US County Cracks Down on Korean Brothels, Netizen Reactions

Korean prostitution coverage in the US

From Daum:

The ‘dens of prostitution and human trafficking’ run by Koreans must be driven out’

A small city in the United States has declared war against prostitution dens. Harris County in Texas has submitted a petition to revoke license for the three Korean-run massage parlors and one nightclub. South Korea finds itself unable to shake off the title as  ‘prostitute exporting country’ even after having surpassed the $20,000 (USD) GDP-per-capita mark.

According to the local newspaper Houston Chronicle, the petition read that ‘the proprietors use young women, mostly from Korea, offer services.’ The County officials urged the court to shut them down for one year.

It is unusual for a local county to specifically target the Korean establishments, but in light of the several hundreds of complaints lodged by the local residents, it has led to 57 investigations. The County Attorney for the Harris County reported that the Korean establishments had been under investigation since 2009,’ adding that among the women in ‘handcuffs and shackles’ shown on TV, 6 out of 7 were Korean.

These prostitution establishments are staple wherever there is a  sizable Korean population, whether in Los Angeles, Atlanta, New Jersey [USA], et cetera, causing headaches to respective their respective authorities. Same goes for Australia and Japan. The Washington Post ran a cover story last year that reported that ‘Korean massage parlors are a beachhead for prostitution.’

Learning to speak the local tongue

Detective Nam Jae-woo, the veteran investigator for overseas prostitution in Busan said that the reason for their working overseas is that these women ‘can make a great deal of money in a very short period of time.’ Detective Nam has been on working the case since 2001 with the creation of the International Crimes Division.

According to the police investigation, those who work in Japan or Australia take on 5-6 customers, up to 10, with the fee of $200-$250 (USD) per session. Loan sharks or brokers, or establishment proprietors select them through the interview process. Among them, said the police, those with the good looks that can command up to $400 (USD) per session are high in numbers.

The majority of the women make up to $40,000 to $50,000 (USD) per each outing that lasts around two months and taking a break for a few months before going abroad again. Their grasp of the local language is minimal, often no more than ‘[N]ice to meet you,’ ‘[H]ow do you like it?’ ‘[H]ow long do you want it?’

Overseas prostitution has persisted since the 1990s in Japan and elsewhere. For instance, in 1995 when the Great Hanshin earthquake took place, Korean women returned home en masse. Those who stayed behind made a handsome profit. The rumor of the shortage of Korean prostitutes ‘created a frenzy in the market,’ or so it was widely reported.

Detective Nam said that since the early 2000s, the focus of crackdown was on passport forgery but not on overseas prostitution itself, which may have helped grow the volume of the number of overseas prostitutes.

A woman in her mid-30s ended her own life last year in Busan due to the massive debts she held. From the police investigation it emerged that she went 11 times to Japan for prostitution. Police officials pointed out the linkage between the overseas prostitution with the loan sharks.

The manner in which the loan sharks send out women overseas is similar to the labor market. According to the police, four loan sharks fought over who gets to send over a woman who owed all four of them debts. The woman in question was eventually shipped out by one of the loan sharks to Japan, then returned to Korea but is currently back out to Japan again.

According to the investigators, the women in engaged in this business initially borrow $2,000 to $5,000 (USD) for lodging but in 2-3 years this would inflate to $20,000 to $30,000 (USD). The large number of them fall into the vicious cycle as a result of spiraling debt who are forced to go abroad for prostitution.

Comments from Daum:


Funny Americans…….. These joints in America – are they likely to be frequented by Americans or Koreans?


Please give them a life sentence so that they may finish off their career there. Those whores will cry victim and then suck in innocent Korean men into marriage. Unsuspecting men are not your prey.


What about the American GI rapists and attackers – can’t they deal with them first before talking about this?


This is all because of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family!!!


Just let them do their thing in Korea, this is a national embarrassment.


Don’t meet women who speak English well….. 95%…… of them sucked off stinky foreigners… Unless they have a doctorate… The women who studied abroad really need be approached with caution… Also bear in mind that they will cheat on you 100%.


We want white-girl only red-light districts too. Western European women won’t come here so only Eastern European women please… Korean men want to do it with other races as well… Don’t give special treatment to Aussies, Japanese and Americans only. We need to legalize them as a legitimate and upstanding entertainment… No one was born without ‘that activity’ if you know what I mean….


Not a single word wrong in ancient wisdom – [as the saying goes] women and dried cod need beating once every 3 day. Women and bowls will get smashed if put outside.


Prostitution is everywhere, in every country. But in South Korea there are simply too many of them. Why is that? I think it has to do with social inequality.


So so SO embarrassing…. When I went to Japan, I was so embarrassed by those Koreans….


Japan seems cock-sure about two things regarding South Korea… One is the sovereign ownership of Dokdo island (using documents in their favor); the second is that the comfort women volunteered..(using the Korean whores who tar our nation in Japan as evidence). The ones whoring in Japan are the true traitors.


Prostitution nation… This is really something… And to complain to Japan about the comfort women issue;;; This is a real ‘kimchi issue’.


1 in 7 Korean women worked in the entertainment industry… what, you did it for college tuition? Of all the jobs there are out there? Men work in construction sites, don’t you know?


Korean women, really.. They really are useless.

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  • k

    I just moved to a small Georgia town and there’s a Korean prostitution house here in small town america because of the korean factories here. Pretty shocked to see it in a small, mostly white and black area and for koreans only, must be some high paying korean men going to keep them in business. And doesn’t korea have white russian prostitute places?

    • Justin_C

      yeah but only in korea i think for white russian girls…. having a brothel staffed by white american girls for korean clientele only may invite some unwanted attention from local law enforcement agency AND not-so-racially-friendly folks, esp. in down south….

      actually now that you mention it, it is quite disturbing to hear of it – it was more or less the same logic that led the jpn military to initially recruit japanese prostitutes during WWII. servicing male soldiers that are home-sick and preventing STD outbreaks was the initial rationale, but you know how things went from there….. in any case, women being commodified is a sad sad reality…. :(

  • cosmos

    what does this have to do with rape issues? But if you want to talk about rape then remember yesterday a Korean man was arrested for raping a 13 yo girl , and what about the Korean pop star who raped the 17 yo, and now two Korean men in the Philippines raped two Japanese girls,, plus prostituion is a victimless crime,, it is arranged between two consenting adults..

    • Dan

      Uhhhh yeah. Its only Koreans raping people in the world.

      • Matt

        Maybe you should try reading the article, Dan. cosmos was clearly referring to the silly comment that suggested that rape in Korea is intrinsically something done only by American GI’s.

        • Brett Sanbon

          Yes but that was only 1 comment and if you follow the source link, it was upvoted only 1 time. Not enough support on the Korean side for anyone to get their panties in a bunch…

          • Matt

            Is the mere existence of a comment not enough to warrant responding to it? By that standard, Dan shouldn’t have gotten his panties in a bunch over cosmos'(s?) comment…

          • Brett Sanbon

            Well, Dan mistook cosmos’ [no extra “s” I believe ;)] post to mean that only Korean men rape people, which was clearly not the case. Dan’s jump to that conclusion was unjustifiable.

            Either way, this story isn’t about rape.

            cosmos method of rebuttal was little more than a stab back at the original Korean netizen rather than any sort of argument against the original post.

    • Brett Sanbon

      Are you a GI?

  • Tickle Monster

    My step-brother took me to one of these on our way back from AC. He told me to tell them that I wasn’t Korean…I was like WTF? O_o But since I have Korean tattoos all over my body, we went to a Thai place instead. I was pretty wasted, but that’s no excuse. I am ashamed, but just a little. It was my first and my last.

  • Brett Sanbon

    I can see the “prostitute exporting” being a reality. Single women usually dont make anything close to th USD 20,000 per year. Couple that with poor family or whatever and you may end up with desparation.

    • Brett Sanbon

      I meant “in Korea they usually don’t make anything close to USD 20,000.”

    • Justin_C

      well, i think it’s fine if they make around $20k a year, which is enough to subsist on. the household debts (some blame conspicuous consumption as well) is one of the biggest reason right now pushing the people OUT. the attempt to revive the domestic economy through easing access to credit cards and pumping liquidity into banks for easy consumer loans == the road to current Spain…..


      the media coverage is a bit tortured and twisted about this issue because on the one hand, no-visa entry was done thanks to the FTA with the US, so it was a good thing. the downer is the massive trafficking/voluntary opportunity-seeking in the US, which they think is damaging the national reputation/prestige.

  • Chucky3176

    I don’t like the way Korean media is portraying this as if it’s particularly a Korean problem, when in fact, in overseas in the West, the Asian women advertising their services are all over the places. Just google any city in North America, and see how many Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Thai, Vietnamese genre themes come up. Blaming North America’s prostitution entirely on Koreans women, that really takes the cake. And when I checked that Texas news about those Korean women arrested, there included Chinese and Thai women as well – unlike the report that the girls were all Korean. I bet at least half of those Korean girls have forged South Korean passports, who are really Chinese nationals from Yanbian Korean autonomous region.

    • Brett Sanbon

      That last line of yours is a pretty big accusation.

      As for the rest of what you wrote, yea the media is blowing this up and netizens are taking it too seriously. Is there still a strike going on? I havent watched tv in over a month so I have no idea the quality of the programs right now.

      • Justin_C

        Well, chucky… from time to time i think you have to think outside the chinese box and think hard about the problems within korea itself. the consumer loans and easy credit which have created massive household debts (student loans, credit card, etc), pretty much on-par with Spain or Italy, are now being de-leveraged and desperate people are turning to loan sharks that can charge up to 80% a year (i think last time i checked). they know women are easier asset since they can be easily monetized (trafficked) in case of defaulting on loans. so that is one supply-side story, which i think is briefly alluded in the article.

        japanese nationals do go abroad but since YEN is worth so much more against every single currency in the world, why would you send your women outside when you can make more money domestically?

        the problem of women getting paid substantially less in korea makes them more susceptible to that industry for sure, which should be addressed in very near future.

        as for america, the problem with mexican female trafficking is much much bigger, dwarfing the ones from South Korea. that is one serious problem they have right now….

        • Yu Bumsuk

          My Korean co-worker had a Mexican one in Vagas and was a very satisfied customer. If Korea imported them to undercut its current prostitutes it might help reduce Korean prostitution a bit.

    • TheNoob

      I don’t know about the North Americans but its certainly the case here and in Japan. I live in Sydney, Australia and it is actually a know fact that a lot of the girls come to Aust to either work or be lured into working in brothels or massage parlours. Korean brothels and massage parlours have over taken the local brothels 5 to 1 offering cheaper price and girls that are not drug addicts. The only difference here and Japan is that brothels are legal. The Korean communities knows it and it was even covered in the Korean media. Your pretty ignorant, close minded and racist to think that the other half of the girls arrested are actually holding fake Korean passport and are not Korean.

      • Chucky3176

        This is what I mean. Korean media says Korean prostitutes outnumber native Australian prostitutes by 5 to 1, effectively laying all of Australia’s industry on Korean women. But where? In Korea Town? Based on what numbers, what source? How did they arrive at these numbers? The Korean media is saying the world is being flooded with millions of Korean women who are awashing off shore, and are driving all the prostitution industry all over the world. I even saw one report that said nine out of ten prostitutes in the United States, are Korean women. Just by being reasonable, I can confidently say this is just pure bull shit. Another report even claimed there are 1 million Koreans overseas engaged in prostitution. Again I ask, how do the Korean media come up with these such wild numbers? Do they go abroad and count up each prostitutes to come up with the numbers?

