OSAN AIR FORCE BASE, South Korea, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- U.S. Air Force officials in South Korea are claiming progress in closing down off-base bars they believe are involved in prostitution and human trafficking.
Officials at Osan Air Base, 40 miles south of Seoul, claim so-called "juicy bars" located just outside the base use scantily-clad women to sell high-priced juice drinks to service members in exchange for companionship that sometimes ends in prostitution, Stars and Stripes reported Monday.
Many of the women are Filipinas brought into South Korean ostensibly as entertainers, but who actually end up working at the juicy bars. Women who do not meet their daily quota of drinks are sometimes forced to prostitute themselves to make up the difference, officials say.
Lt. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas, commander of the Seventh Air Force, said Defense Department officials have long had zero tolerance toward human trafficking, even though servicemen have been allowed to patronize the bars that hadn't been found promoting prostitution or human trafficking.
"What is new is that we are putting that into action and placing (off-limits) these establishments that, in our view ... are trafficking in persons," he said.
At Osan, those efforts have resulted in the number of juicy bars dropping from 44 a year ago to 10.
Officials at Kunsan Air Base have begun a similar effort, Jouas said.
The "firm resolve and conviction" of Osan base officials to stop human trafficking was praised by Feliticas Bay, the labor attache at the Philippine embassy in Seoul.
"It is my opinion that, in due time, the Osan Air Base efforts will have a domino effect in other base areas," she said.