Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Praying for Brothels to Shut Down

Something that foreigners find surprising about Korea is that there are so many brothels here. Prostitution became illegal over a decade ago but the government does little to close down this multi-million (perhaps billion) dollar business. Many brothels have gone underground but they are still conspicuously advertised. They can be found in Shillim and Itaewon, where my church campuses are located, Gangnam, Yongsan, Gongdeok,... everywhere.

Although many brothels have gone underground, there are still a few areas where open and public red light districts exist. I remember in 1998 (visiting Korea as a college student before prostitution was made illegal) driving through an area of Seoul with my uncle and cousins and being shocked as we made a wrong turn into a red light district that was half a mile long!

Praying to End the Enslavement of Girls
One of the "open" red light districts still around is located near "Young Deung Po" station. Over the past 4 years my church, New Philadelphia, has been praying relentlessly that these red light districts would close down and be replaced by family friendly businesses (so that it also effectively ends pimps preying on and enslaving Korean girls). I have often shared the testimony of NYC's 42nd Street transformation. How as the churches in that area prayed in the late 90s, the peep shows and XXX video shops closed down and were replaced by Disney stores in a matter of a couple years.

One of my church leaders who leads a ministry called "Unearthed" regularly leads prayer walks through red light districts of Korea (and Asia). They step over these properties, claiming Christ's dominion over them. They even occasionally speak with the working ladies, pimps, policemen, and customers, gaining insight into praying more effectively or ministering to them.

The Breakthrough
A few weeks ago, a few church leaders felt led to do a prayer walk through the Young Deung Po red light district. They prayed and they spoke with local policemen inquiring why more wasn't being done to crack down on the "open and public" brothels (it's something "Unearthed" has done several times before).

Over this past weekend, some of the leaders noticed that the brothels were being patrolled by police, preventing customers from going in. The fact that the police decided to do something about it was a huge answered prayer. My leaders posted up facebook posts celebrating the victory.

Public Protests
The brothels fired back by posting up huge banners in protest against the crackdown. Yesterday, the protests escalated into a public demonstration where 400 brothel workers took to the streets and marched upon the nearby Times Square Mall. Some even attempted to cover themselves in flammable liquid and burn themselves alive before onlookers stopped them. Although we rejoice in the answered prayer, our hearts break for the brothel girls and the hopelessness they find themselves in.

Who's Truly Responsible for This?
"The sex workers accuse a nearby department store of pushing police to take such measures. Police deny the claim." -AP

I'm not sure if the above accusation is true but one thing is for sure, the police were definitely being consistently "pushed" by a bunch of praying foreigners demanding the shutdown of these brothels. When it comes down to it, we believe that God is ultimately responsible for the new measures. Unfortunately for the girls in these brothels, many of them have nowhere to turn to. Because of the "shame stronghold" on Korea's culture, they would never think of returning to their families for help. Also, the pimps have a systematic way of threatening family members so these girls have nowhere to go.

My prayer is that safehouses will be setup for these girls to find refuge in and get a new beginning. But I won't be surprised if nothing is done about it by the Korean gov't. The protests from yesterday were nowhere to be found in any of the major Korean media outlets as it's something Koreans would rather ignore than confront.

Nevertheless, we are continuing to pray to disallow all forms of human trafficking and prostitution in Korea. We hope you join us as various ministries highlight and expose the magnitude of modern day slavery.

1 comment:

  1. hey pastor christian,

    i hope you remember me, this is joe lim from fuller, i visited last year and now i'm in ecuador.

    i love how you guys are praying for the women. they need prayer, and who else than the church to pray for them? and yes! let God move mountains to bring justice for these women, and that human trafficking would see its end through God working in you and your church!

    on a side note, i found out that some women are driven into enslavement by external forces and some choose to because of a series of decisions made because they were looking for easy money and a way to support their spending habits gone wild.

    as far as i've been reading up on the sex market of korea, ever since prostitution has been banned, the police has been closing down the red light districts area by area.. but sadly statistics say that with the closing of red light districts, a balloon effect is taking place: a great increase in sexual molestation and rape in the country.. also, those who used to work in the districts now do the same thing in the dark--usually renting "officetels" and such.. what's dangerous about this is that now everyone involved in the act is in greater danger of STDs, which eventually will be trasmitted to their spouses..

    i hope this doesn't discourage any of you. rather, it should be our reason for even more action guided by prayer, specifically for the women and from there for the nation.. please pray that the spiritual stronghold of addiction, greed and lust will be replaced by a right valueing of self, self-control, freedom and love. please also pray for more Korean Christians to take a mighty stand against its culture--where they need to risk their business relationships (and consequently their job) by not joining practically everyone else in visiting these places. And for the Korean culture, that God would work out salvation for the culture and put in reverse the vicious cycle that continues to feed the need for adultery and sexual immorality in the country.

    i hope you are well. and i hope i will get a chance to visit you when i get back to korea for a short time next year. i look forward to keep hearing great news from and about your church, pastor christian!

    for his kingdom,

    joe lim