        • acorn

          Chucky raises a very valid point – yes they are more or less fabricated by the korean media which is pretty much an alarmist for this sort of stuff. but only if you could do the same for some of your comments too Chucky :D sometimes your very valid points are overshadowed by more sensationalist tone you take on…. sometimes

        • TheNoob

          Easy, open up your local newspaper and count out the Ad’s. Since Australia is legal, all brothels can advertise themselves. I’m not sure which part of the world your from but I can a sure you that Asian brothels out number local brothels 9 to 1, with at least 3 to 4 of those advertised as having a Japanese or Korean working in it. Having said that, I know what I suggest is a bit crude and that the local data in Aus does not reflect on what’s happening around the world but the trending of what’s happening here locally, I’m guessing is similar to what’s happening around the world. Also don’t forget that the Korean government has banned it citizens from seeking or selling sex overseas as well, I don’t think there is any other government in the world who criminalise what their citizens does overseas especially seeking sex. You know its a problem when the government steps in.

          • Chucky3176

            You’re right there isn’t any other government in the world who tries to criminalize what their citizens does regarding prostitution. But that hardly means Korea is the only country sending prostitutes overseas. This is the same country that does AIDS tests and does criminal checks on English teachers because the problem is so bad with English teachers spreading AIDS in Korea, and with their high criminal rampages. Did you guys see that expose on white guys in Korea, by MBC TV? The bad behaving done by foreign white guys in Korea are all over the TV and media. OK, I was just joking, and I was just being sarcastic there, but you get the ideal what I mean.

            I am not in Australia so I can’t open up the ads to count how many brothels allegedly sell Korean women. Even though I don’t live in Australia, a quick research tells me nine out of ten prostitution services are done illegally. Only 10% are legal places, the vast majority are illegals. According to Korean media claims, Korean prostitution in Australia is 1000 women. How terrible! The sky’s falling! Based on your government’s number of legal prostitution at 30,000 women, the numbers come nowhere near what you claim – that nine out of ten brothels are full of Korean women. In other words, stop blaming Australia’s prostitution problem on Korean women. Furthermore, if there weren’t Australian men buying sex, there wouldn’t be prostitutes.

          • TheNoob

            1000?? how did they come to that figure. Stop being naive, a lot of the brothels are cash based and nearly all of the workers come to AU on working holiday and tourist visa. Also I very doubt that they register themselves as “sex workers” when they are coming through customs. The fact is I know people that works in these industries and I have many Korean friends in AU that don’t as well, but when you have Korean people living in AU that has the same perspective then there must be some truth in there and not being overblown by the media.

          • TheNoob

            Also there are incidences that gets on the news on incidences that happen around Korean prostitutes:

            Here’s one where some guy was trying to drag out a korean prostitute from a brothel and gets himself killed:


            Another one that got dowsed with petrol and set alight after refusing a proposal from one of her customer:


            Heres another 2 facing deportation after breaching their work restriction.

            These are factual news about Korean sex workers. There isn’t as much news reported about any other sex workers from any other country.

          • Chucky3176

            The figures are from the Korea’s own foreign ministry estimates, widely reported in Australia, giving impressions the problem is out of hand. I have no ideal how they came up with those numbers, but the screaming daily headlines in Korea about Korean females going overseas sounds like it’s in the millions. The Korean government deemed it so serious about this ruining the international reputation of Korea, that it asked the Australian government to keep a special eye on all Korean women entering Australia.



    • anon

      stop speaking in imagination….
      actually,Japanese Prostitute has no benefit go to NA/australia.because strong yen and Japan does not have as severe penalties.
      South Korea should not be provided severe penalties against prostitutes…it’s meaningless.

  • lavista4u

    Do you know Prostitution is legal in Germany, One of the most developed countries on earth, The girls even pay taxes, are medically checked every month, no pimps involved, they are freelancers. All girls make a good living and send money back home.

    The one reason, there are not many Korean massage parlors in Germany, ‘cos sex is legal and these mafioso’s can’t make money there.

