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Korean Prostitution Ring in California Shames the Korean Community

Korean Prostitution Ring in California Shames the Korean Community

Posted July. 04, 2005 03:12,   


The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Friday that it raided two organizations in California that have smuggled hundreds of Korean women into the U.S. and helped them find jobs as prostitutes, arresting 45 and putting over 150 female sex workers into custody.

As a result of a joint enforcement operation of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and the Internal Revenue Service on June 30, 28 prostitution businesses in Los Angeles and 50 in San Francisco turned up to have been in business under the guise of being acupuncture clinics, sauna and massage parlors, or spinal cord clinics, said the Attorney’s Office.

On the evening of June 30, some Koreans witnessed heavily armed federal investigators surround and search a room salon in Koreatown, L.A., a massage parlor in Hollywood, an apartment where female workers resided, and a foreign currency exchange shop, and haul people away in handcuffs.

The investigators point out that with the launch of a joint investigation team on prostitution and human trafficking in January this year in Los Angeles, Korean massage parlors in this area have been the center of prostitution. The rise in prostitution followed by human smuggling and trafficking that involved a criminal organization led the federal government to launch a massive crack down.

Jeong’s Organization led by Jeong Young-jun, 39-year-old Beverly Hills resident, in Los Angeles and Young’s Organization headed by Kim Ho-gyeong, 36-year-old room salon representative, were the targets of this investigation, the U.S. media quoted the attorney’s warrant on Saturday. Jeong was arrested on June 30. The attorney’s office pressed charges against 55, including Jeong and Kim.

Some of the Korean women who engaged in prostitution entered the U.S. with a visiting visa and others paid up to $16,000 to the smugglers and entered the U.S. via Canada or Mexico. Some of the Korean women volunteered to be sex workers in order to pay for their expenses, said the Attorney’s Office.

In May last year, U.S. investigators arrested a similar group of Koreans who engaged in prostitution brokerage and money laundering in Los Angeles. The group had raked in $1.5 million annually for 10 years before being arrested and $2.4 million worth of cash was found in one of the key members’ residences.

Korean Americans were ashamed by the recent incident and said, “This case will stigmatize the Korean society here in the U.S. as a hotbed of prostitution.”

Kwon-Heui Hong konihong@donga.com