Prostitution runs rampant on NaverPark, a 30-year-old office worker, recently typed the Korean words “Yeotap” and “Soranet” into Naver, the country’s most popular Web portal, out of curiosity. Those are the names of illegal sites well known to provide information on prostitution and pornography that were shut down by police early this year.
The search returned about a dozen Naver communities that included those words in their names.
Most had less than 10 members, and only a few posts, but featured links advertising new versions of Soranet and Yeotap. Clicking them opened sites with information on a range of adult services such as the location and contact information of prostitutes. They even had personal prostitute profiles including body measurements and the types of services available, along with explicit photos.
“I wasn’t able to find the real ‘Yeotap’ Web site, but it was easy to find several Web sites that provided information on prostitution,” Park told the JoongAng Ilbo.
A string of shocking sexual assaults and murders of both women and children over the past few years has galvanized the government into strengthening its campaigns against offline prostitution in a bid to stamp out activities believed to stir up uncontrollable desires.
Local governments launched teams to crack down on prostitution being offered out of small apartments called officetels in Seoul, particularly in the city’s affluent southern Gangnam District. Police also have aggressively gone after people spreading flyers on the streets advertising sex for sale. The Park Geun-hye administration designated sex crime as one of its “four social evils” that must be stamped out and has been encouraging law enforcement to get the job done.
But Naver doesn’t seem to be affected by the campaign. If a Naver community has less than 100 members and fewer than 10 posts, it’s generally considered dormant and can avoid detection by the police.
About 100 such communities selling sex appeared when a JoongAng Ilbo reporter did a quick search for things like Soranet. “Join us now and share all the information we provide,” one read. “We have created a system that will not expose your real name even if this page is caught.”
“We really didn’t know such spaces exist,” a Naver official claimed when told by the reporter about the sites. “We conduct daily monitoring to prevent our members from getting involved in illegal services like these, but we can’t find every one of them due to a manpower shortage.”
“We will request that the country’s major Web portals strengthen their monitoring of spaces linked to illegal prostitution to protect the people, children and teenagers in particular,” said a spokesman from the Korea Communications Commission.
BY LEE SEUNG-HO, KWON SANG-SOO [firstname.lastname@example.org]