By Youngbee Dale
The San Francisco Chronicle reported the story of You Mi Kim, a woman from South Korea forced into prostitution in the United States to pay off her $40,000 credit card debt. To pay off her heavy debt, she worked in a massage parlor that was actually a brothel, serving dozens of men in downtown Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Since the Chronicle broke the story, US authorities have focused on prostitution at local massage parlors, but have failed to address the root causes behind the proliferation of sex trafficking of South Korean women.
South Korea is one of the major countries where sex trafficking victims in the U.S. originate. According to the US Attorney General in 2006, South Koreans accounted the highest population (24%) of sex trafficking victims in the U.S. followed by Thailand (11.7%), and Peru (10%),. The U.S. Trafficking in Persons report categorized South Korea as a Tier 1 country in the same year.
American authorities are well aware of the problem of South Korean women trafficked to the U.S. and other developed countries. The Trafficking in Persons report in 2011 noted the problem and recommended South Korea to implement a comprehensive anti-trafficking law.