Korean sex-trafficking ring busted in Macau

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Korean sex-trafficking ring busted in Macau

The first sex-trafficking case in Macau involving Korean nationals has been busted by police here, the International Crime Investigation Bureau of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said Sunday.

Overseas sex-trafficking cases involving Korean women have previously been uncovered in Japan, the Philippines, the United States and Australia.

A 30-year-old identified only by the surname Yoo was detained for allegedly operating a prostitution service from April to November last year in Macau. Authorities did not verify whether the suspect was male or female.

Two others, as well as 10 Korean women, were indicted without detention for prostitution and arranging prostitution services, police said.

The women reportedly entered Macau as tourists and stayed at a luxurious apartment booked by Yoo for 10 to 30 days. The broker allegedly hired other brokers, who scoured top-notch hotels for potential clients - mostly well-to-do Chinese men - and showed them photographs of the women that were saved on mobile phones. Customers were said to have paid between 850,000 won ($788) and 2.1 million won per hour.

The police said the prostitution ring was inspired by the widespread generalization that Korean women are popular among Chinese men and that Korean prostitutes charged higher fees than those from other countries.

The women, all in their 20s to 30s, previously worked at establishments in posh areas of southern Seoul and joined the trip after seeing ads the brokers posted online.

Police have placed two other suspected Korean sex-trafficking brokers who went missing in Macau on the wanted list and are looking into whether there are other groups there.

Overseas sex-trafficking by Koreans has increased in recent years.

The number of people caught for sex-trafficking nearly quadrupled between 2009 and 2013, from 128 to 496, according to the National Police Agency.

BY KIM SUN-MI, LEE SUNG-EUN [selee@joongang.co.kr]

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