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Seoul civic group uncovers record number of prostitution ads last year

National 15:40 February 08, 2022

SEOUL, Feb. 8 (Yonhap) -- A civic online monitoring group supported by the Seoul city government caught a record high number of almost 110,000 sex trafficking advertisements last year, the government said Tuesday.

A total of 108,594 online advertisements enticing prostitution were uncovered by the Internet Citizens' Monitoring Group in 2021, marking the biggest crackdown since the establishment of the civic group in 2011, the government said.

This file photo provided by the Seoul city government shows a launch ceremony of the Internet Citizens' Monitoring Group. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Of the total, there were 101,135 cases of illegal online information being deleted, having access to it banned or terminated from use after being reported to the Korea Communications Standards Commission, the Korea Internet Self-Governance Organization and online business operators, it noted.

The numbers of prostitution ad detections and reports were the highest since the Seoul city government inaugurated the civic monitoring group about a decade ago to eradicate the illegal sex industry. The number of reported cases increased by 1.6 times from 61,892 cases in 2020.

"Such an accomplishment may have been achieved as citizens spent more time at home due to the prolonged COVID-19 crisis and increased interest and participation in non-face-to-face and online activities," a city government official said.

The government said social media advertising accounted for 92,073 cases, or 91 percent of last year's reported cases, followed by random chat apps (4,951 cases, 4.9 percent), internet sites (3,882 cases, 3.8 percent) and mobile messengers (229 cases, 0.2 percent).

By type of illegal information, on-call massage services and compensated dating accounted for 77,268 cases, or 76.4 percent, followed by ads hinting at prostitution with words or contact information (22,370 cases, or 22.1 percent) and illegal pornography with no limited access to teenagers (1,497 cases, or 1.5 percent), it said.

The city government said it plans to recruit 1,000 new citizens who will work for the monitoring group this year on a first-come, first-serve basis by Feb. 22.


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