Korea Must Counter Foreign Reports on Child Prostitution
Moon Gwang-lip says foreign reports on human trafficking is distorted, exaggerated
The Korea Times
Wednesday, September 8, 2004
By Moon Gwang-lip
South Korea should conduct comprehensive research on the present condition of child prostitution in the nation in order to prevent distorted or exaggerated foreign reports on the problem, a visiting Dutch legal expert on human trafficking said.
"Research should be implemented as soon as possible on a national level to prevent distorted news articles on the South Korean sex industry from spreading," Anna Korvinus, Dutch rapporteur on trafficking in human beings, told The Korea Times on Tuesday.
The Dutch prosecutor came to Seoul to participate in the annual conference of the International Association of Prosecutors.
Her advice came amid misleading comments and articles overseas about the situation of child prostitution in Korea.
In July, Lawrence Summers, president of Harvard University, wrongly stated in a lecture in the United States that there were one million child prostitutes in Seoul in the 1970s. After protests, he apologized to the Korean people for his comments, admitting the figure was incorrect.
Last month, the Washington Post sparked controversy here by falsely reporting there were currently half a million child prostitutes in Korea.
Korvinus said, "The matter is not the number itself. The situation of children being exploited in the sex industry is a huge problem. In that sense, the Korean government should come up with solutions, not just protest against the reports."
She advised the Korean government to streamline related laws on human trafficking and the sex trade in accordance with international standards.
"I read in some reports that among the human traffickers, there is a complaint of a lack of South Korean women," Korvinus said. "It’s crazy. The Korean government should be aware of the danger of the transnational crime and prepare measures to protect Korean women from possible tragedy."
Korvinus said Korea should adopt the principles of the U.N. convention on transnational organized crime in its law as part of efforts to effectively tackle sex crime. She added that every nation should have a common legal standard.
"Actually, the Korean government is taking a good approach on human trafficking,” she said. “It installed an intra-government task force in 2001, which has implemented a comprehensive set of policies to prevent the crime. However, now is the time for the Korean government to tackle the problem not just by itself, but also through international cooperation. And conducting solid research on the matter would be the first step."
As human and sex trafficking is a problem that transcends borders, every country should exchange information with others to tackle the problem on an international level, she asserted.
“What I suggest to each nation is to set up a government organization or group of people responsible for the intra-national exchanging of information on human trafficking,’’ Korvinus said. “It is more needed now that we have common goals and minors should not be victimized in the sex industry.”
Date Posted: 9/8/2004