Hookers advertise via smartphones

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Hookers advertise via smartphones

The sex industry is taking advantage of smartphone technology, and there are now dozens of applications that help its users find the services of the world’s oldest profession.

Inevitably, critics are blaming application stores for being too lax, saying the term “smartphone” should be replaced with “Sex-Mart Phone.”

When JoongAng Ilbo reporters downloaded an application that introduces users to a Korean adult entertainment business, hundreds of women in underwear popped up on the screen. Detailed profiles of the girls were provided when they tapped on the half-naked photos. More information about the girls was available from a call center.

The reporters were not asked to verify if they were adults when downloading the application, which means minors could use it easily.

The Jungbu Police Precinct recently arrested a smartphone application developer identified only by the surname Kim and an advertising agency owner surnamed Jeong for designing and operating a mobile application that features adult entertainment advertisements.

To run an ad in the application, business owners paid from 50,000 ($47) to 100,000 won per ad to Kim and Jeong, which added up to 50 million won from 228 adult entertainment businesses. The smartphone application was downloaded 38,125 times in six months.

Under current regulations, people who advertise prostitution can be jailed for a maximum of three years or slapped with a fine of 30 million won. But authorities hesitate to crack down on them because there are such a large number of applications, a loophole sex businesses take advantage of, and some of the apps might be even less innocent than they admit to be.

“Users must be cautious as some of the advertisements have hidden malicious code that be stealing their personal data,” says Lim Jong-in, Dean of the Korea University Graduate School of Information Security.

Aside from smartphone applications used by the sex industry, chat applications, which are popular among teenagers, are also being misused as means of enticing teenage girls into prostitution.

“A guy said he would pay me money if I meet him, so I met him out of curiosity,” a 14-year-old girl said in an article in an online community. “When a middle-age man showed up, I realized what he really wanted and ran away.”

When a pair of reporters changed the stats on a chatting application and pretended to be a 19-year-old girl, dozens of men in their 20s to 40s, including some who identified themselves as cram school lecturers or employees of large corporations, chatted them up

BY LEE YU-JEONG, KOH SEOK-SEUNG [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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