SEOUL, June 20 (Korea Bizwire) — One out of 10 teenagers in South Korea has experienced a form of sexual inducement online, such as being asked to provide a video of their body, over the past three years, a poll showed Saturday, indicating many youths are vulnerable to sexual exploitation.
In the survey of 6,423 middle and high school students nationwide, conducted by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family between May and November last year, 11.1 percent said they had experienced sexual inducement against their will in cyberspace from August 2016 to July last year.
As for unwanted inducements requested online, 9.3 percent cited conversation about sexual matters, followed by conversation about sexual information (3.3 percent), photos and videos of their body (2.4 percent) and a mix of video chatting and sexual acts (1.6 percent), the poll found.
It also found 2.7 percent of the polled teenagers were asked to meet with offenders offline or actually had a face-to-face meeting.
The largest percentage of the respondents, at 28.1 percent, said they experienced such sexual exploitation through instant messaging services, such as KakaoTalk and Facebook Messenger.
Another 27.8 percent pointed the finger at social networking services, including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, trailed by internet games (14.3 percent) and random chatting (13.7 percent).
Asked about relationships with sex offenders, 76.9 percent said they were strangers met online for the first time.
More than half of the teenagers — 54 percent — said they didn’t inform anyone of their damage, while 46 percent said they let others know.
South Korea has recently been shocked by a string of sexual exploitation cases centered on Telegram group chatrooms.
Victims, including underage girls, were blackmailed into providing sexual materials, such as photos and videos, for distribution and sale to paid members of the chatrooms, prompting the government and lawmakers to toughen legal punishments for child sex offenders.
Meanwhile, nearly half of youths in crisis confided in the poll that they have experienced “conditional meetings,” which refers to offering sexual contacts in exchange for money and other favors.
In the poll of 166 youths who had visited support centers for young sexual trafficking victims or are now held in juvenile corrections facilities, 47.6 percent said they experienced conditional sexual meetings.
As for the reasons for taking part in conditional meetings, 26.9 percent cited financial need, followed by coercion (16.7 percent), absence of places to live (15.4 percent) and recommendations from friends (10.3 percent).