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Over 200 arrested in sex trafficking sting

More than 200 people were arrested in connection with sex trafficking over a five week period, police officials said Monday.

According to the National Police Agency, 225 people were arrested in Korea for operating in the international sex trade, from Aug. 22 to Sept. 30.

Of those arrested 110 were women. They were led to believe that they could make large sums of money through prostitution in another country. According to reports, the women stated that financial reasons were the driving factor behind their consent to the deals.

Another 54 men were arrested for soliciting prostitution, along with 61 brokers.

The police reported that 132 people were arrested in connection with sex trafficking to Japan, most of whom were women. Most of the 18 arrested in connection with the U.S. were also women.

The police added that most of the remaining 70 people were Filipino and Chinese men looking to solicit prostitution while on vacation.

Busan Metropolitan Police also arrested another seven men in connection with brokering prostitutes in the Philippines through an internet cafe or soliciting sex.

According to Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, six brokers, including one surnamed Choi, and 16 Korean women, including one Kim, were arrested for partaking in sex trade deals with Japanese brothels. Choi and Kim’s full names were undisclosed to the media. The police here have also asked the Japanese authorities for their cooperation in arresting Suzuki, a brothel owner in Tokyo, whose full name was undisclosed to the media.

Choi and the others are charged with brokering sex trafficking with Japanese brothels for six months since March 2010, during which they made some 100 million won ($85,300).

Choi would lure women by telling them that they could make 30 million won a month while their identity stayed safe.

According to police, the brokers would partner with loan sharks and use debt bondage to send female sex workers to Japan in order to pay off their debts.

The women between 20 to 40-years-old were shocked to find that they had been filmed and that the videos were spread online. Many are suffering from depression and are receiving treatment, police said.

Many of the women accrued up to 10 million won in additional debt through their time in Japan, being charged by the brothels for everything from airfare to marketing nude photos.

“There are still a large number of Korean women in Japan for prostitution,” said police officials.

According to the U.S. State Department, Korea is a source, transit and destination country for forced prostitution, with few prosecutions. According to the U.S. only four traffickers are currently serving prison sentences out of a total 17 convictions in 2009, with a maximum sentence of two years.

By Robert Lee (