Loan sharks coerced women into prostitution

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Loan sharks coerced women into prostitution

The Busan Metropolitan Police Agency busted an international prostitution ring Tuesday, which was sending Korean women to work for Internet prostitution sites in Tokyo.

Police arrested three loan sharks for their involvement as brokers, arranging to send the women overseas, as well as six other brokers, four sex website managers and 34 female prostitutes.

One 37-year-old loan shark surnamed Lee told police that from last May to February of this year, he helped send to Tokyo 17 indebted women, telling them it was “a way to earn lots of money.”

The women traveled to Japan on a 90-day travel visa, where they gave 40 percent of their profits to local prostitution website managers and the rest to Lee in order to repay their debts.

The women earned 20,000 yen ($179) for 80 minutes of service, 25,000 yen for 100 minutes, and 30,000 yen for 120 minutes.

The women had to take videos of their intercourse and submit them to website managers, who would then upload them to the site to attract customers.

When some of the women couldn’t re-enter Japan due to more stringent immigration regulations, Lee sent them to Canada, the United States and Australia. He told police he found various contacts via an online community.

The women Lee sent to Canada, the United States and Australia were on travel visas and worked at brothels disguised as residential homes.

Police also discovered Lee trained the women before they left Korea on how to pretend to be tourists, telling them to memorize tourist information pertinent to each country and to fake travel schedules. He also equipped each woman with 1 million won in cash and a camera.

Lee even handed out manuals detailing how the women should interact with customers, including details such as how to talk with customers on the phone and even what facial expressions to make when having sex.

Also arrested were two other loan sharks, a 57-year-old man surnamed Yoon and a 47-year-old man surnamed Park.

Yoon was running a high-interest loan shop in Tokyo, near Uguisudani station, when he seized the passport of a woman who couldn’t pay him back and forced her to stay in the country illegally as a prostitute.

Park was arrested for hiring 15 prostitutes in Japan, which he did by posting an advertisement on a website for women seeking part-time jobs. Police explained that he was able to operate more easily because he didn’t have to invest in building a physical brothel and therefore wasn’t as vulnerable to arrest.

The investigations began after police were tipped off by an intelligence source about a large number of Korean women sex workers operating near Uguisudani station. They then conducted their investigations by speaking to the victims and tracing their banking accounts.

Police estimate as many as 60 women have been sent abroad by the brokers.

BY HWANG SUN-YOON[chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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