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The sex trade involved some 94 million transactions in , down from million in The amount of money traded for prostitution was over 14 trillion won, much less than 24 trillion won in Before the modernization of Korea, there were no brothels , but a caste of the women for the elite landholding classes performed sexual labor.
This was the result of negotiation between the Korean government and the US military, involving prostitution for United States soldiers in camp towns surrounding the US military bases. The government registered the prostitutes, who were called Western princesses , and required them to carry medical certification.
The US military police provided for the security in these US camp town prostitution sites, and detained the prostitutes who were thought to be ill, to prevent epidemics of sexually transmitted diseases.
This government involvement was in the past motivated in part by fears that the American military, which protected South Korea from North Korea , would leave.
In , the Korean Ministry of Gender Equality announced that , women—1 of 25 of young Korean women—may be engaged in the sex industry.