The Republic of Korea has threatened massive reprisals against Korean nationals involved in pr-stitution in Australia including the cancellation of their passports and throwing them in jail for up to a year if they get caught, while s-x traffickers face up to 10 years in jail. This announcement comes after a stream of reports of dodgy Asian br-thels and s-x trafficking seemingly going unchecked in Australia.

The Korean government is concerned about the growing involvement of Korean nationals in the s-x industry in Australia evidenced by an upwards trend in recent statistics that show  foreigners account for about 25% of the 23,000 s-x workers in Australia with 16.9% of them Koreans.

Two weeks ago their foreign ministry dispatched Moon Hayong, the special ambassador for overseas Koreans and consular affairs, Canberra.  He met with Gillian Bird, deputy secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and her colleague, Patrick Suckling, the first assistant secretary as well as senior officers from the Australian Federal Police.

An official from the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade told Crikey: “In accordance to Korean law which regulates pr-stitution, such men or women involved will be subject to imprisonment up to a year. Once factual evidence is secured, the Korean government will consider such actions as cancellation of their passports and their compulsory return to Korea. In that case, they would be prohibited from leaving Korea for a period of three years.”

Korea and Australia are celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations between the countries this year and share the view that human s-x trafficking and debt bondage constitute crimes under both country’s laws. They agreed to establish information sharing and co-operation mechanisms among police headquarters, embassies, consulate-generals with a view to eradicating such crimes.

“The Korean government maintains firm policy to eradicate pr-stitution, s-x-related human trafficking and debt bondage, and will do its utmost to root out such crimes irrespective of the fact that any Korean national involved is in Korea or stays overseas,” the Korean ministry official said.

In Melbourne and Sydney there is a demand for Korean pr-stitutes because they are considered subservient and willing to do anything. There are at least four br-thels in Sydney that specialise in providing Korean women to men who gladly part with their cash. The Aqua br-thel  at Artarmon on Sydney’s leafy north shore attracts many punters with its website advertising: “16 new arrivals. All young pretty girls from Korea wanna be your s-xy girlfriend. Include every service you want with NO extra charge.”

Last week, Brendan O’Connor, the Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, released for public comment draft legislation to combat people trafficking and slavery. The bill will introduce new offences for forced labour, persons harbouring or receiving a victim of trafficking or slavery and forced marriage while extending the application of the existing offences of deceptive recruiting and s-xual servitude so they apply to non-s-xual servitude and all forms of deceptive recruiting.

“Information provided by law enforcement agencies shows that increasing numbers of people are being trafficked into a variety of industries, not just the s-x industry,” O’Connor said.

This follows last month’s announcement by Immigration Minister Chris Bowen that he would be targeting s-x industry links to Australia’s student visa program.

In recent weeks Immigration and the Australian Federal Police have conducted joint raids on six Sydney brothels probing compliance with Australia’s visa program. A department spokesperson told Crikey: “The result of this compliance activity was we found two people who did not hold a visa and another three were in breach of their visa conditions.” The spokesman would not reveal whether the brothels were Asian owned.