South Korean prostitutes relax in their room before attending a rally to declare 'Sex Worker's day' on June 29, 2005 in Seoul, South Korea. Prostitutes rallied against government law aimed at the sex industry. The government began enforcing new laws in 2004 to target human traffickers, pimps and prostitutes. The sex industry accounts for roughly 1.5 percent of South Korea's gross domestic product (GDP), with its annual sales estimated at $13 billion dollars in 2007.
Credit: Chung Sung-Jun

South Korean police officials said Wednesday they identified nearly 8,000 people involved in the country’s human sex trade in a recent three-month bust, the Yonhap news agency reports

The country’s National Police Agency arrested 35 of the 7,982 detected sex workers, clients and middlemen they say are involved in prostitution. About 1,000 out of those identified have been accused of arranging sex with underage people.

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Prostitution is illegal but widespread in South Korea with sex tourism to China and Southeast Asia being a continued concern, according to the U.S. State Department Human Rights Report

About 259,000 people, mostly male, have been arrested since the stricter laws on prostitution took effect in 2004, the AP reports. As a result, nearly 4,000 prostitutes have left their brothels and seven of the country’s 35 major red-light districts have disappeared.

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Not everyone supports the government’s attempt to stop prostitution.

Just earlier this year, about 400 sex workers protested against a police crackdown on brothels in Seoul’s red-light district. 

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