The Debate on Prostitutes in Korea and Abroad

The courts are gearing up for a look at the Korean prostitution law. It's a $13 billion a year industry and needs to be addressed.

The courts are gearing up for a look at Korea’s 2004 Special Law on Prostitution. It’s a $13 billion a year industry and needs to be addressed. (photo)


As Robert Koehler over at the Marmots Hole posted earlier this week, the Korean courts will later this year be examining the constitutionality of the 2004 Special Law on Prostitution.

It will be of great interest to see how the Special Law plays out in the courts and in the media. It’s a $13 billion a year reality comprising 1.6% of GDP and it’s not going anywhere.

The Korea Times is perhaps staking out their position on the issue in a very short piece called “Confessions of a Prostitute.” One of the two woman interviewed describes it as unfair how the girls and the Johns are treated if caught together by the police.

“Men who buy sex get away with a few hours of lectures while we have to swallow condoms when the police arrive on the scene. The special law on sex trade pushes us into corners.”

It’s either that or hide the condoms in their “virgina” says the Times.

Korean Prostitutes Abroad

Perhaps when Korean legislators were passing the Special Law on Prostitution they didn’t factor in it driving Korean working girls to seek employment abroad.

A 2010 report by Korea’s Ministry of Gender Equality estimates the number of Korean prostitutes working in other countries at a staggering 100,000, with 50,000 in Japan alone. It also says that Korea exports the largest number of prostitutes to the United States, followed by Thailand, Peru and Mexico.

There are now major drives in Australia and America to deal with substantial increases in Korean prostitution rings in both those countries. In Australia Koreans make up 17% of all prostitutes working there.

An article in the Tokyo Reporter last year says that Korean working girls are also driving up prices in Japan (a $24 billion a year industry) with increased competition.

The Korean pros are apparently not winning any friends in the Chinese working girl community in Japan either.

They’re quite pretty, and that makes them more popular than Chinese, who aren’t in the custom of doing face lifts yet. In shops where both nationalities are working, you can see the Korean and Chinese gals snarling at each other like alley cats.

What’s Next in Korea?

Though we’ll have to wait and see, the courts in Korea might very well legalize prostitution. Many in the Korean law enforcement establishment are pushing for it –though not all for the reasons you might imagine.

There is the odd publicly stated concern for the disabled, the illegal immigrants and widowers expressed by Kim Kang-ja, a professor and a former senior police officer.

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.

Now that’s spreading the love.

A Korean prostitute in one of Korea's many

A Korean prostitute in one of Korea’s many “pink light” districts. (photo)


Re: The Debate on Prostitutes in Korea and Abroad

wow, interesting. i didn't know that Korea exports the largest number of prostitutes to the United States.  That's insane.  I believe it though.  There's blatant prostitution happening right outside the window of my apartment on Yeongdo Island.  There's even a mini-van, which I call "the prossie van" that picks up and drops off women in front of the love motel and Noraebangs across the alleyway every night of the week.  What's sad is that most of them appear to be your average housewife... possibly earning money to send their kid to hagwon?  hmmm