The U.S. Congressional Research Service still rates South Korea as a major Asian destination for organized sex tours in a recent report entitled "Trafficking in Persons: U.S. Policy and Issues for Congress.¡±
Since the prostitution crackdown laws went into effect on Sept. 23, 2004, Korea says, brothels have been closed down, organized prostitution for foreign tourists has to all intents and purposes eradicated, and ordinary prostitution has been outlawed and drastically reduced. All this is corroborated by objective data. The latest classification by the CRS is therefore a blow for the Korean government, highlighting the need to disseminate accurate information to improve the national image.
A 2004 file photo of an entertainment area in Dongducheon, Gyeonggi Province before the prostitution crackdown law went into effect in September 2004.
In the report issued last week, the CRS lists South Korea as a primary Asian destination for organized sex tours, alongside the Philippines, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Hong Kong. By citing Indonesia and Taiwan as secondary destinations for organized sex tours, the report suggests prostitution in South Korea is more serious than in these two countries.
An official with the South Korean Embassy in Washington said, "We're making all-out efforts to present accurate information on Korea to politicians, government officials, academics and experts in the U.S. It is sometimes possible that accurate information on the reality in Korea is not delivered. We'll take a proper countermeasure after finding out the truth first."
According to the CRS report, U.S. President George W. Bush on Oct. 18, 2007 issued sanctions against North Korea, Burma, Cuba, Iran, Syria, and Venezuela, which the U.S. State Department had categorized, in its own human trafficking report, as Tier 3 countries for failing to address the problem of trafficking for forced labor.