South Korea takes on prostitution

The country’s sex workers generate 1.6 per cent of total GDP

South Korea takes on prostitution

In 2004, the South Korean government enacted new laws designed to crack down on the country’s sex trade, which by some estimates accounted for a whopping 4.1 per cent of GDP. To some extent, those regulations were successful: according to the Korean Women’s Development Institute, a think tank dedicated to researching women’s issues in South Korea, the sex trade now generates approximately 1.6 per cent of GDP, or about $14 billion annually (by comparison, South Korea’s agriculture industry accounts for roughly three per cent of GDP).

But Sealing Cheng, an anthropologist at Wellesley College in Massachusetts who specializes in sexuality, prostitution and human rights in South Korea, argues the government’s efforts don’t always work as intended. While the sex trade laws target pimps and brothel owners, and offer financial and vocational assistance for victims of prostitution, they also establish fines and jail terms for the approximately 269,000 sex workers in the country. “It makes life difficult for a lot of women who, for some reason, remain in the trade. If there isn’t adequate assistance for them, they won’t leave.”

The crackdown is also forcing prostitution further underground. When illicit massage parlours are raided, they often reopen as “hostess bars,” where women are paid for their company but don’t specifically have to sleep with clients, although they often do. “They’re moving too quickly for the government to shut them down,” says Whasoon Byun, a researcher with the Korean Women’s Development Institute.

Cheng says the sex trade remains such a big problem largely because the government incorrectly believes it can stop prostitution by force, and that little will change until women are no longer treated as second-class citizens. “Even with a university degree it’s very hard [for women] to find a job.”




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South Korea takes on prostitution

  1. Perhaps it should be legalized marketed, cleaned up, & taxed – not like they don't need the money. And the people involved in selling their bodies would be protected.

  2. "little will change until women are no longer treated as second-class citizens. “Even with a university degree it's very hard [for women] to find a job.”"

    Just plain awful journalism. Jeepers Tom, if some ultrafeminist professor tells you that Martians are responsible for gender disparity in South Korea are you gonna run that verbatim too?

    Do you have any evidence backing up your claim that South Korean women with university degrees have difficulty finding jobs, and that they are second class citizens? What's their incarceration rate? Are there any countries where Cheng believes women *aren't* second class citizens?

    Sheethead – if we didn't allow women to vote prostitution would be legal. Legalizing it is supported by 60% of men and 40% of women in Canada. It should be noted that women in Canada are overwhelmingly leftist. Protection? The whores already are protected – by organized crime and a police/legal system that overwhelmingly favours women. It's the clients who need protection, not the whores, who tend to be among the lowest forms of humanity on the planet. There's a reason why whores have a bad reputation, and have since the dawn of time: they earned it.

    So we see yet another instance of how women – and by inference, leftists – are authoritarian, unfun, puritan prudes who seek to impose their morality on the rest of the population.

    • You should fly an airplane into an IRS building over it, nutjob!

    • Yeah right. First a horny guy goes to a hooker, pays for it, later she is low creature :) Nice logic. She should have done it for free, then she is an honorable lady. Sorry dude, this is what is unfair. All these men hunting to get laid low cost, almost free, with least effort and no cimmitment with all these naive women who think they are somebody’s “girlfriends”. Hooker is an honest and honorable lady if compared, you want something, pay for it.

  3. Question is why in South Korea is so huge percentage of GDP ? From which reason it result ? Maybe is it true that women hasn't chance to live there on better way ? Maybe a sex trade is a last chance to earn money for them. I don't know. I don't believe that men in SK need more sex than men in others places/countries. An article was good opinions about positions women in SK. Now, is better ought to goverment determines to be able in women's issue ?

  4. Question is why in South Korea is so huge percentage of GDP ? From which reason it result ? Maybe is it true that women hasn't chance to live there on better way ? Maybe a sex trade is a last chance to earn money for them. I don't know. I don't believe that men in SK need more sex than men in others places/countries. An article was good opinions about positions women in SK. Now, is better ought to goverment determines to be able in women's issue ?

  5. South Korea is still a third world country, but the Canadian gov't allows these people to enter the country without a visa, so now we have tons of Korean hookers applying their trade in Canadian cities.

  6. Korea is not a third world country and it's infrastructure development exceeded USA for instance.
    They don't need VISA's as it is 15th economy in the world with slight need for job migration, and it is rather on the contrary if ever – see immigration of Thai, Cambodians, Uzbekhs, Kazakhs etc. to Seoul and it's rising population from other Asian states.

    In Korea most of guys older than 40 still were subject to arranged marriages and in case they cannot find deeper feelings to women who born their children, they go to such hostess bars.

    This is the major reason of this situation.

  7. Korea is still a 3rd world country??hahahaha
    Jeff is a another common example of the ignorant westerner..

    • Maybe South Korea is a developing country, but the attitude and mentality of it’s people is still third-world like or even primitive.

  8. Women are treated as second-class citizens. :/

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