‘Coffee Ladies’ Turn Hiking Trails into Red Light District

Elderly hikers are the latest target for prostitutes in South Korea, according to a new report from MBN. Older women are seeking out men who frequent mountain hiking trails and offering them a euphemistic “cup of coffee”, leading to the nickname “coffee ladies”. While hiking has long been associated with adultery between hiking couples, Koreans were taken aback and pitied the older women for trying to make money through prostitution. Online comment focused on the lack of a social safety net for senior citizens in poverty.

Article from MBN:

‘Coffee ladies’ go to the mountains..a new wave of prostitution

You might have already heard of the ‘Bacchus Ladies’ who offer bottles of Bacchus to older men in places like Tapgol Park and then solicit them for prostitution.

Now, a similar phenomenon is appearing on mountain trails, as ‘Coffee Ladies’ sell coffee to hikers and solicit them for prostitution.

Kim Keun Hee reports on location at one of the hiking spots frequented by such women.

This is Gwanaksan, a busy location for hiking in the middle of Seoul.

One woman in her sixties wearing a red hat mingles with the crowd of hikers and looks around carefully.

korea-prostitution-coffee-ladies-gwanak2

A few minutes later, the woman meets a man and they disappear together.

A hiker described the situation: “What’s that? They just ‘enjoy’ each other for a little while and then leave. They have a drink and leave. How old are the women? must be 60 or 70.”

The women, who have earned the nickname ‘coffee ladies’, typically look for older hikers who have come to the mountain alone. They offer the men a cup of coffee and then suggest prostitution.

In this way, prostitution is being carried out in the open, with little attempt to disguise what is going on.

Audio from an interaction between one of the women and an older man:
Woman: “How about we go somewhere and have a glass of beer or something. Just have a good time talking together over a drink. Maybe go to a motel.”
Man: “And do what there?”
Woman: “What do you expect me to say. We could touch each other.”

Sex, sold for ₩20-30,000.

Another hiker described what was going on: “They have a drink and then go off to sleep somewhere. They see the hikers and assume that they must be pretty well off and so think they can make some money…”

It seems that most of the women are senior citizens who have been hit hard by the economic downturn and have turned to this line of work in order to make a living.

“What with all of the young women coming over from China to work these days, the restaurants don’t hire older women.”

The local government and the police sometimes crackdown in the area but there is no serious effort to eliminate prostitution.

As illegal prostitution for older hikers continues to grow, the mountains are turning into prime locations for solicitation and voices of concern have emerged.

Comments from Chosun Ilbo:

798****:

A woman in her sixties who is selling coffee and soliciting men for prostitution won’t be able to find a job working at some company. Prostitution for them is a last resort, a way to survive. Arresting and punishing them won’t make society any better. These are symptoms of a larger problem that should be solved with expanded welfare supports for senior citizens.

jhs6****:

Catch gangsters and spies. Leave these people alone. It is a necessary evil in this world.

lsw****

What a pitiful life, to survive by selling your body…In their teens, they just start to find out what they are capable of!…twenties, they start working at room salons, karaoke bars, or after hours massage parlors!…thirties they head to work as helpers in noraebang…forties to fifties, they work at ticket tea rooms in the countryside or inns…then in their fifties and sixties it’s work as a coffee lady!…it’s basic supply and demand.

Korea-prostitution-coffee-ladies-gwanak

bek****:

let them ‘enjoy’ and leave them alone! You might as well try to stop them by castration!

l****:

just leave them alone…

palk****:

It looks like nothing is sacred anymore. As time goes on and the elderly population increases, there will have to be a policy to deal with it. Rather than just increasing welfare benefits, we need a plan to create jobs for these people.

tick****:

Well, it’s good that people are still active in the twilight of their years, does the government really have to interfere with this. Call the Minister of Gender Equality and Families.

kj****:

so sad…

ck****:

Damn! the world is crazy these days~

l****:

What do you mean, ‘crackdown’? Give them something to live on~! a crackdown on prostitution?? how about the high class room salons or massage parlors? are you kidding? stop with this double standard

sang****:

If they make ₩20,000 each time, two times means they can buy a sack of barley. It is amazing to see how some people still work so hard to pay off their family’s debt, even as they become older. The old women of Korea, who worked so hard to help our nation recover throughout history, are still trying to earn money. You have the utmost respect of your country.

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  • commander

    Prostitution for male mountain climbers reveals the complexity of problems facing South Korea.

    (1) Few jobs available for the elderly in a country that finds young job seekers feel hard it to land a job amid a protracted economic slowdown.

