Koreans Flocking to Internet to Buy Sex

South Koreans are increasingly turning to the Internet and mobile phones to buy sex following a tougher anti-prostitution law in 2004 targeting brothels.

Major red-light districts throughout South Korea dropped 42 percent since 2004 to 992 this year, according to National Police Agency records released by a legislative office.

But the number of alternative locations where sex can be bought — karaoke bars, barber shops and massage parlors — increased 26 percent to 139,273 during that period, the records showed.

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In a news release, the office of Ahn Myoung-ock, a member of the National Assembly's health and welfare committee, said the Internet and mobile phones are emerging as key conduits for prostitution.

The office cited data by the state-run Korea Internet Safety Commission showing it received reports that 11,724 Web sites and mobile phone content operators were arranging prostitution as of this past June, more than quadruple the 2,680 in 2005.

The commission didn't provide figures for prior years.

The office said sex Web sites are posting prices and services along with photographs.

"In particular, female university students are looking for easy, convenient part-time jobs through these sites, but the oversight over these sites has been insufficient," the office said in a statement.

Prostitution is illegal in South Korea, and the 2004 law imposed tougher punishment on human traffickers, pimps and others involved in prostitution.