The QiRanger Adventures


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From time to time, I am asked to consult on a University student’s presentation. This past Monday was one such day. The topic this English Literature student decided to discuss was sex crimes in Korea.

I thought this was an interesting topic for an English Lit. class and quickly found myself deep in conversation about his findings and other aspects of Korean life. Probably the most surprising fact that came across in our conversation was that Korea has about one-third as many forced sexual rapes compared to the United States.

That wasn’t the focus of his presentation (or PPT as they call it here), but it made me think about the sex trade here in Korea and if old attitudes deliberately reduce the reported cases of assault. I think this is partly the case, since the age of consent is 13 (which could mean as young as 11 in Western age). It would be easy for adults to coerce a young girl into a sexual relationship that we would deem rape, but would not under the laws of Korea. In my opinion, mental coercion is using force, just a different type.

This aspect was part of the presentation. My student informed me that most parents do not talk with their children about sex or its consequences. In fact, they don’t usually bring up what is appropriate behavior sometimes when interacting with someone who is quite a bit older. In his mind, it was a big problem that needed to be addressed. I have to agree. In a country where someone can essentially trick a young woman into having sex and not have any criminal actions held against him, those types of conversations need to be prevalent in every home.

However, sex in Korea is an interesting topic. On one hand you have the traditional conservatives that may not even have a first date until they are in their early 20s… then end up having a first kiss when they are in their mid-20s. Then on the other hand you have the rampant sex trade that is everywhere. There are certainly varying degrees of this trade, but to give you an idea of how widespread it is in my little corner of the world, there are only three bars in my neighborhood. Every other establishment that sells alcohol is a room salon, hostess club, or 노래빠 (norae bar).

These establishments make their money promoting sex. Salary men come in and buy over-priced drinks and pay for the company of women. In many cases, the “business” arrangement ends there; but, more often than not, these places are located in buildings with a Love Motel and one can arrange for a tryst with the hostess after your session at the club is over. Many women are exploited in this manner, treated as sexual pieces of meat. Probably the most disturbing thing about the practice, is that it is tolerated and promoted heavily.

I asked my student what he thought about the practice. He said, “I really have no feeling on the matter. It is the girls’ job and who am I to say what they can and cannot do. Besides men have an instinct for sex and the girls are there for it.”

I read an article yesterday stating that many girls in Japan enter this “field” to earn extra money for shopping. I can see a similar line of thinking here in Korea, for the country is very materialistic – people must have the best looking clothes, the newest televisions, the latest cell phone, etc. So I’m sure that many get into the business to get the things they “need.” I think that is just sad.


Written by Steve Miller

October 14, 2009 at 1:01 pm

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