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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Former Deputy Senate Speaker Chalerm Promlert, Five Years Jail Term Upheld

The Supreme Court upheld a 36-year jail term given to former deputy Senate speaker Chalerm Promlert, five years after he was accused of having sex with underage girls.

The court found Chalerm, 71, guilty of sexually abusing four girls under the age of 15 between Nov 23, 2000 and Jan 3, 2001.

It upheld the Appeal Court's decision in January this year, which added 20 years to the 16-year sentence the lower court gave Chalerm.

The court said he should be punished more severely because he broke the law while he was a senator.

''The defendant was well aware that what he did was a serious crime,'' the court said.

The former deputy governor of Surat Thani, who had been free on bail of 2.5 million baht pending his final appeal to the Supreme Court, acknowledged the verdict with a pale face.

Police then escorted him to Pathum Thani jail.

Many of Chalerm's relatives, but not his wife, showed up to hear the verdict at the Thanyaburi provincial court.

The mother of one of the victims, whose names were withheld, said she was glad Chalerm did not walk free and thanked all the parties for their support.

Police had charged Chalerm with statutory rape in January 2001 after two girls separately identified him in a line-up as the man who paid them to have sex with him at a motel in Pathum Thani.

Chalerm spent two days in bed with the schoolgirls, one of them aged 16, at a motel in Pathum Thani's Lam Looka district. He paid each 4,000 baht for their services.

The students, aged 13 to 16, were taken to the motel by another girl, a 17-year-old school dropout.

Sex with a girl under 15 years of age brings a charge of statutory rape.

Chalerm resigned as senator in March 2001 amid mounting pressure from fellow senators and civic groups.

The Senate voted 87 to 54 to grant him immunity, splitting it into two camps and upsetting civic groups.

The court of first instance in October 2002 dismissed Chalerm's claim that he had a medical record of receiving treatment for a sexual dysfunction.

Chalerm also said that he had work commitments the days the offences occurred, but his Mercedes was spotted outside the Phaka Inn Hotel in Pathum Thani.

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Today Is November 15th 2007

Today is Thursday, Nov. 15, the 319th day of 2007. There are 46 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Nov. 15, 1806, explorer Zebulon Pike sighted the mountaintop now known as Pikes Peak in present-day Colorado.

On this date:

In 1777, the Second Continental Congress approved the Articles of Confederation, a precursor to the Constitution of the United States.

In 1889, Brazil was proclaimed a republic as its emperor, Dom Pedro II, was overthrown.

In 1926, the National Broadcasting Co. debuted as a radio network.

In 1939, President Roosevelt laid the cornerstone of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.

In 1948, William Lyon Mackenzie King retired as prime minister of Canada after 21 years; he was succeeded by Louis St. Laurent.

In 1966, the flight of Gemini 12 ended successfully as astronauts James A. Lovell and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin Junior splashed down safely in the Atlantic.

In 1969, a quarter of a million protesters staged a peaceful demonstration in Washington against the Vietnam War.

In 1979, the British government publicly identified Sir Anthony Blunt as the "Fourth Man" of a Soviet spy ring that included Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean and Kim Philby.

In 1982, funeral services were held in Moscow's Red Square for the late Soviet President Leonid I. Brezhnev.

In 1987, 28 of 82 people aboard a Continental Airlines DC-9, including the pilot and co-pilot, were killed when the jetliner crashed seconds after taking off from Denver's Stapleton International Airport.

Ten years ago: A day after moving to halt the import of modified assault weapons, President Clinton defended the action in his weekly radio address, saying such weapons did nothing but "inspire fear and wreck deadly havoc on our streets."

Five years ago: Palestinian militants raked Israeli troops and settlers with gunfire in an ambush, killing 12 Israelis in Hebron. Hu Jintao replaced Jiang Zemin as China's Communist Party leader.

One year ago: O.J. Simpson caused an uproar with plans for a TV interview and book titled "If I Did It," in which Simpson describes how he would have committed the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman. One of four U.S. soldiers accused of raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and killing her and her family pleaded guilty at Fort Campbell, Ky. (Spec. James P. Barker, who agreed to testify against the others, was later sentenced to 90 years in prison.) Emmitt Smith was named winner of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" with his professional dance partner, Cheryl Burke.

Today's Birthdays: Judge Joseph Wapner is 88. Statesman Howard H. Baker Junior is 82. Actor Ed Asner is 78. Actor John Kerr is 76. Singer Petula Clark is 75. Comedian Jack Burns is 74. Actress Joanna Barnes is 73. Actor Sam Waterston is 67. Pop singer Frida (ABBA) is 62. Actor Bob Gunton is 62. Director-actor James Widdoes is 54. Rock singer-producer Mitch Easter is 53. Actress Beverly D'Angelo is 53. CNN anchor-reporter John Roberts is 51. "Tonight Show" bandleader Kevin Eubanks is 50. Comedian Judy Gold is 45. Rapper E-40 is 40. Actress Rachel True is 38. Country singer Jack Ingram is 37. Actor Jonny Lee Miller is 35. Actress Sydney Tamiia Poitier is 34. Christian rock musician David Carr (Third Day) is 33. Rock singer-musician Chad Kroeger is 33. Rock musician Jesse Sandoval is 33. Actress Virginie Ledoyen is 31.

Thought for Today: "To oppose something is to maintain it." — Ursula K. LeGuin, American writer.

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