Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May 2016, 08:56 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Republic of Korea

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 14 June 2004
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Republic of Korea, 14 June 2004, available at: [accessed 26 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Republic of Korea (Tier 1)

South Korea is a source, transit, and destination country for women from the Philippines, Thailand and other countries of Southeast Asia who are trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation. Some Chinese and Russian women are trafficked to South Korea. Korean women are trafficked to Japan and to the United States, sometimes via Canada.

The government of the Republic of Korea fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. It acknowledges the problem and has shown a steady commitment to support victims, prosecute traffickers, and improve national laws to fight trafficking.


The South Korean government made further progress in addressing trafficking crimes during 2003. South Korea does not have a comprehensive law prohibiting the trafficking of persons. However, law enforcement authorities rely on several statutes including the Criminal Code, the Law on Juvenile Protection, and the Act on Additional Punishment for Specific Crimes to prosecute traffickers. A new law, the Law on Punishment of Procuring and Facilitating Prostitution prohibits pimping, procuring or the advertising of prostitution. It further punishes those who use threats, violence or debt bondage to force prostitution. This law declares that victims' debts to their employers are invalid. Under these statutes, punishments range from three years to life imprisonment and impose fines of up to $83,000. The Ministry of Justice conducted 792 investigations, compared with 450 in 2002. The investigations resulted in 119 indictments and 92 felony convictions. In 2003, the Ministry for Gender Equality developed a curriculum for the National Police to aid in identifying trafficking victims.


The South Korean Government has the means and the political will to protect victims. The Ministry of Gender Equality reported it provided over $800,000 for two shelters for foreign trafficking victims and $188 million for 26 facilities for domestic victims. Between January and June 2003, 33 foreign victims were placed in the shelters and 1,001 Korean women in the guidance and protection facilities. In addition, the government resettled 1,280 North Korean females who were trafficked to China and provided counseling, social, and economic assistance to integrate victims into South Korean society. Beginning in 2003, victims received free legal assistance on demand. The 2004 budget for legal assistance is expected to be over $700,000. While there is no victim restitution program as such, this legal assistance allows victims to file civil suits against their traffickers. In 2003, the Seoul District Court found a club owner guilty of forcing eleven Filipino women into prostitution and ordered restitution payments of $3400 to $5100 to each victim. During 2003, the Korean government cooperated with the U.S. Forces in Korea in identifying brothels suspected of exploiting trafficking victims and barring U.S. soldiers' access to them. In January 2004, the National Police spoke to 777 foreign women near the US military bases to advise them of trafficking issues and their rights.


South Korea employs a variety of tools in its prevention efforts. In June 2003, the government stopped issuing E-6 visas to foreign entertainers. Under the leadership of an active female police chief, the Korean National Police (KNP) printed a series of posters warning of the punishment for prostitution and met with Korean businessmen to encourage displaying the posters in conspicuous locations. The KNP also republished brochures warning about trafficking as well as a new comic book graphically depicting the hazards and illegality of debt bondage. The Ministries of Justice and Gender Equality jointly sponsored a meeting of experts on international trafficking and public awareness strategies that was attended by over 20 countries. The Ministry of Gender Equality also produced English and Russian language pamphlets on shelters and distributed them to South Korean embassies overseas and to the Immigration Bureau. The Commission for Youth Protection established an Internet homepage and a hotline for victims' use. Annually, the Ministry of Justice Training Institute conducts ten classes on various aspects of detecting and handling trafficking cases.

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