9,087 Seoul citizens took part in the city government’s surveillance project to eradicate ads that promote illegal sex trade and other offensive materials, with 422,299 cases being referred to relevant ministries and authorities, resulting in 363,193 cases of bans, deletions, blocked access, and account terminations during the group’s 10-year run. Their accumulated reports, when stacked as A4 sheets, are equivalent to four 25-story buildings.
Last year, as internet use exploded amid the spread of COVID-19, the group filed reports on 68,711 cases of such infringements, leading to 61,892 reviews and investigations, resulting in 40,295 deletions, bans, and terminations. It also led to the conviction of the operator of the largest web site for prostitution recruitment and sex trade ads.
Last year’s restrictions on gatherings, stemming from the pandemic, led to a surge in ads for house-call services and “conditional dating,” a form of prostitution in which a woman poses as a “girlfriend” while men pay their salary. The largest portion of these ads, or 42,330 cases (68.4%), consisted of promotions and recruitments for house calls, massages, girlfriend stand-ins, and “conditional dating.”
The Seoul Metropolitan Government collected the watch group’s materials and used them as evidence and data for on-site inspections in cases against the perpetrators, resulting in 333 cases of administrative actions, and 202 criminal penalties and punishments amounting to 1.72 billion won in fines, charges confiscation over the last ten years.
On the back of such notable results, the city will take applications for another 1,000 Seoul residents who will take part as members of this year’s Citizens Internet Monitoring Group from February 4 to 20. The city also plans to encourage the public to take part in closely monitoring illegal sex-trade web sites and messages through its anti-sex-trade platform (http://gamsi.dasi.or.kr).
“We were able to keep up with and ferret out these ever-evolving ads and recruitment on sextrade thanks to the dedication and hard work of our monitoring group over the past 10 years,” said Song Da-young, Deputy Mayor for Women & Family Policy Affairs. “We will continue to be aggressive by enlisting even more members this year, providing them with sound training, education and promotion to encourage their active participation.”