Japan’s Prostitutes, via Korea

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We’ve witnessed the gay and transexual prostitution scene in Thailand — in Phuket’s Patgon district, the hub is Soi Katoi, or “Ladyboy Street,” and looks something like this — but wouldn’t consider ourselves to be experts on all of Southeast Asia’s paid sex scene. So learning about a Korean-Japanese gay-trans prostitution ring is still titillating, and sad.

And for every one of these that gets reported, there are undoubtedly dozens more that aren’t.

Police have uncovered a prostitution ring that sent dozens of Korean gays and transgenders to engage in the male sex trade in Japan. The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said Monday it had arrested a 41-year-old identified only as Park for arranging the illicit hookups, booking three others for similar offences. Another 14 people are under investigation for having worked as homosexual prostitutes in red-light districts in Yokohama after being set up by Park.

Park “recruited” them through online gay communities, saying that they could make big money in a short time through prostitution in Japan. Most of them accepted Park’s offer to amass money to have a sex change operation. Park is suspected of having 30 Korean gays and transgenders work at brothels in Japan since January 2007 and taking a total of 500 million won ($330,000) from them in what was termed as a sort of brokerage commission ? about 10 to 15 million won each. The 30 men had sex with Japanese men for 15,000 yen to 20,000 yen (230,000 won to 310,000 won). Besides the brokerage, Park took 80,000 yen from each of them per month under the guise of “fees for protection,” and paid it to local yakuza.

According to police, Park himself is gay with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and had sex with some of the prostitutes for whom he arranged the sex trade. Police are hunting other sex trade groups similar to the one used by Park. They are conducting a joint investigation with Japanese police and Interpol into the connection between such brokers and the yakuza. [Korea Times]