    (2) Growing aging population, the considerable number of which lives in poverty with no eligiblity for welfare benefits or

    (3) Sex trade among seniors, a shocking incident that could further undermine the Confucious tradition of the respect for elderly people.

    (4) Deteriorating public perception of mountaineering which is increasingly associated by extramarital affairs among climbers in the public view.

    (5) a contradiction in public responses, as showned in Netizen’ comment, that senior-targeting prostitution at mountain trails may need acqueiscence, instead of the application anti-prositution law, compared with calls for draconian punishment of sexual crimes that has been burgeoning in recent years.

  • Jang

    I’m going hiking!

    • Hardy Har

      So you want to buy sex from old ladies? eww..

    • Hyun Bin Fan

      Me too!! Booking my tickets now for Seoul.

  • Brett

    Heh, you learn something new everyday

    • Scream_Writer

      Yes, it’s so true: every single day, whether you want to or not.

    • Kate

      Yeah but it doesn’t surprise me at all. I’d never lived anywhere where sex is so easy to get then Korea. When I was there, I can’t tell you how many married men made me offers. I had a lot of men hit on me and most were married.

      I also saw that many, many elderly were very poor and didn’t have much help. I can see this easily being a reality. Korea should have a safety net for it’s elderly and orphans and single mothers.

      • dk2020

        sex is pretty easy to buy anywhere in the world .. as for those husbands hitting on you, pretty white girls are still rare in korea and usually mistaken for russian prostitutes.. korean wives need to report their husbands as adultrery is against the law ..

      • John Snow

        If I saw you in real life. Going by your display picture. I would try to start a conversation with you. Well at least take a double look.

      • Hana Yoo

        They all probably thought you were a Russian prostitute.

  • hang

    I guess if you’re too short-sighted to save for retirement, being an elderly prostitute is one of your options.

    • Scream_Writer

      I’m just planning to commit suicide.

    • Mighty曹

      You should be yourself.

  • Paul M

    So that’s why hiking is so popular, and here’s me thinking they were just enjoying the fresh air and beautiful scenery.

    Oh well, good luck to them. As along as they go about it discreetly and are not ‘in your face’ about it.

    • Kate

      Hiking is very popular in Korea……

      • Mighty曹

        It’s going to be even more popular now.

      • Paul M

        Erm, yes I know…

  • dk2020

    Ewwwww no thanks .. I wonder if them ahjummas are just as pushy as the bible thumpers at the gaju market parking lots .. they seriously gotta find a new hustle ..

    • YourSupremeCommander

      Open your fly, sit down, close your eyes and enjoy. You wont be able to tell the difference between a 60 year old or 20 year old pair of lips.

      • Yaminah Jamison

        The 60+-year old may even be better, especially if they have no teeth~ But I think if they made some moaning noises it might be a slight turn off

  • linette lee

    Wow… even hiking they get prostitution service. For real? Unbelievable. So pervert. Who would think about something like that?

    • lonetrey / Dan

      Desperate older women with no source of income, it would seem :(

      • linette lee

        People with no income are all desperate, but they shouldn’t do prostitution, murder, or stealing. Prostitution can spread disease too. The risk is always there. Any country have legalized prostitution is a fool.

        • Brett

          Prostitution is legal in Las Vegas, Nevada USA.

          • linette lee

            That is why it’s called the sin city. Drugs and prostitution.

          • dwallace37

            Prostitution is *not* legal in Las Vegas, or anywhere in Clark County. Drugs are not legal, either.

          • dk2020

            It’s hilarious when japanese or chinese try to say prostitution is only bad in korea when it’s just as prevalent in their countries .. where the hell did geishas and concubines come from?

          • linette lee

            I criticize them too in CS and JC. That’s why they call them CSmack, JC, and KB.

            Also concubine are more like a mistress of a man. Not working in the prostitution service.

          • hala

            Prostitution is legal in your home town of Hong Kong. In fact I’d say HK is about the easiest place to get laid that i’ve ever been to. How about you worry about that first.

          • linette lee

            uh…I doubt you even know where’s Hong kong or been to hong kong, or ever met a hong kong person in real life. Nice try. You are really ignorant.

            No such thing as legal prostitute establishment or brothel in Hong kong. It’s illegal and Hk police occasionally raid any places that’s suspicious of being a brothel.

            I am sure they have plenty underground hooker services like you contact someone to set it up or something,but if caught they go to jail.

          • hala

            Are you kidding? If you really are from Hong Kong then you need to learn about your place’s laws.

