South Korea: Where Prostitution Fixes Everything

Korean prostitutesI’ve pondered before on the Koreans’ relaxed, if generally unspoken attitudes regarding the world’s oldest profession. For an illegal industry nobody seems too concerned about concealing it. Rather, the Koreans as a whole appear curiously adept at simply not noticing what they don’t wish to see, and meanwhile there seems to be no shortage of customers, or service providers working out of the room salons, hotels, noraebang, barber shops, coffee deliverers, universities… pretty much everywhere (hey, those plastic surgeries and Prada bags aren’t going to buy themselves).

Of course, South Korea isn’t unique in embracing this industry. After all, pussy, to put it bluntly, is a very valuable commodity (just ask any young straight Chinese man) – personally I can understand why prostitution is such a massive global industry. From an economic standpoint it is kind of logical if one is so inclined, or has no other means, to generate income selling the one thing that can be sold repeatedly.

In South Korea, money and status are prized more than in most places (that I’ve been at least), and various statistics suggest massive numbers of young Korean women have worked the trade in one way or another, both at home and abroad. Still, I was somewhat surprised recently by one of my students’ attempts to secure a better grade (for the record, I work at a university – the young woman was of age… just).

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so surprised, considering how devastatingly handsome I am (and possibly also the fact that a great number of South Korean universities have no official policies regarding cheating, plagiarism or academic fraud of any kind). Anyway, this was new to me.

I was replying to my usual small batch of end-of-semester emails, explaining that unfortunately not all students can receive a grade of ‘A’ (no matter how much they might ‘want one’), and that being too drunk is not generally considered an entirely valid reason to skip finals, when I received a follow-up email from a student pleading for a grade change because she thought her final grade of ‘D’ was unjustified (she’d actually earned an ‘F’, and that only because ‘F-‘ doesn’t exist).

What I found surprising about these emails was their very existence (in that the young woman had no apparent qualms about outlining her proposal in writing), and also the quality of her writing, which did little to suggest I had been anything less than generous by giving her a final grade of ‘D’.

Of course, perhaps I just have an overactive, somewhat dirty imagination and completely misinterpreted what I was reading. Feel free to judge for yourself…

Email 1

Professor, Hello.

My name is xxx xxx xxx. I xxxxx xxxxx department.

There is a mistake in my grade. I attended was well Test well, I thought I saw.

But according to my passions D admit can not be. My grades are correct once again ask.

Email 2

Hi, Professor ~ How are you?
I’m had a christmas. I was alone in the house.
I’m sorry. Did you follw me.
Understand, But can not give up a little sexual?
I’m begging you.. Me was really hard, you know.
Please. Professor..
Grades came too little.
Let me please ask.
I think a man Resuscitating Please. Please.. Professor.
I should mention again that this particular tactic is not a common occurance (the first such emails for me after six years of university lecturing). Oh, and if you’re wondering… the student’s English grade remained unchanged.


  1. when you run the Korean of those letters through google translate, and see the other options for translations of those words, you’ll see where computers go horribly horribly wrong.

  2. OMG! there is some misunderstanding!!
    I guess she probably use google translation(because of her bad English).
    in Korean, ‘sexual’ has same pronunciation with ‘grad’ or ‘mark’.
    ‘man Resuscitating’ is also, ‘save my life’.

    so, the second letter means…

    I was alone in the house -> means I am a head of household.

    I live by myself, and it’s hard to study and earn money. please understand my position. you gave me very bad grade. could you upgrade my mark a little? just think that it’s saving someone’s life.

    she’s not a prostitute!

    but I understand you got it wrong.
    blame stupid google translation and her bad English!
    (she deserves D grad.)

  3. I think there was a huge misunderstanding between two as I read the mail.
    She just used Google translation so Google translated incorrectly for sure. The word “Grade” in Korean has the same mean with “sexual” in English.

  4. Not only does it appear that this was indeed a misunderstanding, I would also say that (seemingly) suggesting that women predominantly engage in transactional sex to be able to afford plastic surgery or expensive purses isn’t very kind and ignores how many sex workers are actually mothers trying to make ends meet.

  5. I agree. I’m a native speaker English univ. instructor who taught in Korea more than 15 years. I think the problem was incorrect translation, she wasn’t offering sex. That’s for sure.

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