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  • The Real Gangnam Style In South Korea

    Free trade does not include free trade with a country that is rife with human trafficking.

    Americans should take a hard look at trade with countries with weak laws against sex trafficking. South Korea is a good example of a nation that has a bad reputation.

    In 2012 South Korea’s Psy became an Internet sensation with the lyrically absurd, yet catchy song, Gangnam Style.  The song is about the flamboyant lifestyle and party atmosphere of the Gangnam neighborhood of Seoul, South Korea.  While clearly an ode to the lighter side of one of the city’s larger party districts, there is a much darker side to South Korea’s largest city that is an international embarrassment: An extremely active sex trade.

    According to an article that appeared in the International Business Times (IBT) in April of 2013:

     Despite its illegality, prostitution and the sex trade is so huge that the government once admitted it accounts for as much as 4 percent of South Korea’s annual gross domestic product — about the size of the fishing and agriculture industries combined.

    Four percent is huge. The 4% GDP figure is shocking yet the numbers are terrible. Korean women involved in the sex trade between the ages of 15 and 29 approaches 20%:

    The South Korean government’s Ministry for Gender Equality estimates that about 500,000 women work in the national sex industry, though, according to the Korean Feminist Association, the actual number may exceed 1 million. If that estimate is closer to the truth, it would mean that 1 out of every 25 women in the country is selling her body for sex — despite the passage of tough anti-sex-trafficking legislation in recent years. (For women between the ages of 15 and 29, up to one-fifth have worked in the sex industry at one time or another, according to estimates.)”

    Those are some staggering and sobering numbers.  Think of it this way from a U.S. perspective where the average high school classroom size in the state of California is 24.9 pupils per teacher (according to the National Education Association).  That would make one or more of each student in each classroom involved in sex-for-sale business if South Korea’s was extrapolated across the U.S.

    Truly terrible.

    In the 2014 U.S. State Department Trafficking In Persons Report, South Korea was ranked as a Tier 1 country (Tier 3 is the worst).  That ranking is misleading because it doesn’t mean trafficking isn’t an issue, it simply reflects that South Korea has passed the minimum requirements to show it is fighting it.  In fact, most public reporting regarding human/sex trafficking show the industry is “thriving.”    The 2014 TIP Report made some interesting observations that support that thesis:

    • Child Sex Tourism — Child sex tourism remains a serious problem.  There are actually travel agencies that arrange these trips under the guise of golf or business trips.   Interestingly, the ROK government has not prosecuted a single Korean sex tourist in the last 7-years, which seems almost illogical.
    • Runaways Turn To Prostitution — Children are increasingly vulnerable to commercial sex exploitation through online recruitment.
    • Sex Trafficking — Korean women are being forced into prostitution around the world (U.S., Hong Kong, Dubai, Australia, Canada, etc).  Some 2,500 women alone are presumed to be working “juicy bars” or brothels servicing U.S. military personnel.

    South Korea may be a rising regional power and its elected leaders may like to point fingers and project the air of modernism to the international community, but its social fabric remains draconian.

    Wide spread and nearly unchecked human sex trafficking including minors is a black spot on a country that does does not live up to clean perception of most Americans.


    Cloakroom Confidential

    Cloakroom Confidential

    Cloakroom Confidential was a longtime Capitol Hill staffer and insider who has contacts in the House and Senate at the highest levels.

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