            Start here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution_in_Hong_Kong

            Honestly, you don’t know about 141 girls? I don’t believe it.
            The place is full of them.

          • yeah

            at least geisha’s had style and talent

          • holdingrabbits

            that’s not really accurate.

          • zappa frank

            even in germany, holand and many others UE countries is legal.. still i don’t see this places as degraded.

        • lonetrey / Dan

          They’re not justified if they’re spreading disease, but I suppose I’m ok if they use protection. But chances are, if they’re poor they can’t afford protection.

          How should these older women get food then? I honestly can’t think of a solution for them :(

          • linette lee

            Oh please lonetrey, no one died of starvation in countries like japan or korea or usa. No excuses for that. I bet the men using prostitutes are husbands too. They are stupid men.

          • lonetrey / Dan

            Very true, if there were no demand there I don’t think the development of “coffee ladies” would’ve ever been started

          • harvz

            Go slither back to the depths of the Kowloon Walled City sewage runoff that your parents conceived you in.

          • Scream_Writer

            That’s got to be the most specific, dulcet insult I’ve heard all week!

          • linette lee

            and you too.

            You dumba55.

          • Scream_Writer

            I think you should consult with harvz when crafting your next insult.

          • linette lee
          • Scream_Writer

            If I were in junior high school I’d feel really bad about myself right now.

          • linette lee

            You want me to give you something hardcore? You can handle it? I don’t want to make you cry like a _________. Feel free to fill in the blank yourself.

          • Scream_Writer

            Hmmm, let me think for a sec. Let’s go with “cunt.”

            That works on many levels.

          • linette lee

            You get one too.

            You Dumba55.

          • chucky3176

            There is what they call the national pension plan, where all income earners must pay 4.5% of their income on each pay date. The problem is, the plan is too new. They came to being in 1988 – not enough time for these old people to pay into the system, therefore entitled to enough benefits to survive on. But there are other welfare schemes that help the elderly, like the free government subsidies in housing and transportation, and the old age pension handouts. But I guess they are still not enough.

            Then why waste money on free meals for school kids, and hundreds of fragmented multicultural programs to help immigrants that are just wasteful? Use all that money that goes to waste, to help the old people instead.

          • dk2020

            Korean families are really deteriorating from tradition .. my halmoni had 9 kids so I come from a big family, my mom had 4 .. I thought kids were the insurance policy out of poverty because they usually live with their children when they get older .. sad ..

          • linette lee

            I thought it’s common that koreans the three generations all live together like grandparents, parents, and kids. Or at least very close by and close contact and take care of each other. That’s the common way with Chinese. Something went wrong?

          • dk2020

            the whole family can fit in coffin homes?

          • linette lee

            I forgot to bust your chop for calling me ugly in Japancrush.

            You dumbA55.

          • dk2020

            LOL who’s being a troll?

          • Kate

            I don’t think free meals for low income kids is a waste and Korea NEEDS multicultural programs, immigrants are growing fast in the country and they need support too. They still face a lot of racism and their children are outcasted (Mine wasn’t, but that was only because I’m western, white, and my husband was Korean but if I’d been vietnamese or something like most foreign wives are, it would of been a different story). Though at the same time, Korea needs to have more of a safety net for certain demographics in the population i.e elderly people, orphans, single mothers. It’s complicated…

          • dk2020

            But there are multicultural programs support and benefits for multicultural families in Korea. This is sparking resentment against them by Koreans that don’t get any. There is no doubt racism and xenophobia thats prevalent in Korean culture but you have to remember this is really the first generation of multicultural families living and growing up in Korean society and only have Korean citizenship. Most mixed kids I knew are military brats and didn’t go outside the base.. when these marginalized groups become empowered and have political clout is when they will be accepted in Korean society ..

            http://www.dw.de/homogeneous-south-korea-deals-with-growing-multiculturalism/a-15858944

          • Scream_Writer

            Dan, you are SO NICE!!!! :)

    • commander

      (1) Prostitution for a living, not for brand name bags or by human tracfficking–a phenomenon showing financual straits facing a growing aging demographics. The underlying focus of the posting is on the elderly in poverty and prostituion presumably from economic hardship.

      (2) Anti-prostitiion law was not introduced until 2004 in Korea. This means that based on your claim, a pre-2004 Korea is a fool.

      In addition, there are many countries where prostitution is not against the law, including Japan.

      (3) Although some countries have anti-prostituion law, that desnt mean that there is no secretive sex service. In South Korea, there are many new-breed sex service that are more clandestine to avoid police crackdown.

