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Human Trafficking - Life in Korea

693 Views 8 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  H0urg1ass
The first six months that I lived in Korea I was a "barracks rat", which means I rarely left my room except to go to work or to get chow. I mostly painted, practiced bass riffs and did thousands and thousands of sit ups (yeah, I'm crazy).

Then I decided "what the heck am I doing? I speak Korean and I live in my room!" so I decided to start going out.

I went out with a bunch of buddies one night and I was shocked. We walked into this club to play some pool and about ten minutes later we were being assailed by lots of scantily clad women asking us to buy them drinks. Now, I work out and I stay in shape and I'm not horribly ugly, but I'm by no means uber attractive either. I'm not the kind of guy that a woman approaches in a bar, so my bull****-o-meter went off the scale immediately. I started making sure my wallet was still in my pocket and my watch was still on my wrist.

Anyhow, I managed to push this girl off of me, which wasn't really all that easy. The clothes they wear leave very very very little to the imagination, but I finally managed to use the ring of death to fend her off.

To make a really long story short I found out later that these girls are called "juicy girls". They are actually human slaves that work in the clubs to generate revenue. The bar owners here will go to the phillipines and thailand and find girls that are really out of luck and make them sign a contract. They promise to get them good jobs and then bring them back here, and make them work in the club until they generate a certain amount of money.

They aren't allowed to leave the club and at the end of the day (they work seven days a week for apprx 10-12 hours a day) they are all put in a big van and driven to a small apartment where they are locked in for the night. They are chaperoned everywhere they go and their days are completely directed by the club owners.

When you buy them a drink, which costs USD $10.00 btw, they get the drink and then the bartender gives them a little ticket, which they immediately tuck away somewhere on their person. Each ticket brings them a little closer to freedom, and consequently the more desperate ones will do more desperate acts to get you to buy them drinks. I've seen some pretty crazy things in these clubs that I couldn't imagine in an American club.

So lets say that you like one of these girls that you meet and you want a little more "attention" than is available inside the club? Well, you go to the bartender and buy their night off. This dollar amount is negotiable, but usually based on how much revenue they would have generated that night, so usually about 200-300 dollars. The incentive for them? Well, it's one of the only times that they get to go out. You can have them from the time you buy them until they have to be at work the next day and while they have to perform certain "acts" they also get to taste a bit of freedom.

Now, lets say you've bought this girls night off a few times and you two start to like each other. Well, you can go to the bar owner and literally buy them. It usually costs about 1500 dollars to buy them off and then you "own" them.

So anyhow, the Army policy here is that it's ok to buy these girls drinks, but if you buy their night off or buy their contract off then you can face military justice for it. Anyhow, one of my friends is really starting to like "his" juicy girl and may buy her contract out so that he doesn't have to go to the club and see her grinding on some other guys lap all night.

What is everyone's thoughts on this? Cause, I'm not sure what to think in the end. It's a ****ty deal, but honestly even the conditions that they live under here are better than the complete poverty that they were living in in the philippines or thailand. However, it's still a form of human trafficking and semi-forced prostitution. (I say semi forced because they can refuse to leave the club with you and they can also refuse to sleep with you even if they do leave the club with you).
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That's really interesting.. I had no idea this happened.

My flatmate is Korean, but I doubt she'd know much about something like that (and I wouldn't want to ask her, she's very polite.)

However, you'll find very similar things going on all over East Asia. Prostitution is illegal in Japan, for example, but I've seen things which here would be called prostitution in an instant go on perfectly legally. From hostess bars, which are similar to what you describe but without the 'contract' (in some cases there are sexual favours involved), to the lowest I've heard about, which is a kind of glory hole setup.. :wacko: Of course it's different because the girls in question are 'willing.' But does anyone live that kind of existence because they're willing.. It's always going to be fairly sad and desperate, and to be honest, freedom may well be an abstract concept in such a situation.

What facinates me most is these aren't poor, third world countries like thailand, which we all know is infamous for it's sex industry. They're enormously developed wealthy economies, where there just seem to be far more cracks in the law.

Korea, from what I understand, is still a very patriachal society. One of the reasons it has the highest rate of female outmarriage in the world, because, as I understand it, a lot of women don't want to get stuck in restrictive Korean marriage roles. Maybe it has something to do with this, not to mention that there are consequentially a lot of lonely unmarried men in Korea who probably need somewhere to expend their energy.

Then again, maybe it's just a general cultural difference.. Maybe people in east asia just aren't as squeamish about sexual exploitation as we are. Walk into a Japanese video or computer game store and you'll find concepts which could never possibly be released under western censorship laws (a gaming series called 'Battle Raper' anyone.. note the realistic tears. :x ) Perhaps it's just the way things are, and we, in the name of tollerance, need to simply accept that countries will grow along their own lines, and follow their own social rules which are not neccesarily our own..

All up to you, of course, I'm just laying down ideas.

And you speak Korean? Wow.. I don't know about the states, but over here that's an incredibly rare language for foreigners to possess, and one which is going to be very important in the future. Kudos to you for taking the trouble to learn it.
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Well, I guess that I'm just shocked that they actually buy these girls and own them. I know it happens, but I just guess I never thought I would ever see it for real.

