On Saturday night, I had the opportunity to go on a prayer walk with my church in the red light district of Daegu. If you don’t know, the red light district is an area in a city where there’s a lot of prostitution.
In Korea, sex trafficking isn’t something that’s really talked about. I guess they like to pretend it’s not happening? I’m not sure. So it’s very hidden, and not super obvious like it is in Thailand or India. I’ve heard that in Thailand it’s very in-your-face and very flashy and obvious that you’re in the red light district. In Daegu, it’s hidden pretty well. We went early in the evening because it’s safer, so we really didn’t even see that much. When you’re walking down the streets, you can see the really flashy hotels with neon lights that are obviously used for prostitution. I’m not sure if that would be considered a brothel or not. Also, I learned this a few weeks ago, but a lot of businesses have these spinning pole things outside. If there’s a double spinning pole thing, that means that the business offers “extra services” if you want to order them, and most of the businesses are barber shops. In Daegu, the more obvious stuff is happening in alleys. So we went down a couple of the alleys. Because it was so early in the evening (it was about 7:30 pm), we weren’t able to see a whole lot. When walking down the alleys, you can see an older woman sitting there looking innocent, but they’re actually all madams, which I believe is like a female version of a pimp. The alleys are full of these buildings that are completely glass in the front. We did see several of the girls getting ready for the night. So as you’re walking past these buildings, you can just look right in and stare at these half-dressed women putting on makeup and getting ready for the night. When they’re ready, they go on display. The client picks which girl they want and they go to a room. As we were passing the buildings, I noticed that none of the girls looked happy. Imagine that. I wouldn’t be happy either if I had to sleep with several guys every night. None of them were smiling, and they all just stared at us as we passed by.
A lot of times when I’ve heard about human trafficking, I’ve heard that people get kidnapped and are forced to do it. Or they’re promised a job internationally, and then they get there and find out that their “job” is being a prostitute. In Korea, it’s a little different. The way most women get involved with prostitution is that they’re in debt. I was told that a lot of times it’s girls who are in college and need loans to pay for college.. so they become prostitutes thinking that they’ll make a lot of money, but all they do is get into more debt. I’m sure they’re also threatened by their pimp/madam and are really scared to leave because of it. I’m guessing the consequences are really bad if you get caught trying to leave, but I’m not sure. And don’t quote me on all of this, because it’s very possible that I got confused and messed up some of this information.
This is not okay in so many ways so LET’S DO SOMETHING. You can find more information about human trafficking at www.ijm.org and www.notforsalecampaign.org