SEOUL, Jan. 22 (Korea Bizwire) — A civic Internet watchdog consisting of housewives and office workers helped take down tens of thousands of online prostitution ads last year.
Nearly 50,000 online ads promoting prostitution were taken off the internet thanks to efforts made by Seoul’s Internet Civic Watchdog, the Seoul Metropolitan Government said on Sunday.
Of the 49,321 ads found last year, 42,287 were reported to the Korea Communications Standards Commission and the Korea Internet Self-governance Organization.
Websites where ads were found, including those promoting escort services and containing adult content, will face punitive measures such forced shutdowns and blocked access.
The Seoul government also gathered further evidence of prostitution such as mobile messaging app accounts from which prostitution ads were sent, which have been forwarded to authorities.
So-called random chatting apps, which have been known as a hotbed of online prostitution despite their original intent to help build social connections, have been targeted by the watchdog, resulting in a total of 1,139 reports.
Based on the data gathered by the Seoul government-backed watchdog, another civic group ‘Watching You’ was able to report 21 separate cases of online prostitution ads to police, 13 of which saw those involved face criminal punishment.
The Seoul government is continuing the watchdog’s success last year by forming the same group consisting of new members this year.
Applications for Seoul’s eighth internet prostitution watchdog are open from January 22 to February 13, with 1,000 positions available.
Applicants must be older than 19 years of age and either live, study, or work in Seoul.
After training sessions, the annual watchdog will crack down on online prostitution from March to December.
According to a report released by the Korea Communications Standards Commission earlier this month, nearly 3 in 10 South Korean teenagers accessed illegal websites containing sexual content last year from mobile devices, the highest figure among all age groups.
Among the websites accessed via mobile phones, some were found to contain information about prostitution.
For more information, visit the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s official website or the Dasi Hamkke Center’s website.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)