states that force is only done physically and with abduction, violence, abuse, or confinement. There is no mental or emotional threat aspect to to it.
  • In 2010 and 2013, national surveys were conducted in Korea. The purpose was to find out how the girls got into the industry and how did girls who got out of the industry fare. The findings were rather typical and common, and there was nothing outstanding or surprising. Many of the girls had experienced sexual abuse growing up, came from broken families, ran away from home at a young age, or were abandoned and orphaned. love
  • Although the selling of sex is illegal, the red light districts, room salons, hostess bars, massage parlors, and in-call services continue to operate in clear view of everyone. Red light districts have signs that warn children from entering. These areas have police stations adjacent to the alleyways. However nothing is done by law enforcement to help or rescue the women, stop the illegal activities, or arrest pimps and johns.

Korean Sex Establishments–part 3–Doemi Services

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singing in karaoke

written by gkim

Doemi services, otherwise known as karaoke bar call girl services, are growing at an alarming rate. They are a rapidly growing Korean phenomenon in the sex industry. Overall, the Koreatowns around the USA are said to have a cumulative total of about 5000 to 7000 doemis waiting on standby to be called to a karaoke bar (noraebang) per night on the weekends. This is how a doemi business operates: A group of people will go into a karaoke bar to rent a room by the hour (which is a pretty common form of social entertainment in the Korean community). Then they will either call the doemis directly, or they’ll ask the karaoke bar to call a doemi service on their behalf. The doemis will usually be waiting around in vans or streets outside the karaoke bar so that they are within walking distance if they are called. Once they are called, they enter the room they were called to inside the karaoke bar, and they basically begin to set a party vibe. They will sing, drink, and dance with the group at a rate anywhere from $60-$100 an hour. Many of these doemis accept sexual requests if they develop a bond with someone they meet, or if someone offers them a certain amount of money. This trend, which slowly trickled over from South Korea into the U.S. starting about 6 years ago, has grown out of control.

The doemi business has expanded so much that it has become quite difficult to differentiate between the doemi girls and regular club and bar hopping party-goers in the Koreatown night life. It seems like a new, popular and fun fad that Korean culture is going through, however it is extremely harmful for many reasons. Doemis are victimized whether they are aware of it or not. They are God’s precious daughters.

Here are some basic facts everyone–customers and doemis–should be aware of:

  • This doemi business is becoming a gateway into a more hardcore sector of the sex industry. Many doemis never imagine they will eventually succumb to a darker side of the industry, but a lot of them do.
  • It’s addictive because the money is quickly earned, and as time passes, the girl may be coerced or succumb to saying yes to just about anything.
  • There are health implications associated with consuming large amounts of alcohol in one night while hopping from one group to another while working with different parties. Sometimes drugs can be available and the girls are exposed to and pressured into trying it with their groups.
  • The girls are exposed and vulnerable to being fondled and harassed verbally and physically because they are being paid.
  • It is demeaning and objectifying for girls to dress in provocative gear and get paid to entertain a group of people to be seductive, sexual, and ogled, although actual sex may not occur in the karaoke room.
  • Paying for girls to provide entertainment is not the same as paying for a violinist to play the violin for you. The doemi services are pure objectification, exploitation, and violation of women as human beings.
  • Doemi girls make easy money, therefore many end up feeling shameful and are stigmatized by society. The ones I have spoken to who have gotten out of the industry have expressed immense regret.
  • Supporting the doemi business can have a detrimental effect on families. Fathers and husbands who utilize doemi services may one day be lured into cheating or come to find that their own daughters are working in this industry.
  • The doemi business is harmful to Korean culture and society as it is multiplying. People view Korean girls to be sexual objects, materialistic, and loose.
  • Doemi girls are victimzed, even though they have usually made the choice to be in this industry and many are unaware of what is happening to them as human beings. Their souls and bodies are being disrespected and abused. They become spiritually and mentally trapped.
  • The Korean doemi business is affecting other ethnic groups, as they advertise on well-known sites. Many Caucasian, Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian, Filipino, Vietnamese, and Latino girls can be found working as doemi girls as well, not to mention that many non-Korean men have started going to Koreatown to gain access to the doemi services.
  • Customers who call doemi services view these services as fun entertainment. This is not the case. Because of the high influx of men paying for girls to sit with them, the doemi services are growing rapidly. The Korean community must come together to stop the demand.
  • Many people say that it is impossible and a waste of time to try and stop this business from proliferating. These same people say that it is pointless for churches and pastors to fight the sex industry, that sex work is the oldest profession in the world–and that it is never going to end. These people need to study history and read some books on William Wilberforce.
  • Men and women, customers, owners, and workers who are involved in the doemi business–are usually victimized by greed and abuse–especially mentally and emotionally.
  • The doemi business is a part of the sex industry, even though their work does not always lead to sex. They are selling the idea of sex and being sexual for money with strangers.
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If you are a worker wanting to get out of this industry, a person contemplating on working in a noraebang as a doemi, an ex-worker trying to avoid stigmatization and attacks or dealing with guilt and shame, a trafficker selling girls into the industry, a doemi service owner, a taxi driver driving the girls and johns to and fro, an ex-worker who wants to help others get out, or anyone who is associated with or a supporter of the industry, please contact us. There are many people who would like to help you, pray with you, and love you in the name of Christ.

