Some men and women from China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), the Philippines, Mongolia, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Colombia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, Timor-Leste, and Uzbekistan are subjected to forced labor in South Korea; some women from these countries are subjected to forced prostitution.
The Republic of Korea (ROK or South Korea) is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. South Korean women are subjected to forced prostitution in Korea and abroad, including in the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, Dubai, Taiwan, and Macau.
Some women enter destination countries on tourist, work, or student visas, and are subsequently forced into prostitution in massage parlors, room salons, bars, restaurants, or through internet-advertised escort services.
Many victims are coerced into prostitution by loan sharks, to whom the victims owe debts, and entertainment establishment owners, who work with loan sharks. Traffickers threaten victims with deportation, harm to family members, or seizure of passports
South Korean children are increasingly vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation through online recruitment. Some 200,000 South Korean girls run away from home annually; in need of money for living expenses and shelter, some are subjected to prostitution. Family members or Korean criminal networks recruit children from Southeast Asian countries with false promises of employment and subsequently force them into prostitution in South Korea.
South Korean men engage in child sex tourism in Vietnam, Cambodia, and the Philippines. Some Korean fishing crew members engage in commercial sex with children in Kiribati.
NGOs and media alleged officials from the Korean Media Rating Board (KMRB), part of the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, granted women E-6 entertainment visas, knowing the women were at risk of being sexually exploited, forced into prostitution, and held under debt bondage
More than 2,500 foreign women face debt bondage in “juicy bars” near U.S. military bases. Some women from Mongolia, Laos, and Nepal are recruited for marriage to South Korean men through international marriage brokers and are subjected to forced prostitution or forced labor subsequent to their arrival.
An NGO reported that the national government maintains a list of massage parlors that subject blind masseuses to forced prostitution, and allegedly enjoy official sanction or protection. Another NGO reported the municipal, provincial, and national governments owned land in the red light district of Yongjugol, Gyeonggi Province. Women in the red light districts are forced into prostitution through debt bondage and confinement, and they reported that police officers do not enforce anti-trafficking laws, but instead frequent brothels themselves.
South Korean men remain a source of demand for child sex tourism in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, traveling primarily on travel-agency-organized golf group tours or business trips.
However, the government has not prosecuted or convicted any Korean sex tourists during the past seven years.
The ROK is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.
Recommendations for the Republic of Korea:
Become a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.
US Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report, p. 232