South Korea’s E-6 Entertainment Visa Traps Foreign Women In Sex Industry

Recently, news reports of Korean & foreign women being raped or murdered have thrust South Korea into the international spotlight. But, another crime affecting females (that also affects males to a lesser extent) is sex trafficking. Korea FM recently spoke with Taina Bien-Aimé, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, & James Pond, global director of survivor care for Hope For Justice, to learn more about South Korea’s E-6 visa program that is used to lure young women as hotel or entertainment employees before being pressured or forced into sex work.

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 Interview answers, both in written & audio form, have been edited for length & clarity.








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One comment

  1. A few notes about this podcast:

    1. If people are “lured” to another country and then “pressured or forced into prostitution”, they are not usually described as sex workers but as trafficked persons who are being (commercially) sexually exploited.

    2. Taina Bien-Aimé is a staunch anti-prostitution activist who persistently and intentionally conflates consensual adult sex work with human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, and while she is certainly entitled to her opinion, hers is a position that’s opposed by many stakeholders, incl. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the ILO, several UN agencies, the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women and of course sex workers themselves and sex worker-led organisations from around the world, incl. South Korea.

    3. Cases as the ones described where people are deceived and then forced to sell sex do occur but Taina Bien-Aimé doesn’t acknowledge that there are people who willingly migrate, fully aware that they will sell sexual services in their respective destination countries. And since that is illegal in South Korea, they do have to use other visa types.

    4. Credit to Taina Bien-Aimé for pointing out that people selling sex – or as she put it “are bought and sold” – should not be criminalised but the way forward is to fully decriminalise sex work and not, as she suggested, to introduce the Swedish Model. Amnesty International’s “Q&A on the Policy to Protect Human Rights of Sex Workers” is a good primer for anyone interested.


    Korean: 국제앰네스티, 성노동자 인권 보호를 위한 정책 채택

    5. I wasn’t aware of Hope for Justice before but generally speaking, whenever human trafficking experts focus primarily on sexual exploitation and make generalising claims, I’d treat those claims with extreme care as they are rarely based on credible, peer-reviewed research. Credit to them, though, for linking to data from the International Labour Organisation on their website. While only an estimate, the ILO’s 2012 report on forced labour is a useful read.

    ILO 2012 Global Estimate of Forced Labour | Press release with links to full report–en/index.htm

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