Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"In Mongolia, sex tourism by S. Korean males leads to anti-Korean sentiment."

An article in today's Hankyoreh looks at the popularity of sex tourism to Mongolia among South Korean men. A couple of excerpts:
The South Korean embassy in Mongolia said, “Sex tourism is undermining the image of South Korea and its people.” At the end of 2007, there were some 3,000 South Korean nationals in Mongolia. Last year, the number of South Korean tourists to Mongolia stood at some 40,000 people.

. . .
A 42-year-old local tour guide, who is only identified as Temuchin, said, “Anti-Korean sentiment is high because (Korean men) buy sex from (local) women.”

. . .
Last year, South Korea’s Ministry of Gender Equality and Family revised a passport law and the government is now allowed to ban

people who have been arrested for buying sex from being issued new passports or passport renewals. However, the effect of the ban has so far been negligible. Bae Lim Sook-il, the head of the Incheon Women’s Hotline, said, “Prostitution (in South Korea) isn’t even being punished properly. So the government can’t punish people for soliciting prostitution in foreign countries.”

Lee Na-young, a sociology professor at ChungAng University, said, “The mindset and culture of Korean males, which view females as objects of entertainment, needs to be fundamentally changed.”

The thriving sex industry in Korea is often hastily explained away as a by-product of Japanese or American occupation, however South Korea's record of human trafficking and sex tourism calls into question those convenient oversimplifications. The 2008 "Trafficking in Human Persons Report," published by the US Department of State, says of South Korea, in part:
The Republic of Korea (R.O.K.) is primarily a source for the trafficking of women and girls within the country and to the United States (often through Canada and Mexico), Japan, Hong Kong, Guam, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Western Europe for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Women from Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, the People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.), North Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, and other Southeast Asian countries are recruited to work in South Korea, and a significant number of these women are trafficked for sexual exploitation and domestic servitude. An increasing challenge for the ROK is the number of women from less developed Asian countries who are recruited for marriage to Korean men through international marriage brokers; a significant number are misled about living conditions, financial status, and expectations of their Korean husbands. Some, upon arrival in South Korea, are subjected to conditions of sexual exploitation, debt bondage, and involuntary servitude. Some employers continued to withhold the passports of foreign workers, a practice that can be used as a means to coerce forced labor. South Korean men continue to be a significant source of demand for child sex tourism in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.

And also mentions:
A growing number of R.O.K. men continue to travel to the P.R.C., the Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand, and elsewhere in Southeast Asia for child sex tourism.

That same report says of Mongolia, on page 50 of this .pdf file:
Some Mongolian women who enter into marriages with foreign husbands—mainly South Koreans—were subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude after moving to their husbands’ homeland. Mongolia continues to face the problem of children trafficked internally for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation, reportedly organized by criminal networks. There have been several reports of Mongolian girls and women being kidnapped and forced to work in the country’s commercial sex trade. Some travel agents and tour guides who took part in an anti-trafficking workshop expressed concern that child sex tourism might be increasing; they noted that South Korean sex tourists were arriving in greater numbers and frequenting nightspots where girls and women were in prostitution.

That Hankyoreh article called to mind something I had seen elsewhere a few years ago regarding Korean sex tourists in Mongolia. The Marmot's Hole has the story from the one and only "PD Diary"---late of Mad Bull Shit infamy---of the "Ugly Korean" in Mongolia and how some negative exports were damaging the goodwill created via the "Korean Wave." The introduction to his lengthy post from 2005:
The MBC current events program PD Sucheop ran on Tuesday an episode on the “two faces of the Korean Wave in Mongolia,” namely, how the “ugly Korean” was harming what had been Korea’s improving image in the country as a result of the growing popularity of Korean pop culture, i.e., the Korean Wave. In particular, organized crime, sex tourism, confidence scams and poor treatment of Mongolian workers in Korea were giving Korea an undeserved black eye in a country where Korea’s cultural influence was being most keenly felt. What’s worse, the resulting anti-Korean backlash has been causing problems for the local Korean expat community, most of whom are probably hardworking individuals providing services of benefit to both Korea and Mongolia, while the Korean embassy in UB pretty much sits on its ass and does nothing other than try as hard as it can to pretend the local Korean expat community doesn’t exist.

Some of the photographs he mentioned were reposted here, and are not safe for work. He mentions them in passing, although I don't recall the story behind them.

Off topic, but one of the more darkly humorous articles to come out associated with Korea's sex industry was the news that the South Korean Ministry of Gender Equality was offering cash prizes to men who abstained from hookers on New Years' Eve.
The Ministry for Gender Equality is offering cash to companies whose male employees pledge not to pay for sex after office parties.

Men are being urged to register on the ministry's website. The companies with most pledges will receive a reward.


Roboseyo said...

See, in the world of speedy international communication, I think countries will, increasingly, get exactly the reputation they deserve. If German tourists are assholes abroad, if German factory owners rip off migrant workers, it'll sting them in the ass on the soft power front. The world is a glass house now, and if the Hanky helps Koreans realize it with an article like this, well, good.

As for the rest of the Hanky's anti-government, anti-information agenda. . . well, they're in the glass house, too.

mergs said...

hi, i am living in mongolia. i saw the images from the link http://www.artface.co.kr/book/mong.htm. it breaks my heart to see so many beautiful young women from my home country horded in buses and being lured into this crap ass industry. couldn't these sick-minded sex tourists get sex on their own without paying for sex? it's perfectly fine for men to want to have sex and to go after that, but to take busloads of women at a time... that is just too much.

s koreans deserves ALL of the backlash it gets. they earned their reputations themselves.

selling one's own soul to the devil is one thing, but to sell other people's souls and lives is a whole new manner. mongolians need to understand and respond correspondingly themselves. i don't think we are being nearly as harsh on the s koreans and especially mongolians who take part and condone such activities.

...just disgusted...