    If Korea legalizes prostitution, the whole problem will be solved in a day. Its really a non-issue in this day and age.

    • Sojubang

      Amsterdam is the same, and I may be wrong but I believe in Nevada its legal too (definitely advertised enough in Vegas).

      • retro714

        Only legal in NV in some of the smaller counties. Vegas is in Clark County where it’s illegal.

    • Ruaraidh

      It’s not just a case of criminalised vs decriminalised, there are different types of decriminalisation such as the Scandinavian method or the New Zealand method. Unfortunately it’s hard to say whether any of them have worked.

      Probably the main problem is that trafficked girls, often coerced into prostitution or sex slavery, will always undercut the price of legal, regulated prostitutes. You can’t rely on people to pay more for a non trafficked prostitute, because the sort of individual who needs to use a prostitute, in a society where casual sex is totally permissible, probably wouldn’t give a shite.

    • An anonymous boy…

      Although you may think legalizing prostitution will solve problems, many studies have shown that legalizing prostitution can just makes things worse by expanding the sex industry which increases demand and thus increases the trafficking of women. So it isn’t so cut and dry.

      I think this lady makes some nice intelligent points against legalizing it:

  • Anonton

    Wow someone mentioned Australia haha!

  • glenn

    I remember BBC covering a certain group in South Korea launching a movement against human slavery. According to the presentation they made, a lot of korean women from north and south korea are being forced to work in sex industries due to debts. In the case of north korea, some women who goes to CHINA to escape the regime, if caught are also sent as sex workers as well or fear being reported to authorities. Sad story.

  • chucky3176

    Here is the US government’s report on human trafficking and prostitution. Read the report on South Korea. South Korea is the only country in Asia that’s in Tier 1 group of countries, recognized for its efforts to combat trafficking. You need to scroll down to the country, “Korea, Republic (Tier 1)”

    I think it’s a crock of shit that Korean medias are over reacting over this. The problem is there, but it’s nowhere near that bad. I think Korean women need to be issued an apology.

    • chucky3176

      Most of the women prostitution problem in Korea, is of the domestic kind. I don’t think the Korean prostitutes going overseas to ply their trade is as bad as it’s reported to be.

  • k

    Chucky if we were to start issuing apologies for stereotyping a group of women as something then we need to start issuing a hell of a lot of apologies to not just korean women but women everywhere.

  • doug

    Was it really necessary to put those poor girls in leg irons? Typical cop behavior. And speaking of cops, how can that huge fat bastard be a cop? He must eat a box of donuts every day.

  • bultak

    prostitutes are women that can’t build health social relationships with men.
    normal women build a social relationship with a man, then she gives him sex in return for resources and protection. prostitutes give sex for money, they are socially retarded.

    • Paul M

      Oh wow, hahahahaha. What a shocking description of a ‘normal’ social relationship. Better change your game buddy because a lot of women don’t need resources or protection, they manage perfectly well by themselves.

    • James

      Sorry it took a long time to approve your comment – it arrived by carrier pigeon from the 16th century so we only just got round to reading it.

      • Brett Sanbon


  • Chucky3176

    According to this ethnic Korean Chinese paper in China, at least 65% of all Korean prostitutes overseas are ethnic Koreans from China who know how to speak both Korean and Chinese.

    Ethnic Koreans get South Korean citizenship papers through fake marriages, then they go over to countries like Australia to ply their trade.

    • DigitalSoju

      Why do you selectively trust news sources that only appeal to you, while ignoring the ones that don’t?

      Insecure much Chucky?