      (4) some claim that anti-prositution law produce significant side effects. Sex trade illegality put sex workers at risk for more human rights abuse as the relevant law in South Korea punish sex buyers and sellers. As a result, sex workers, all of whom want to quit their jobs but continue work for some reasons, are subject to exploitations like non payments by buyers and pimps.

      Another controversial side effect claim is the increased sexual crimes after the prostituiom ban law adoption in 2004. It is hard to say the there is clear casual rela (1) Prostitution for a living, not for brand name bags or by human tracfficking–a phenomenon showing financual straits facing a growing aging demographics. The underlying focus of the posting is on the elderly in poverty and prostituion presumably from economic hardship.

      (2) Anti-prostitiion law was not introduced until 2004 in Korea. This means that based on your claim, a pre-2004 Korea is a fool.

      In addition, there are many countries where prostitution is not against the law, including Japan.

      (3) Although some countries have anti-prostituion law, that desnt mean that there is no secretive sex service. In South Korea, there are many new-breed sex service that are more clandestine to avoid police crackdown.

      (4) some claim that anti-prositution law produce significant side effects. Sex trade illegality put sex workers at risk for more human rights abuse as the relevant law in South Korea punish sex buyers and sellers. As a result, sex workers, all of whom want to quit their jobs but continue work for some reasons, are subject to exploitations like non payments by buyers and pimps.

      Another controversial side effect claim is the increased sexual crimes after the prostituiom ban law adoption in 2004. It is hard to say the there is clear casual relationship between the law introduction and growing sexual offenses, but it is widely thought that the two has considerable correlations.

      tionship between the law introduction and growing sexual offenses, but it is widely thought that the two has considerable correlations.

      The last side effect is the diffculty of controling and managing sexually transmitted diseases after anti prostitution law codification as the sex industry permeat deep into the underground.

      (5) Many seniors reportedly die in poverty,loneliness and abandonment ffrom their grown up children in South Korea., indicating many loopholes in social safety net.

      • commander

        I have posted my comments as a guest using my smartphine (which explains many misspellings in omy commentaries).

        But I can’t make revisions to my comments when I upload them using a guest uploading, which is the case with the above comment where some editinv errors take place.
        Is there any ways to sovle this?

      • linette lee

        Prostitution for a living, not for brand name bags

        In many developed countries nobody die of starvation. Go to fast food chains and there are abundant foods and left over you can eat your heart out. Most customers would have no problem giving the poor their left over. You rather do prostitution then ask for leftover food? Isn’t that more embarrassing? What is worst? Sleeping with thousands of strangers risking your life getting STD HIV Aids etc? How much do they get anyway? I bet majority of the money goes to the pimp in most cases anyway or they have to split the money or something.
        Gov’t financial aid for the old and poor is something all countries should work on. Prostitution should be condemn and never be legalized.
        And please don’t tell me prostitution will go on regardless. It’s like me saying stealing will go on regardless so why not just make it legal. And the clients are worst offenders than the prostitutes. Don’t they have any shame? Don’t they know most likely more than half of these prostitutes do it against their will? Do not use prostitute service.
        Elderly die in loneliness and abandonment their children is at fault. That’s your family so take care of them.

      • John Snow

        Prostitution is Japan is illegal… although there are no penalties if caught…

  • Guest

    There’s no such thing as prostitution or homosexuality in Korea either. This is just another smear job by the Japanese to make South Korea look bad.

    • Embittered ESL Teacher

      But there is such a thing as an embittered ESL teacher spewing bitter nonsense.

      • Scream_Writer

        no, that’s a myth.

    • hey you

      you are a living proof that SOME koreans are delusional. blaming everything on the japanese and cant accept the fact that your beloved country has its flaws. no homosexuality? what about KPOP hahaha

      • Scream_Writer

        I think you must be from the Land of Unrecognized Sarcasm.

        It’s cool, though; I’m from the Land of Misfit Toys. I live next door to that doll that has nothing seemingly wrong with her, except for chronic asthma and a deep-rooted hatred of the Jews.

        • hey you

          so?

          • Scream_Writer

            No, you make an excellent point.

      • bs

        what are you
        7years old?

        • hey you

          excuse me! 7 and a half! haha

  • dk2020

    Not all good in the US either .. interesting documentary
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNS_dambyjc

  • Mighty曹

    So sad that women in their age have resorted to this to earn extra income to survive. I wonder if they are former prostitutes who have come out of ‘retirement’? And why isn’t the government doing enough for the seniors’ welfare?

  • Kassandra

    So sad, i don’t judge them, i don’t know what I would do in their place, desperation can make you do things that you never thought possible

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