Police turn blind eye to prostitution at massage parlor
Police have been found not to investigate sex trafficking and prostitution at well-known massage parlors in southern Seoul recently although they received tip-offs on the sex trade and tax evasion.
They have also been alleged to ignore 112 calls ― the Korean police number, equivalent to American 911 ― regarding these services.
Sources say a 34-year-old man, identified as Park, the owner of two massage parlors, has been able to avoid prosecution due to connections with the police. He is called the second Lee Gyeong-baek, 39, owner of a hostess bar, who has been charged with bribing police officers.
According to the Korea Financial Intelligence Unit (KoFIU), Park started running massage parlors after he learned the ropes under Lee. FIU found that these businesses used the bank account of a 34-year-old employee, identified Yu as family name, to send large sums of money to ex-convicts in November 2009. FIU also found suspicious deals, which exchanged over 2 billion won.
“Large sums of money were deposited into the accounts of Park’s housemate, an ex-convict in the prostitution business and a realtor from Yu’s account,” said an FIU spokesperson, handing over hundreds of pages’ worth of information to police. “They are under suspicion for tax evasion and running prostitution businesses.”
But Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency’s Gangnam department never even called Yu in.
“At the time, the investigators closed the case because the two parlors were not in their jurisdiction and those involved refused to cooperate,” a Gangnam police officer said. “If the FIU’s tip-off had been more solid, we would have reported it to the National Tax Service or brought it to the prosecution. Thus it was difficult to prove Yu was guilty.”
The parlor’s owner changed three times before Park, but it’s never been caught in a crackdown since he took over it, according to an insider from the industry. “Someone reported about the two parlors by calling 112 in summer 2010. But after looking around, a police officer reported to his boss that everything was fine.”
He also claimed that there’s even been a case where the police told Park what the report was about. “Park could solve the problem in person with the man who tipped the case to the police with a kickback.”
“It’s not easy for a small police office to crack down on the cases although it receive a 112 call,” said an officer from Suseo Police Station. “It’s hard to tell whether or not such a case was ever reported.”
The two parlors are not on the list of the district office. “The addresses of the two parlors are not on list, nor are there any records of crackdowns or any administrative measures that were put in place there,” said a police officer from Gangnam Police Station. “There’s an allegation that Park’s businesses didn’t get busted because one of his relatives ‘has managed’ field and senior ranking officers on connections as police officers in the past.”
Park’s one parlor has become famous for introducing a “two shot” massage, where two women serve customers in turns. Park is reported to earn billions of won from his two parlors a year.