Don’t get into the doemi business. More importantly–Don’t support the doemis business as a customer. Help spread awareness. Help protect these women from being victimized. Pray that the young girls, who are getting into the industry so easily and without concern, may be transformed through the Gospel and know that they are so valuable and beyond previous. Pray that the girls, who have been horribly abused and believe this is their only option, will be given justice and a fresh new future. May they hear God’s voice calling out to them. Lord, break our hearts as your heart breaks, so that we may fight for your freedom and justice to reign over our precious community. Give the Korean community better judgement and distinct, clear discernment between what is acceptable by you and what is not. Oh come and help us Lord!

Korean Sex Establishments–part 2–Asian / Korean Massage Parlors

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written by gkim

blog#2 massage signThis is just one of many massage parlor signs littered across the Korean communities in the world. So many corners with so many different signs that represent the rampantly growing sex industry… This one clearly reads “massage” in Korean however, I walk inside one of these places to ask for their pricing, and I’m turned away. Their answer is simply: “You’re in the wrong place.” No explanation, no apologies, no excuses.

If I were a male walking into this establishment, I would have been greeted by the hosts at the front desk. Payment would’ve been required there ranging anywhere from $50 -$200 depending on the city. Next, I would have gone downstairs into a locker room where I would store my belongings and get into a robe they provided for me. I would head over to a sauna full of men while I wait for my turn. A female madam would appear in the sauna full of naked men, and beckon me. Then, I would be escorted into my own room where a naked “masseuse” would be waiting. Once the door shuts behind me, this young girl would disrobe me and begin to bathe me in the shower that is inside the room. Midway through this, she would perform oral sex. Next, she would guide me to a massage table where I would lie face down as she situates herself onto my backside and does devious acts that most people would never think of performing. She’ll finally lead me to the bed where a condom is put on and sex would occur. In some places, the condom usage depends on what the client desires, and the workers must comply. There are many places that offer more than one woman per client as well. Who would I possibly run into at these joints? Mostly married men consisting of CEOs of huge corporations, corporate employees, bored singles, some tourists, and a number of deportees. Yes, this is very explicit. But we must tell be fully aware and spread the truth about what is happening. If not, more girls will be sold into the dangerous sex industry, and people will be oblivious to the reality of what is going on behind closed doors.

Are these girls enjoying what they do? Well, let’s get the perspective of ex-workers who have gotten out of the sex industry. Not a single one says they have enjoyed it. Also, the majority of these girls are forced, trafficked, and sold into this type of work and there are many who end up viewing it as their only choice in life. Many men are fooled by their smiles or stories, and they don’t see these women as victims. Many of these women are enslaved and will not expose their truths to total strangers. They have no voice, no one to turn to, and they trust very few people to reveal their stories to. These types of massage parlors follow Koreans into the States and all over the world. In America, San Francisco is the mecca for Asian/ Korean Massage Parlors, but Koreatown, Los Angeles and Koreatown, New York have multiple massage parlors where “happy” endings are serviced at an extra cost. A lot of these registered businesses have salient characteristics that are only recognized by observant Koreans who are privy to this underground sex industry. Others may simply see a sign for a massage parlor and bypass it without a second thought.

Working with government legislators to shut them down legally is futile when in some areas cops are constantly being paid off to stay hushed, law enforcement are oblivious, or they refuse to acknowledge the enormity of what is happening. There are just way too many supporters, way too many people who want to satisfy their curiosities, and way too many worker bees who need some type of release. There are even some prostitutes who fight against the anti-prostitution law. These women believe that because the sex is occurring between two consenting individuals in exchange for money, it is no one else’s business nor it is harming anyone. However, it is not their fault that they do not know they are harming themselves for the long haul and that society is being harmed as a result. They are so broken and lost without Christ that they believe this is their only option.

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It is up to the Church to spread the Gospel and inform everyone properly of what is light and what is dark. It is up to followers of Christ to serve the community by heeding God’s commands. Christians need to take leadership roles of cities and countries, and we need to rise up and set a good example. We must do God’s work here on Earth because that is our purpose–to serve Him.

If you are a worker wanting to get out of this industry, a person contemplating on working in a massage parlor, an ex-worker trying to avoid stigmatization and attacks or dealing with guilt and shame, a trafficker selling girls into the industry, a massage parlor owner, a taxi driver driving the girls and johns to and fro, or anyone who is associated or a supporter of the industry, please contact us. There are many people who would like to help you, pray with you, and love you in the name of Christ.