According to a survey by the YTN Corporation called, ‘Young man’s future’, half of the university students surveyed have liberal views on sex but they are also aware that sex crimes should be strictly punished. In the past, Korea regarded sex as an activity for reproduction. Surprisingly, Koreans considered sex as a shameful activity and thought that sex should be hidden. As time has passed and Korea has adopted Western culture, younger-generation Koreans think that having sex is not a shameful thing, but rather something that can openly accepted. This does not mean that we must tacitly accept cases related to sex. Instead, it is crucial to give the right impression to the public concerning sex tourism and sex. It is also vital to think deeply about the sex-tourism industry, which has been an issue for a long time, and consider possible solutions.
First; SEX TOURISM?
Sex tourism is well for a trip for sex-trade. Among types of tourism that have different purposes, sex tourism is a type of tourism for the purpose of having sex – either legally or illegally. The International Tourism Organization defines sex tourism as, ‘traveling to a region for the purpose of having sex. The region may be a place that provides tourists with sightseeing areas or mainly prostitution areas. Depending on the location, sex tourism can either be domestic tourism or foreign tourism. Also, according to the sex buyers’ purposes, the sex can be part of a business trip or leisure trip. Moreover, it is possible to categorize sex tourism into two categories; legal or illegal. Lastly, sex tourism can be classified into two further categories depending on the partners the sex sellers offer; children or adults.
Second; History of Law (related to SEX TOURISM) and SEX TOURISM in Korea!
The history of prostitution in our country started a long time ago in the Joseon Dynasty. At that time, there were people specialized in prostitution called, ‘Gisaeng’. The sex market developed throughout the Korean Empire, until the Japanese occupation period. In October 1904, sex tourism came under rule of Japanese legation called, ‘Gyeongseong consul relation’. This allowed licensed sex markets to spread legal prostitution throughout Korea. After the Korean War, women started to work in the sex trade market because they needed money, but the government made laws against whoremongering meant to stamp out prostitution. However, at that time the government did not consider ways to support the women so the government’s efforts did not have a positive impact. After the May 16 Coup, the Korean government’s sex trade policy claimed to strongly support the eradication of prostitution. By enacting ‘Prevention of Prostitution’, it showed the Korean government’s willingness to eradicate the sex trade which was seen as a social ill by the government. Like you can see from the name of this law, ‘Prevention of Prostitution’, this law attributed the cause of the sex trade to the sex workers. The government thought that sex trade problems would be solved if it led sex workers onto the right path. However, the government’s assumption did not work well. This law aimed to contribute to public moral values and human rights by preventing prostitution. However, in the 1970s the government used women as a means of earning foreign currency. This was the business called ‘Gisaeng tourism’ for foreign tourists. This type of tourism was reproduced again in the late 1980s. To successfully host the Olympic Games, the government needed national finance so they led women sex workers to provide sexual favors for foreign tourists. In short, sex workers were a means of earning foreign currency. As a civilian government was established, ‘Prevention of Prostitution’ was revised and enforced. In January 1996, to control the commercialization of sex that had already spread throughout the country and to cut the demand and supply of sex, both buyers and sellers of sex were either sentenced to less than one year in prison, had to pay up to three million won, or were sentenced to 1 - 30 days in prison. After revising the law, the punishment for sex buyers became more intense. Before they revised the law they were just releasing buyers with a warning, so the sex trade was actually still viewed as a necessary evil. After they revised the law the participatory government tried to eradicate the sex trade by enacting a special prostitution law in March 2004 concerning the punishment of acts such as prostitution and sex trafficking. These revised law did not use expressions like prostitution or prostitution in a brothel. Rather it used more neutral expressions for those activities, such as ‘sex trade’. The law now states that both sex buyers and sellers have a responsibility. The government thought of sex workers as victims so it expanded help and self-support programs for women who were pressured to sell sex by sex business owners.
Third; An example of SEX TOURISM in Korea
Sex tourism cases can still be found in Korea’s biggest tourist city, Jeju.
Jeju expected that the number of Japanese tourists would decrease by 30% due to anti-prostitution law enforcement which started in 2004. It further expected this law enforcement would have a big negative impact on related tourism fields and other fields which targeted Japanese tourists. In fact, in 2005, foreign golf tourists who visited Jeju Island decreased by 11.4% from 71,331 to 63,189. But the effect of the anti-sex-trade law was temporary. According to Jeju Island’s tourism association, visitors have gradually increased and in 2011, 29 men who came to Jeju from other areas, were arrested for soliciting prostitutes. While policemen were investigating them, they found out that 80 percent of them actually visited Jeju as regular tourists. But as they were traveling Jeju Island, they saw leaflets offering sex trade activities and so they enjoyed sex tourism. In particular, they turned out to have sex with workers from the sex industry for only two weeks; from December 13th-27th last year. There were other groups who got caught because they acted as sex tourism brokers on Jeju Island in 2016. This indicates that sex tourism is still active among men tourists who come to Jeju Island for sightseeing.
