As I noted in this post, the Hankyoreh has been translating a series of its articles about prostitution among teenage runaways, and several more have been added:
Part 1: Runaways flee abuse at home, end up in prostitution
Part 2: The lives of female runaways in Seoul
Part 3: Runaways' prostitution
Part 4: Runaways live with the pain of rape
Part 5: The exploitation of teen runaways
Al Jazeera also reported on this topic.
All of the articles are worth reading; Al Jazeera's starts out with a correction stating that it "first published this story quoting an estimation by a coalition of
women’s groups that there are 1.2 million women in the sex trade in
South Korea, and that 20 per cent of all South Korean women aged 15-29
were involved in prostitution. However, these NGO figures are not
supported by any official data and are impossible to verify."
It's hard to know what the figures are (1 million was thrown around in reports before the 1988 Olympics), though 20% in the 15-29 age bracket seems too high - unless, according to this report, you happen to be a North Korean defector ("More than 30 percent of women from the North turned to prostitution as
they tried to settle in the South, according to one study"). On the other hand, one study in 2008 found that one in every three female secondary school students in Busan had received sex trade proposals while chatting online, and 6.5% of the respondents said they had sold sex. So while 20% is too high, the actual percentage is still likely to be an uncomfortable figure.
Needless to say, with the first hand accounts in the articles, they're a pretty depressing read.