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Airmen assigned to 7th Air Force in South Korea will now face judicial punishment for giving money to any bar or business for “companionship” as part of a Defense Department crackdown on establishments that support human trafficking.
An Aug. 29 memorandum to the numbered Air Force states: “Airmen subject to this order shall not provide money or anything of value to an employee or establishment in the Republic of Korea for the primary purpose of obtaining an employee’s company or companionship, either inside or outside of the establishment.” The prohibitions include paying fees to play darts, pool or other entertainment or buying a drink or a souvenir in exchange for an employee’s company, according to the memo from Lt. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas, the commander of 7th Air Force.
Airmen who violate the memo are subject to punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and airmen who see another member of 7th Air Force violating the memo are encouraged to contact Security Forces or the U.S. Forces Korea Prostitution and Human Trafficking Hotline.
The memo highlights “disreputable establishments” known as juicy bars near Air Force bases that take advantage of people, usually young women, and force them to work in bars. The employees are subjected to debt bondage and forced to sell themselves as “companions.” Near bases, troops are encouraged to buy overpriced drinks, called “juice” drinks, in exchange for company and to relieve bar employees of their work day, Jouas wrote.
“Paying for companionship, in or outside of bars or other establishments, directly supports human traffickers and is a precursor to prostitution and sexual assault,” Jouas wrote. “It is incompatible with our standards and legacy of standing up for the oppressed.”
U.S. officials, along with the governments of South Korea and the Philippines, have found a connection with these bars and human trafficking.
“Additionally, paying for an employee’s companionship promotes demeaning and sexist attitudes towards females and can lead to their treatment as objects rather than equals,” Rouas wrote. “This is intolerable and cannot continue.”