South Korean Authorities Clampdown On Some 24,000 Prostitutes, Pimps, Client...

South Korean authorities caught nearly 24,000 prostitutes, pimps or clients in a two-month crackdown on the sex trade, the National Police Agency said last week.

Most the 23,626 caught -- of which about 19,900 were clients -- were fined, an officer at the anti-prostitution bureau told AFP, while 32 people accused of more serious offences were formally arrested and detained pending trial, the agency said.

Clients faced a maximum fine of three million won (3,315 dollars) and brothel owners up to 10 years in jail or 100 million won in fines.

"It was our third special crackdown on prostitution this year. The next one will begin in late December," the officer said of the latest operation, which began in August.

It was one of a series of police crackdowns since a new anti-prostitution law with tougher penalties was passed in 2004. Last year alone 35,000 clients were prosecuted.

The anti-prostitution drive has resulted in a sharp increase in incidents of South Koreans involved in the foreign sex trade. The government plans to revise the law to punish citizens caught buying sex abroad.

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