North Korea, Illegal Sex Trafficking Prevention

Recently, it has been made known that sealed or closed-off rooms in up-scale restaurants and popular “karaokes” in North Korean provincial cities have been removed.

Since 2000, sex trafficking has rapidly increased at inns, saunas, spas, and karaoke bars in large provincial cities such as Shinuiju, Chongjin, and Hamheung.

In particular, corrupt businesses such as massage parlors and steam baths with the purpose of sex trafficking have proliferated, increasing incidents of solicitations in front of large-city stations and metaphoric advertisements, such as “flower” and “bed sales.”

Good Friends has released on the September Newsletter that after creating rooms in the basement of a restaurant in Wonsan, Kangwon Province and organizing young girls for prostitution and the owner of the restaurant and affiliates received maximum punishment such as the death penalty for forcing sexual trafficking.

After inspections and punishment, an inside source relayed that an order came down preventing operations of illicit rooms by karaoke and entertainment venues. Karaokes removed entrance and exit doors and restaurants enforced the opening of doors of each room. Due to such management, the number of guests has greatly decreased.

North Korean businessman Mr. Park, who is residing in Dandong, China, said in a phone conversation with DailyNK, “Most sealed or closed-off rooms in restaurants or karaoke bars of large provincial cities such as Shinuiju and Hamheung have mostly disappeared.”

Mr. Park said, “I would often use sealed rooms because I could talk about business and entertain guests while not worrying about the eyes of others. However, recently, the government gave an order to get rid of these rooms due to prostitution.”

Further, he said, “Field security agents are checking up on internal facilities by making rounds at restaurants and karaokes. If sealed-off or blocked-off rooms are still reported, the business has to be shut down and the owner is taken to the Security Agency.”

He said, “People who have money nowadays seek out upper-scale restaurants for sharing important businesses. The presence of female entertainers elevates the atmosphere, but in some cases, the women are forced to ‘serve’ them.”

However, Mr. Park said, “Even if the government gets rid of sealed rooms and dividers, it is difficult to remove the root of the problem because women want to continue making money, and such “popular” spots have already become established as a means of doing so.

Mr. Park also said, “In Shinuiju alone, sex trafficking is known to have spread significantly. Women who are sold have separately rented rooms and receive 10,000 won ($3.30) per night.”

A Chinese businessman Lio Jilong confirmed these details. He, who frequents Shinuiju for trade with North Korea, said, “Even when I went to Shinuiju at the end of August, restaurants with special (sealed-off) rooms and dividers were common, but they have all disappeared by now.”

He also expressed discontent, “With the exception of restaurants and karaokes, there are no places where one can discuss business; other restaurants have been harmed by prostitution in Chosun (North Korea).”

The North Korean government sent “first-offender” women engaging in prostitution to a “labor detention facility” for six months at the discretion of the security agency and “repeat-offenders” were punished to the second-degree by being sentenced to over a year.

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