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Maybe you do but most people would be surprised to learn that, despite censorship and regulation, the sex industry of this East Asian country is worth many millions of dollars. From erotic massage to tolerated often encouraged prostitution and underground porn markets, South Korea has an active sex market. Known more for its heavily militarized borders with its neighbors, in this guide we lift the lid on the sex industry of South Korea to explore its culture, attitudes and famous red light districts.
A largely westernized and democratic country, South Korea has a diverse mixture of cultural and traditional influences combined with a modern and youthful society. As a result, the attitudes towards sex in South Korea can seem contradictory. The older generation has a healthy attitude towards sex but is still influenced by traditional values including the inviolability of marriage; adultery was punishable with up to two years in prison as recently as Modern women in Korean society still feel the discriminatory influences of a heavily patriarchal tradition though this is changing.
As in many Western countries, the younger generation has more of an open-mind towards sex and sexuality and, despite internet censorship on nudity and obscenity, has been more exposed to sexual content. Well, government reports suggest that up to a quarter of a million sex workers operate in South Korea across almost a thousand of brothels in over forty red light districts. A good deal of business is generated internally with many business deals being conducted in the confines of neon-lit parlors or erotic karaoke bars.
Known as yadong , this is predominantly amateur footage of South Koreans but is very popular locally because it is so rare. Most Korean men are still circumcised and home-grown porn of this nature is in demand. As a result of the legal ban on producing high-quality, professional pornography, most of the market is filled with foreign media. It is also illegal in South Korea to view pornography online and attempts to do so result in a site being blocked with auto-redirection to a government gateway warning about government regulations.
This censorship has led to a black market of pornography and many users cloaking their IP addresses in an attempt to access online sex media. The largest market for pornography is from Japan and not just for the guys. A slightly less hardcore market, the appetite seems to be for Yaoi, adult comics with a sexual content. Korean women prefer their porn animated. Image via Flickr. Culturally, with almost one in four men and one in fifty women losing their virginity to a professional, little the government can do seems to affect the numbers of prostitutes in South Korea.