The Korean government knows about it, heck, I've even seen cops come in and leave with these girls, but they don't do anything about it. In America, you just can't be that overt about it, and I guess that it bothers my conscience a little.
If you buddy buys the girls contract and lets her out of it I don't know how it really did anything wrong. Technically if you can't prove that he bought her by letting her go, then there is nothing wrong. Now if wants to buy the contract then makes her live with him and do other things then I can see how it is wrong.
Wow this is complicated. I went to Hong kong last year and the same thing happens, virtually naked girls in bars come and fawn all over you and get you to buy them drinks, then a lady comes out from the back and says "you like her?" and names a price. When you tak to the girls you find out they are all Thai or fillipinas.

In HK only some bars are like this, and I assume Korea's the same. You could always go to a normal club where rich Korean kids hang out instead of a seedy girly bar if you don't like this sort of thing. ;) That's what I did after my first experience of this nature. Being a westerner I felt uncomfortable in exactly the way you describe.

Basically though, I can't really see much difference between this and a stripper in Australia for example. They dance for you, you pay extra for a private dance, you can ask them for more and they can say yes or no. (BTW I never do this. I've been to strip clubs for mates birthdays etc but I am happily in a relationship!)

The only difference is the crappy conditions they all live in and the fact that they are foreigners being exploited. But as you said they'd be worse off in Thailand or The Phillipines. I'm sure many Australian strippers and prostitutes share houses with each other too, just more affluent ones. I've talked to strippers here and they like their job. They wouldn't do it if they didn't. I think prostitution should be legal if everyone's consenting (as it is in my state). I am not religious so I see no moral reason why not.

Less affluent countries are a different matter though, as how do you tell whether the girls (or boys) are consenting or not? Then again your average man in a third world country would probably rather be a bank teller than a pimp or street vendor, he just doesn't get the opportunity. Does this mean he is a slave as he is being forced by economic conditions to do work he doesn't want to do? I don't have my dream job. Am I tehrefore an unwilling slave?

To be honest I find this whole issue very complicated and I prefer to simply skirt it by refusing to make value judgements of other cultures. When I am in a foreign country I behave by my (Australian) standards but respect their laws and customs. I personally can choose to not take advantage of these girls, but getting worried about it on behalf of them doesn't solve anything.

I'd just accept that these things happen in the world and you're not a worse person if you don't take a stand over it. If this behaviour is illegal in Korea then you could call the police, but if it isn't then what can you do? It's not your culture and not your fight. And calling it slavery sort of implies that ALL work is slavery. They are being paid, albeit poorly.
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You know, it's weird but there really aren't all that many other clubs in the area that aren't like this. Seriously, it's an army base and they know that, so they pile this place full of "juicy clubs". In fact, there are other bars, but they are generally crappy. They might have one pool table and one dart board and they are usually themed (most play only hip hop, and some play only rock).

The Juicy bars, however, are loaded so they have all brand new pool tables and brand new cues and big dance floors (Yeah, I'm white. yeah, I dance. KICK IT) and they usually mix the music up a lot cause they know that pretty much everyone comes in there. One song will be hip hop, one rock and then amazingly a country song or two, which makes me happy, cause I got a Slipknot poster right beside my Eminem poster (You don't like it; you can leave!) and I like AWWWL kinds of music.

The more I think about it, though, the less it bothers me. I started to picture is like this: I'm in the army. I signed a contract to be in the army. The army tells me where I can go, and when I can go there and where I have to live, which is often in a room with a couple other guys. The army can even tell me when I have to be home and if I can take someone home with me. So what's the difference? These girls live the same life I do, but because their job makes them wear less clothes and dance for money, they are looked down on. Honestly, I feel like more of a ***** myself, cause I didn't HAVE to join the army, I was making plenty of money IRL. :rolleyes:
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Well hey, isn't that work in general?

You have to be in a certain place at a certain time, you have to stay there, perform tasks, and generally follow the commands of someone else (unless you're self employed.) In return for this, you recieve money, and the security of knowing money is going to keep coming in for the concievable future.

Work is always going to be an exchange of freedom for security. It's just far more obvious in the army because the level of control is far greater.

Ultimately, we're all slaves to our need for money. That's how our society keeps moving, because everyone needs to keep it moving to recieve their paycheck. There will always be victims.. Even if we move away from prostitution, I remember talking to someone who'd worked in the soft porn industry (as a producer.) The sad thing is, all the girls working there had tried to make it onto mainstream TV, and failed. Now they had nowhere else to go, literally, because it's almost impossible to get other TV work when you've done something like that. They couldn't just walk out of entertainment altogether either, because they weren't qualified to do anything else.

Capitalism, it's a cruel system, but sadly, the only one which works.
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The_Giant_Mantis said:
Capitalism, it's a cruel system, but sadly, the only one which works.
That is, of course, only half true. The Sun does not revolve around the Earth, nor is the Earth flat. The nucleus of an atom is not indivisible. Capitalism is not the only economic system which works, it's just the most successful contender to date. It's definately a cruel system, but so has every other system that's been instituted except, possibly, tribal systems on a small scale. My anthropology is weak, but I believe that such systems are often fairly equitable until the neighboring fairly equitable tribal system throws a sharp stick through your brother.
Capitalism is the Economy.

Democracy is the government.

Let's keep the two straight, since there are many democracies that are not capitalistic (England) and many capitalist countries that are not democratic (China). Not everyone can be perfect by amalgamating the two ideals like we have. :D
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