Korean sex traffickers were detained on charges of luring Japanese tourists at a popular shopping district in Seoul and leading them to brothels, police said Thursday.
The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said they apprehended 27 brokers of a sex trafficking group called "Myeongdong Alpine Club" and requested arrest warrants for five of the members, including its 58-year-old ringleader surnamed Kim.
The name of the club refers to the eponymous district located in central Seoul, a major tourist attraction where millions of foreigners visit every year.
The manager of the brothel and 10 employees as well as 14 female sex workers were booked without physical detention, the police said. Fifteen Japanese tourists were also booked without detention on charges of soliciting prostitution.
The brokers allegedly formed the club in August 2010 mainly as a means to block competitors from taking away customers, and in groups, they looked for potential customers on streets most frequented by Japanese tourists, according to the police.
The club members are suspected of pocketing some 2.5 billion won ($2.22 million) in total after receiving 100,000 won from the brothels for every customer they brought in, the police added.
A crackdown on the business had been difficult, the police said, as the brokers took taxis to lead tourists to sex trade establishments in other areas of the city, and afterwards brought them back to their hotels.
The police said they are currently searching for additional members of the club as well as more brothels that provided sex services, and an investigation will be launched to seek out other such trafficking groups. (Yonhap)