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Ueno massage shop operators suspected of being N Korean operatives

39 Comments

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

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

39 Comments
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I think I want to check that place out.

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goddog, I think I should come with you. Just to be safe.

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fined 1 million yen for violation of the law controlling public morals.

Do the NPA fall under this law or is it just to nail Korean people of interest?

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goddog/northlondon - I'd like to help you with the investigation.

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"many have arranged sham marriages to obtain status of residence" - Wait, who are we talking about, Koreans, Chinese, Filipinos, Russians, ...?

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There's safety in numbers, can I join all of you in your hands-on research?

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Yakuza know more about north korea than the government.

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Wait, who are we talking about, Koreans, Chinese, Filipinos, Russians, ...?

I only saw one nationality mentioned in the sentence that preceded. Have you checked your eyes lately, sensei?

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I agree with 90292 their are safety in numbers. I would like to come along with you. We should check out as many establishments as possible.

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Ok, I want in as well.

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@ Beelzebub - Let me help you...You see, there's this thing called sarcasm. "mocking, contemptuous, or ironic language intended to convey scorn or insult" Have you checked your intellect lately?

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I agree with 90292 their are safety in numbers. I would like to come along with you. We should check out as many establishments as possible.

lets get a pose together for the sake of mother Japan.

Moderator: All readers back on topic please.

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Beelzebub - I realize the article only mentioned North Koreans. My post was meant as a statement about how wide-spread the problem of sham marriages is here in Japan. So, my eyes don't require checking.

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What does finished up with ‘hand service’ mean? C'mon, hands?

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Do they provide retirement plans and social benefits for their staff?

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Everybody, read this part again: "Last May, she had been fined 1 million yen for violation of the law controlling public morals." and "Shin’s massage shops had raked in some 100 million yen in revenues"

Wow, that's like a 1% tax rate! Crime sure does pay!

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How does a defector who opens up a sex shop somehow become an "Operative?"

These people aren't spies, just your average massage parlour worker. There are thousands just like this in Tokyo, Los Angeles, Atlanta,....

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What does finished up with ‘hand service’ mean? C'mon, hands?

It means that they normally use their 'lip service' and 'tongue service' but on the dirty parts they give you the 'hand service'.

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bdiego at 03:28 AM JST - 12th November Wow, that's like a 1% tax rate! Crime sure does pay!

Yeah, they pay less tax than me (and make a LOT more money!).

I have no real objection to the business, obviously coming from North Korea, probably with little or no education, these womens' opportunities were really limited and they took what work they could get. It's actually a bit sad.

However they've got to learn the most important lesson, never mess with the IRS (or local equivalent).

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I guess the phrase "pumped for information" applies here.

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If this is the place in Ueno I have seen, none of you (unless I guess wrongly and you are Japanese) will be allowed in to investigate. Very Gaijin dame place.

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Sounds like they were prosecuted more for being Korean and successful than being spies. I mean come on, massages and happy endings, THAT just doesn't happen in Tokyo.

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LOL violation of the law controlling public morals~ No such thing in Japan.

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How did the North Korean female masseur spies in Ueno find out important secrets? They pumped people for information!!

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Ask for the "Kim Jong Il Special Massage". (costs extra tho... )

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If you all think that these North Korean prostitutes are just doing sexual favors for money, better to keep believing in the tooth fairy or Santa Clause. This is the oldest game in the book, prostitute get money, talk to drunk Japanese guys, too drunk to even have sex, but sober enough to talk about all the stress they have at the Pentagon, oops, I mean the Japanese version of the Pentagon etc...call back to Pyongyang and BINGO! The DPRK, or Beijing for that matter keeps getting hot information about Japan, etc...

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ebudo: That's assuming the average salaryman has top secret business or government information (which somehow I doubt).

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" says an unnamed source in the sex industry" what a high great source. Can ensure this top notch citizen never lies. How honest of him/her to give a comment for this story.

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c'mon, these peoples are parts of net work and sleepy cell that waiting for the marching order. For those who don't understand the connection, please read "Idiot's on spying net work". Stop being so naive on the abusive of N.Korea dictatorship.

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all the masseuses were beauties in their 20s,” .... They gave oil massages .... and finished up with ‘hand service.’ A session cost 7,000 yen for 60 minutes and 8,000 yen for 70 minutes

That is a great deal !!

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wow makes the whole country sound like gangsters....maybe theses girls are just pawns of organised crime in their home countries ,perhaps its not directly under govt control

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The War on Sex is worldwide.

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I doubt they are pawns, and at any rate, if they dont do as they are told, their relatives will get it back home.

Been fairly obviously for many years these **x parlours & hostess bars house a number of girls there to collect info. Try your luck claiming to be a rocket scientist and see which one slides up to you ... remember its stage 3 which breaks you out of orbit ...

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I hate it when the government tries to get involved in business. Move aside, Yaks. The government now is doing it. elbudamexican, your ideas are like so......ancient. I mean really. This is Ueno. Not in government building. And like some government official is going to talk about his inner dealings with a prostitute? Come on! They don't even talk to their own wives, other than to say, where is my dinner? I know it is hard elbudamexican, but yes, the spy business is hard. And sometimes, you just have to earn your own way. Or...maybe these are actual refugees trying to earn a living or being sold off as sex slaves. God knows. Of course, if the latter is the situation, you just don't mind, do you, being a right-winger. That is just business and the way things are.

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"“They all spoke Korean and could manage in broken Japanese."

And this is who you think was pumping Japanese men for secrets?

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This is typical of the US govt....get so excited over the sexual component that they forget about espionage, terrorism, and illegal immigration…..to try to irrationally blame all three on sex.

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elbudamexicano - If you all think that these North Korean prostitutes are just doing sexual favors for money, better to keep believing in the tooth fairy or Santa Clause. This is the oldest game in the book, prostitute get money, talk to drunk Japanese guys, too drunk to even have sex, but sober enough to talk about all the stress they have at the Pentagon, oops, I mean the Japanese version of the Pentagon etc...call back to Pyongyang and BINGO! The DPRK, or Beijing for that matter keeps getting hot information about Japan, etc...

Simply amazing! I think you are watching too much CSI.

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It's well known in intelligence circles that many of these women are getting sensitive information. The "broken Japanese" is just a ruse.

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