A recent report by the Department of Defense concluded that US soldiers visiting brothels in South Korea may have facilitated sex trafficking in the region, the Associated Press reported. The investigation, called by 13 members of Congress in April 2002, pointed to military misperceptions that hard evidence was needed to report suspicious activities. Consequently, “commanders sometimes did not take the necessary steps to place establishments off-limits” to US soldiers and the situation was exacerbated friendly relations between military police and bar owners.
Investigator Joseph E. Schmitz detailed several recommendations to combat the situation in South Korea, including educating US troops on how to identify trafficking, improving on-base entertainment facilities, and coordinating efforts with local law enforcement, according to the Associated Press.
Since the mid 1990s, more than 5,000 women have been trafficked into South Korea for sexual services for United States servicemen, according to a September 2002 report from the International Organization for Migration. These trafficked women have typically come from the Philippines, Russia and Eastern Europe and were lured to work as prostitutes in bars frequented by US servicemen stationed in South Korea.