The commander of U.S. troops in South Korea is dropping the hammer on that country's notorious "juicy bars," which use women as sex workers who cater to U.S. troops.
Many of the women are illegally smuggled into South Korea from other countries, including the Philippines. They are treated as the property of "juicy bar" proprietors, who steal their passports and claim the women owe them money for bringing them into the country.
The women are forced to sell themselves as companions to U.S. troops, who can buy overpriced juice drinks from them. A 2002 Military Times investigation profiled a "juicy girl," who said she did not make enough money by selling drinks to pay off her debt to her bar owner, so she had to resort to charging U.S. service members for sex.
Now U.S. troops in South Korea are not allowed to pay or provide "anything of value" to employees of a bar or any other establishment to entertain them, Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, wrote in an Oct. 15 memo.
"This includes paying a fee to play darts, pool, or to engage in other entertainment with an employee, or buying a drink or souvenir in exchange for an employee's company," according to the memo, which was posted on USFK's website.
Service members who fail to comply with the policy can be punished under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the memo says. Scaparrotti wrote that he expects installation commanders to place off-limits any establishments that support prostitution and human trafficking.
"I also expect service members to respect the dignity of others at all times," Scaparrotti wrote. "Paying for companionship directly supports human trafficking and is a precursor to prostitution. This practice encourages the objectification of women, reinforces sexist attitudes, and is demeaning to all human beings."
Scaparrotti's move mirrors 7th Air Force's policy, announced last year by Air Force Lt. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas last year as part of a crackdown on "juicy bars" outside Osan Air Base, south of Seoul.
"There are some who don't see a problem with this activity, who want to keep things as they are, and who believe that they are somehow helping women trapped in this life of indentured servitude," Jouas wrote in a Sept. 5, 2013, commentary posted on 7th Air Force's website. "Let's be clear about what these proponents of human trafficking actually support: their own selfish needs, forced labor, and the modern-day equivalent of slavery."
Giving money to those who traffic in bringing women from other nations to work in bars and then confiscate their passports so they can't escape "contributes to slavery," Jouas wrote. "Providing money to those same people so the woman will spend time with you supports slavery. Buying a woman's contract does not set her free, it only encourages the slavers to bring in more women."
Read Gen. Scaparrotti's memo: