Broken global explorations: The lived experience of Korean women working in the entertainment and sex industries in Sydney

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Asian Journal of Women's Studies, 2016, 22 (3), pp. 208 - 227
Issue Date:
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© 2016 Asian Center for Women's Studies, Ewha Womans University. There has been limited discursive space for Korean women in the sex and entertainment industries, particularly for those working overseas in countries including Australia, to narrate their experience. Bringing out the voices of these women to the forefront, this paper offers a nuanced understanding of their migration trajectories and working and living conditions. Neither the abolitionist nor the decriminalization approach fully understands how women in these industries fare. The former neglects the agency of women who voluntarily choose this work, while the latter tends to silence the women trafficked into the industry. These views fail to encompass women’s complicated lived experience, often falling outside this binary. The 22 women interviewed here described their involvement in the industry as a short-lived and auxiliary part of their global exploration. Although they voluntarily chose such work, and despite its legal status, they still suffer from the stigma associated with it, while their working conditions are often deceptive, abusive and exploitative. The paper suggests that we need to transcend the dichotomy between the “free” and the “trafficked” assumed by both global and national policies regarding the sex trade, in order to develop policies and programs to support and protect these migrant women better.
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