On the fifth floor of a sleazy commercial building close to Ueno station, occupied by several restaurants on the lower floors, was a shop with signs that read "Korean style" and "Oil + dermabrasion massage."
"The 'mama' was in her 40s, but all the masseuses were beauties in their 20s," says a former customer. "They all spoke Korean and could manage in broken Japanese. They gave oil massages in cubicles separated by curtains, and finished up with 'hand service.' A session cost 7,000 yen for 60 minutes and 8,000 yen for 70 minutes -- quite affordable, which is why it was pretty popular in the neighborhood."
But on Oct 4, investigative reporter Tateo Tamura writes in Shukan Post (Nov 19), the proprietress of "Rakuraku," 49-year-old Tak Jon-suk, was arrested on charges of operating a sex business in a zone where such activities are prohibited. Later, Tak was re-arrested on suspicion of violating the immigration law related to refugees. Tak herself had defected from North Korea, as had all seven of her female workers.
Tak claimed that after escaping from the north, she had failed to secure a decent livelihood in South Korea and arranged to come to Japan. But Japan's Public Security Intelligence Agency had taken notice of Tak a year earlier, and considered her a person of interest.
According to their version of events, Tak had joined "Hana-won," a South Korean support group for escapees from the North, and obtained South Korean citizenship. Then in April 2004, she entered Japan and began living in Sendai.
"She is believed to have operated an outcall massage service that at its peak employed over 10 girls, mostly from North Korea," says an unnamed source in the sex industry. "It provided even more stimulating services than Rakuraku."
While in Sendai, Tak had wed a 70-year-old Japanese man, but left him one month later to take up residence in Tokyo. She divorced her first husband and married a second. When Shukan Post's reporter tried to interview the first husband in Sendai, the man angrily refused comment, saying Tak's case was "under investigation."
A source in Japan's security agency tells Shukan Post that Tak's second husband appears to have been a homeless man, and that both her marriages are likely to have been spurious.
"When she defected to South Korea, she was debriefed by the authorities, who determined that she had belonged to the 'Gukga Anchon Powi-bu' (National Safety Protective Department), an arm of North Korea's secret police," the source says. "In addition to dealing with domestic dissidents, this unit tracks down North Korean defectors in northeast China, Hong Kong, Macao and other countries. Tak is believed to have engaged in such activities, and was permitted to leave North Korea under the guise of being a defector. This is why we tagged her for investigation."
On Oct 4, the same day Tak was arrested, police also hauled in another Korean woman, Shin Hee-yon, who was operating several erotic massage parlors in the Ueno area. Shin is believed to have left North Korea in 2004 and entered Japan in 2006. Last May, she had been fined 1 million yen for violation of the law controlling public morals. Investigators claim between January 2009 and May of this year Shin's massage shops had raked in some 100 million yen in revenues, of which 35 million yen was remitted to North Korea via underground banks.
In addition to engaging in human trafficking as a means of generating hard currency to prop up the Pyongyang regime, the source voiced concerns that North Korea may be gearing up to flood the market with stimulant drugs.
The magazine estimates that female defectors from North Korea in Japan number about 130. Not all of them work in the sex industry, but many have arranged sham marriages to obtain status of residence, in some cases using brokers with links to organized crime syndicates.© Japan Today