Koreans arrested for sex trafficking

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Koreans arrested for sex trafficking

In August 2011, a 28-year-old woman surnamed Kim was looking for a job in adult entertainment services on the Internet and something caught her eye.

“Massage girls needed,” the advertisement read. “Comfortable place overseas. We know the economy in Korea is pretty bad.”

She knew that “massage girls” meant prostitution, but that wasn’t a problem. She had worked in similar services for years.

Days after she sent an e-mail, she received a reply from a 22-year-old woman surnamed Hong who said she was in Los Angeles, helping people like Kim find work abroad.

Hong said she could provide Kim with an apartment near Los Angeles, and Kim would receive $250 to $300 per service. She said that Kim must pay her $100 every time Hong brings in a new client.

Hong enticed Kim by saying popular girls can earn up to 25 million won ($22,000) per month. Hong told her to take seminude photos for her profile picture.

Without a U.S. visa, she was eligible to stay in the U.S. for up to three months, but Kim wanted a tourist visa that would allow her to stay up to six months so she could earn more money. Hong provided fake bank statements that showed Kim had more than 50 million won in her bank account and also a certificate of enrollment at a university in Seoul.

Everything seemed to be working out well. But as she finished an interview at the U.S. Embassy in September last year, police officers were waiting outside the embassy gate. Kim’s American Dream ended just like that.

The International Crime Investigation Bureau of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said yesterday they detained a 33-year-old woman surnamed Jeong, who operated a prostitution service out of Hong Kong, as well as Hong, the operator in Los Angeles, for arranging prostitution.

The police also booked 23 prostitutes, including the aforementioned Kim, without detention. The police requested the U.S. State Department for assistance in investigating a 26-year-old woman whose surname is also Jeong, who was arrested by the local New York police on the same charges.

The police said that the three illegal service operators have recruited Korean residents from late 2009 to May last year through an Internet job site that is well known as a space for prostitutes or room salon, or hostess bar, workers, earning a total of 940 million won in unlawful revenue.

By Min Kyung-won, Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]
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