Authorities bust prostitution ring

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Authorities bust prostitution ring

Police announced Thursday that they had booked 104 people for illegally buying or selling sex.

Of them, seven men were booked for buying sex - the others were booked because they worked in the sex industry and included online brokers and prostitutes.

Police also apprehended six sex industry brokers who are alleged to have bribed three police officers to cover up investigations.

Authorities opened the investigation in January, when a list of 220,000 people who patronized or inquired about sex services online was released by the consulting firm Ryan & Folks.

However, police said the personal profiles in the list, including phone numbers, occupations, license plate numbers, and amounts paid were often found to be incorrect or unreliable. The list of 220,000 people also included the names of people who had simply inquired about sexual services.

The subsequent investigation of the list led police to uncover sex industry ring and its leader, a man surnamed Kim, 36. Police obtained eight of Kim’s ledgers that contained personal profiles of its customers. During questioning, three police officers were also alleged to have received bribes from workers in the ring.

According to police, a sex broker surnamed Cho paid one police officer 7.5 million won ($6,338) in exchange for him turning a blind eye if or when Kim was caught.

In 2013, Cho also reportedly paid 3 million won to a lieutenant, surnamed Kim, who was stationed at Seoul Gangnam Police Precinct at the time.

The following year, when a 36-year-old sex broker within Kim’s business surnamed Shim was apprehended, Cho paid 4 million won to the lieutenant, who by then had been transferred to Seoul Seocho Police Precinct, to get advice on how Shim should word his testimony to police.

In August 2015, Cho paid the lieutenant another 500,000 won. Kim denied having ever received bribes.

Cho told police that he coordinated sexual services worth approximately 200,000 won each to a lieutenant surnamed Kim and a sergeant at Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency in return for being alerted before any sort of investigation. Both admitted to receiving sexual services, but with no strings attached. Police submitted a request for arrest warrants for the three officers, though the appeal was denied.

Kim reportedly opened an office in 2011 in Yeoksam-dong, southern Seoul, to base his trade, which operates via online messaging and matches sex sellers and buyers.

BY CHAE SEUNG-GI [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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