About 20 percent of teenage prostitutes in the southeastern port city of Pusan began working in the industry when they were under 14 just for money, according to a survey.
The Pusan Metropolitan Police Agency Friday released the survey of 85 teenagers and 157 men who were caught engaging in the sex trade in the city last year.
Police said that 44.7 percent of the underage prostitutes sold sex to make money to cover entertainment costs like social gatherings.
About 31, or 36 percent of them said they sold sex for a living, indicating their motivation in turning to prostitution.
Most of them needed money as they had run away from home out of frustration with their parents' divorce or domestic violence.
Others chose prostitution to make money to buy clothes and other goods.
According to the survey, 1.2 percent began prostitution under the age of 12, while 17.6 percent first sold sex between the ages of 13 and 14.
Also 58.8 percent or 50 teens first engaged in the sex trade between the ages of 15 and 16, while 22.4 percent started prostitution at 17 or 18.
Police said that prostitutes are getting younger as adults are luring vulnerable teenagers into the sex trade with promises of money.
About 47 percent, or 40 teenage sex workers, received 100,000-150,000 won for a prostitution job.
Some 21 percent, or 18 teenagers, took 60,000-100,000 won, while 16.5 percent earned less than 50,000 won.
Among the 157 men who bought sex from girls, office workers accounted for 30.6 percent, followed by independent business owners with 22.9 percent.
According to the survey, 82.9 percent, or 58 out of 70 jobs, were organized via the Internet.
Police said that it was very serious that teenagers were degrading themselves and showing no respect for the people who care for them.
``Police will strive to ensure teenagers are better informed about the dangers of the sex industry while strengthening the crackdown on the sex trade in cyber space,'' a police officer said.
Police also warned that a lot of prostitutes have pimps who collect money from them and offer to protect them in return.
Some pimps use brothels for the women and have watchers on street corners to watch for suspicious activity and prevent their escape. Pimps make money from the women who sell sex, and often do not protect them at all. Some pimps are the most dangerous of all, police pointed out.
Last year, police in Pusan caught 181 men buying sex from teenagers.
Under the anti-prostitution law, 31 out of 1,169 men, who engaged in sex with adult prostitutes, were arrested in the region.