As reported over the past five years, the ROK is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. South Korean women are subjected to forced prostitution in South Korea and abroad. Some South Korean women enter destination countries on tourist, work, or student visas and are forced into prostitution in massage parlors, salons, bars, restaurants, or through internet-advertised escort services. Victims who owe debts to entertainment establishment owners or loan sharks are forced into prostitution. Some physically or intellectually disabled South Korean men are vulnerable to exploitation and have been forced to work on salt and cattle farms where they experience verbal and physical abuse, non-payment of wages, long work hours, and poor working and living conditions. Traffickers utilize smartphone applications to exploit victims, and South Korean children are vulnerable to sex trafficking through online recruitment. In need of money for living expenses and shelter, some runaway girls are subjected to sex trafficking.
Men and women from China, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, and other countries in Asia, the Middle East, and South America are subjected to forced labor in South Korea and on fishing vessels registered and operated by South Koreans; some women from these regions are subjected to forced prostitution. Migrant workers, especially those from Vietnam, China, and Indonesia, can incur thousands of dollars in debt, contributing to their vulnerability to debt bondage. Approximately 400,000 low-skilled migrant workers, many employed under the government’s employment permit system, work in fishing, agriculture, livestock, restaurants, and manufacturing; some of these workers face conditions indicative of forced labor. The ROK is a transit point for Southeast Asian fishermen subjected to forced labor on fishing ships bound for Fiji and other ports in the Pacific. Foreign fishermen aboard small fishing vessels operating beyond the purview of the government or owners’ cooperatives are vulnerable to exploitation, including forced labor. Some foreign women on E6-2 entertainment visas—mostly from the Philippines, China, and Kyrgyzstan—are subjected to forced prostitution in entertainment establishments near ports and U.S. military bases. Some women from China, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, and Cambodia, who are recruited for marriage to South Korean men through international marriage brokers, are subjected to forced prostitution or forced labor after their arrival. Some South Korean men engage in child sex tourism in Vietnam, Cambodia, Mongolia, and the Philippines.