  • cosmos

    you cant make a correlation that demand in sex business is a demand in sex slavery,,if prostitution is legal than it can be controlled by government

  • cosmos

    what studies correlate legalized prostituiton with increase in sex slavery??? You cant correlate legal prostitution with increase in sex slavery. with legal prostitution the government can control, and make the sex workers have health cards, and check,, no more black market ,,the reason sex slavery exists is because the girls cant call the police,,if it is legal and the girls are having trouble they can now call the police and they can get help without fear of getting in trouble with the police ,,

  • cosmos

    Ok I read the report about the sex trade business,,, ,, it was good but a little shallow, it talked about women in the sex business who want out , but there are plenty of us who want out of our jobs because it is in a factory,,it never did any in depth statistical studies ,,minimum sample size of respondants, you know valid statistics, you need a legitimate sample size to make a correlation , I didnt see this in the study,,only a list of thoughts and ideas,, ) about sex slavery and legal prostitution ,, ,,if I work in a factory in another country it is because they are using my body ,,and I want to work in another country,,,, but only talked about increaese in trafficking women ,, , not slavery,, many non sex migrant workers are used in many countries,, some become slaves too, working at a factory,,, the issue then becomes an immigration issue,, and no one is forcing the girls from one country to work in another country, because they do it to make the big bucks that they cannot earn with nursing or other jobs ,, ,,do you think the women who go to arabia and work for the princes are forced to do that ? slavery is when you are forced to do something you dont want ,,

  • Yeeun Park

    the funny fact of Korean whore are they are not in the main stream and whoring are banned from Korea and the whores are not from South Korea even though they are from Korea. most of the whores are from China, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, North Korea. and Cheong-ryang-ri from Korea (which place is like Lv, whore houses), If u want to find a real good Korean girl and women find someone who has graduated university in Seoul. (bachelor degree, not AA degree) and ask Family tree template. (written in Korean Chinese characters). cause all the above Korean whores can speak korean but they dont even have high school yearbook. and dont have family tree template. it has every information about ancestors and blood). i hope it helps. and the girl you were shagging are not korean at least its highly assumed..and if you dont know or are not sure about your girl and the girl you are paying, ask korean guys to help u out

  • chucky3176

    I never believed the problem of alleged Korean prostitutes in the US is that bad. Now I have proof.

    From the Atlanta Journal,
    in the city’s effort to find and rescue thousands of supposed Korean
    prostitutes in Atalanta and Los Angeles uncovers details that the number
    of Korean prostitutes in the US were vastly over stated.
    So why did the US cities lie and exaggerate the problem? Because the
    they used the pretense that human trafficking was so bad, they begged
    the US federal US government for more funding to end the supposed siege
    of US cities by foreign human traffickers. The Journal
    uncovers that this problem was in fact, vastly over exaggerated. … -is/nTjRn/

    If the problem was so bad, there would have been far more foreign women being rounded up in jails across the country, but the results show otherwise. In the end, it just ended up being a ploy by the US cities to get more federal funding so that they can give big fat raises to themselves. It’s a perfect case of rampant corruption by bad mouthing people who are vulnerable.

    I also attribute much blame to the South Korean media who worry too much about the image of South Korea abroad. They print far too many sensitive sensational stories of Korean prostitutes abroad, without checking facts.

  • Toshiaki Haginoya

    Hey, Koreans!
    Create a memorial or build the stature such as you did in Glendale for this.

  • richie2013

    Spent 3years in Ulsan Korea and i must say there are so many hostess bars its a joke. But when you look at the reality a korean man needs the hostess bars cos korean men dont have the balls to chat to women in public or chat em up in bars. Hostess bars are for korean men to gain confidence. Easily seeable and why just look next time you go into a korean bar your see all the korean lads sitting around looking into their cellphones or tablets playing a game. For a foreigner i look at the korean/western women at the bar and not one korean man has bothered to chat them up. So when westerner chats to the girls korean man get jealous why cos korean man has no balls and cant be bothered apart from texting on kakao talk or playing games on phone or tablet. So in essense korean man needs hostess bars and prozzies thats why you have such a huge sex industry work it out.

  • Bulder

    In every country where Prostitution is legal there is less violence ,less Rape and less divorces !!!!! Make it legal and safe . Just like in Germany and Holland and Austria and Greece and in Spain . Stop the madness and the Hypocrisy. Its just sex .

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