Fourth; A famous red light district in Korea
There are red light districts in Suwon, Yeongdeungpo, and Cheonho (photos could not be taken because it was illegal).
Fifth; Examples of SEX TOURISM in other countries
1) According to a 2014 report, there were up to 30,000 ‘Kopinos’. Kopino is a portmanteau word combining the words Phillippino and Korean. So a child who has a Korean father and Philippine mother is called ‘Kopino’. Kopinos are a growing problem. There is an increasing number of Korean men who go to the Phillippines for tourism, business, or even study and make a baby (Kopino) with a Phillippine woman, but do not take responsibility as the father and simply return to Korea. It is also a social issue in the Philippines because most Kopinos are raised in a severely poor environment and get a ‘cold shoulder’ from peers. At present, there are a lot of Kopino lawsuits against Korean fathers in domestic courts.
2) China and Russia are countries that ban sex tourism like Korea. Countries in Northern Europe, such as Sweden, Finland, and Norway, have a partial ban on sex tourism. Partial bans only punish sex buyers. Countries that adopt state regulations include part of Germany, the Netherlands, and Australia. They have adopted a licensed prostitution system that is their national regulation system. Countries such as France, Italy, and England are the only ones that have abolished regulation on sex tourism.
Some countries allow sex tourism because they think of sex trade as free trade between adults. Also, they consider sex workers as a normal worker. In other words, those countries have target policy; acknowledging sex worker’s right and solving the negative social labeling effect on sex workers. However, whether state-regulated prostitution is effective or not is still debatable. According to a report by the European Parliament in 2007, the Netherlands implemented state-regulated prostitution and 95 percent of sex workers have been working without contracts, and the laborers have not received benefits of social security services.
Actually, there is no solution. This is because there are different cultural traditions and lifestyles based on each country’s history. In the case of South Korea, Korean people think that they need to take care of their bodies because their parents gave them their bodies. Therefore, people think, ‘how can we use or trade our bodies?’ Conversely, some people think that prohibiting sex trade violates sexual self-determination based on individual liberties. The question here is; ‘Is it better to punish sex tourism which is already actively carried on, or legalize sex tourism without any support?’. It is not right to legalize sex tourism because there are many problems that have occurred in Germany, due to its legalization of sex tourism. However, there are still many issues in South Korea where sex tourism is banned. So, like Sweden, I think that a partial ban on sex tourism is one effective way to solve problems. Among the examples of foreign countries that I have mentioned above, Sweden as seen positive effects by carrying out a partial ban on sex tourism. According to a report from the government, after enforcing that law, sex workers on the street were reduced by about half and men who wanted to buy sex also decreased from 13.6% to 7.6% in 2010.
There is another way that Jeju City is using. This is by continuously ‘conducting campaigns to solve problems about sex tourism’. For example, ‘Haenaem’, a Jeju (field) counseling center affiliated with the Jeju Association for Women’s Rights, distributes leaflets (written in English, Japanese and Chinese) for preventing prostitution in foreign countries. That campaign was held during ‘Jeju Tourism Gold Week’ and was aimed at Japanese, Chinese and Taiwanese people who passed international points of entry in Jeju International Airport to visit Jeju Island. ‘Haenaem’ also held an exhibition some artwork related to sex tourism. There are lots of benefits from the preventing foreign prostitution campaign held at the ‘International Airport’ where many foreigners must pass through. There are sex brokers in markets on Jeju Island who help citizens of Jeju Island and tourists enjoy sex tourism, and there are some people who really participated in sex tourism. Both brokers and sex tourists are charged with a crime when they are caught. Taking that as an opportunity, ‘Haenaem’ conducted other campaigns to improve Jeju Island’s image as an international tourist city, including improvement of women’s rights, and spreading a bond of sympathy among citizens for preventing sex tourism. ‘Haenaem’ stated that it would campaign to mainly support revision of laws about the illegality of the sex trade, punishing and preventing sex traders, protecting victims, etc. I believe that waging this kind of campaign is a creative way to make the shaded sex tourism brighter.
Sex is defined as ‘the best expression of humanity and affection’. In the past, people thought sex was for reproduction. Too often though, when people think about sex, they place emphasis on their pleasure and their satisfaction. To keep up with this cultural change, institutional support of our country should be supported. Furthermore, sex tourism is already taking place in South Korea, and the government needs to make sex tourism an autonomous activity and provide more education for people who have jobs related to sex tourism, or the government can punish sex tourism without exception. In other words, a direction of prohibition should be made at least. < Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >