South Korea Security Threats

Data and information about security threats from South Korea’s black market. Intelligence and security information collected from government agencies, news articles and other public data sources.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency broke up a criminal ring that was selling counterfeit erectile dysfunction drugs in the country. The ring would buy fake Viagra from producers in China for $0.06 (70 South Korean Won) per tablet.  They would then resell the counterfeit drugs to men in South Korea for $0.81 to $0.90 (900 to 1,000 Won) per tablet.

The price of legitimate Viagra made by Pfizer and sold at pharmacies in South Korea normally cost between $16.15 to $17.94 (18,000 Won to 20,000 Won) per tablet.

(Additional under the table and illegal income earnings.)

Source:  Yonhap, “Nine nabbed for smuggling fake Viagra from China,” Yonhap News, May 15, 2013.

The Korea Customs Service reported that it seized $1.79 Billion (1.89 Trillion Won) from currency related crimes between January to September 2012. Included in that amount was assets that Korean citizens were attempting to stash in foreign countries to evade taxes.

The amount of total currency crimes seized by Customs was 68 percent higher than the previous year.

Source:  “Customs agency to toughen clampdown on offshore tax evasion,” Yonhap News, January 16, 2013.

In December 2012, South Korean company Hyundai Heavy Industries reportedly paid $192,100 in ransom to release six workers who had been kidnapped and held hostage.

The leader of the kidnapping gang told the police that he used his share of the ransom to purchase electronic devices such as DVD players.

Kidnapping for ransom is a highly profitable activity for criminal gangs in the Niger Delta.

Source:  Isaac Abrak, “Nigerian police say Hyundai paid some $190,000 for hostages,” Reuters, January 4, 2013.


According to a survey by the Ministry of Gender Equality & Family, there are 147,000 women working as prostitutes in South Korea. These women work at 44,804 establishments that have been identified as providing sex services.

Women’s rights group in South Korea state that the number is far too low and does not adequately count the number of women in the sex trade.

(Number of prostitutes by country.)

Source:  Jennifer Chang, “South Korea’s runaway teen prostitution,” Al Jazeera, November 12, 2012.

Note: In a previous post, Havocscope listed the number of prostitutes in South Korea as 1.2 Million. That figure was taken from the same article listed above. However, Al Jazerra pulled the figure from its article.

The original article was posted on November 7, 2012. It can still be accessed here. In that original version was this quote: “An estimated 1.2 million women are believed involved in the business – or about 20 per cent of all South Korean women aged 15-29.  ”

On November 12, 2012, the publisher of that story, Al Jazeera, removed the statistic from the story. In an updated version, Al Jazeera stated “these NGO figures are not supported by any official data and are impossible to verify. We have removed those statistics as we believe they are not reliable.”

Havocscope has thus updated this post based on an email informing us of the change.

Updated: October 26, 2013.

There are an estimated 200,000 minors in South Korea who have runaway from home. 60 percent of these youths are females.

In a survey conducted by the South Korean government, nearly half of the runaways surveyed have worked as an underage prostitute.

One 14 year old girl was quoted as saying that she charged $275 to an older man to have sex with him. She advertised herself on a popular online forum where she met the man.

(Prostitution prices on the black market.)

Source:  Jennifer Chang, “South Korea’s runaway teen prostitution,” Al Jazeera, November 7, 2012.

Additional prostitution stats and prices available in our ebook:

Police in the southern Seoul district of Gangnam broke up a prostitution ring that were operating out of studio apartments in the district.

Out of 24 different brothel locations, each South Korean prostitute serviced up to 65 customers per day. The customers each paid $117 (130,000 South Korean Won) for sex with the prostitute.

(More prostitution prices here)

Source:  Yi Whan-woo, “Police bust prostitution ring in southern Seoul,” Korea Times, October 4, 2012.

Additional prostitution stats and prices available in our ebook:

There are at least 1,000 Asiatic Black Bears in South Korea that are farmed for their bear bile. In China, there are a reported 12,000 bears that are farmed for their bile.

30 percent of South Korean tourists who visit China purchase bear bile products and bring it back to their home country. This act is a violation of international trade laws.

See more on how farmers extract bear bile.

Source:  John R. Platt, “Bear Bile Industry Reportedly Shrinking in South Korea, but Chinese Market Stays Strong,” Scientific American, Blog, July 24, 2012.

In 2011, a reported 2,706 North Koreans defected from the country and entered South Korea.

Between January and March 2012, there were 366 North Korean defectors. Between April and June 2012, there were 385 defections.

After the death of Kin Jong Il, the number of defections dropped by 42 percent in the first half of 2012. South Korean officials attribute the drop in defections to increased security. The crackdown on defections have caused the price to bribe a border guard to increase. In 2012, the cost of a bribe was reported to be $6,000, compared to $1,000 a few years ago.

It was previously reported that it costs a defector up to $7,000 to smuggle a person from North  Korea into China and eventually South Korea.

Source:  Chico Harlan, “With crackdown, N. Korea puts a hold on defectors,” Washington Post, July 20, 2012.

There are an estimated 50,000 women from South Korea working in the sex trade in Japan. In the United States, there are an estimated 30,000 South Korean prostitutes.

Media reports state that the number of Korean prostitutes in Japan was caused by a 2004 crackdown on the sex trade in South Korea, thus sending women to Japan. With the increase in South Korean prostitutes, the prices for sex has reportedly gone down.

In 2012, it was reported that men were paying around $125 (10,000 Japanese Yen) to have sex with prostitutes for a 60 minute session. Previously, the rate was $187 (15,000 Yen) per hour.

(See more prostitution prices from around the world here)

Source: Kazutaka Shimanaka, “Enough Korean hookers in Japan to fill a stadium,” Tokyo Reporter, May 30, 2012.

Additional prostitution stats and prices available in our ebook:

Every year, North Korean defectors living in South Korea send an estimated $10 Million to family and villages in North Korea. The 23,000 defectors send the money is bundles of $500 to $1,000 at  a time. The amount of the bundles are enough to feed a family for one year in North Korea.

Source: Chico Harlan, “In North Korea, role of foreign currency grows,” Washington Post, February 15, 2012.