Korean Law Demystified!

Definition of ‘Prostitution’ in South Korea


Recently here in South Korea, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded an appellate court decision which had found an actress guilty of prostitution. The trial and appellate courts had found her guilty, but the Supreme Court saw otherwise. In the Court’s view, she was innocent.

The actress was indicted in December 2013 after evidence surfaced that (in 2010) she had had sexual intercourse 3 times with a businessman and received money from him on 3 separate occasions totaling 50 mil won. Originally, she was summarily indicted which means her name need not have been made public. But in January 2014, she instead asked for a formal trial (and that’s how the whole thing became public.) The trial and appellate courts both found her guilty and fined her 2 mil won. So why did the Supreme Court see otherwise?

In a nutshell, the Supreme Court saw the nature of the relationship differently. Yes, she did receive the money and have sex with him, but the Court felt there was indeed a possibility that (at the time) she had in mind a serious relationship. Separated from her then-husband, she had asked people whether the businessman would potentially make a good (new) husband. Also, their meetups did not always involve sex. In the Court’s view, it was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt she was looking to offer sex to just any rich guy (i.e., an unspecified person).

One of my favorite American TV shows from the 80s is 21 Jump Street starring Johnny Depp. The show is about baby-faced undercover cops fighting crime in schools. This case somehow reminded me an episode from that show. It was an episode called “Bad Influence” from Season 1. In the episode, undercover cops infiltrate a high school in order to investigate whether a student is prostituting herself. Below is a dialogue between a female undercover cop and the student prostitute:

Officer Judy Hoffs: Lauren, I know there’s no house in Connecticut, no horse, no father. I know what you’re doing.

Lauren Carlson: Let me tell you something. What I do is no different to what every other woman winds up doing.

Officer Judy Hoffs: It’s a lot different. Most women don’t sell their bodies, Lauren.

Lauren Carlson: Like heck they don’t! They just sell it for high priced dinners, theater tickets, mink coat, and maybe even a wedding ring. All I’m doing is taking mine upfront, and in cash.

FYI: “Pseudo-sexual intercourse” refers to oral/anal sex, handjobs, etc.

Thanks for reading!

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