Koreans Turn to Cellphones to Find Sex

Joanne Cachapero
SEOUL —After tightening restrictions on brothels in 2004, Korean National Assembly’s health and welfare committee said that more people are accessing prostitution online and via mobile phone content operators.

Prostitution is illegal in Korea and the 2004 restrictions imposed tougher punishments for sex-trafficking crimes.

The Korean Internet Safety Commission said it received reports that, since June, there are 11,724 websites and mobile phone operators involved in sex trafficking, which is quadruple the amount reported in 2005.

Brothel restrictions cut the number of red light district businesses by 42 percent, according to National Police Agency records. In addition to the online and mobile access, other businesses that may indirectly facilitate sex trafficking have increased by 26 percent, including karaoke bars, massage parlors and barbershops, according to agency records.

According to officials, online websites advertising sex often post pictures and prices.

“In particular, female university students are looking for easy, convenient part-time jobs through these sites, but the oversight over these sites has been insufficient,” officials said.