|A court ruling allowing the import of life-size sex dolls is prompting controversy here. / Korea Times file|
By Kim Jae-heun
A dispute over the Supreme Court's verdict to allow the import of life-size sex dolls from "Real Doll" has intensified here over its possible effects on society.
In June, the court ruled in favor of sex doll importer Bururu.com that sued the government customs agencies for blocking their imports. Judges ruled that the sex dolls are for personal use and as such the government should not interfere in such private affairs.
However, feminist groups here are opposing the import of sex dolls, saying it could induce sex-related crimes and it infringes on women's personal rights, since the options to customize the dolls could lead to the creation of replicas of real women.
Activist Park Ah-reum at the Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center pointed out that there are problems with the way sex doll importers promote their products.
"Promotional slogans commodifying women are an affront to women's rights," Park said.
Professor Kim Jong-gab at the Institute of Body & Culture of Konkuk University also agreed that sex dolls were a form of sexual objectification, but claimed it was not immoral.
"Sexual objectification constitutes one aspect of our culture and pornography and sex dolls are at the peak of it," Kim said. Sex doll products in Korea are not illegal but pornography is strictly controlled here.
However, a representative of Bururu.com, Lee Sang-jin, said using a sex doll constitutes self-determination and that his dolls can help disabled people resolve sexual desires.
"I started my business to make people happy and sex is a way to provide it," Lee said.
There are also concerns related to the sale of sex dolls that look like children. Currently, the products have not been imported here but many worry that if the government does not come up with regulations, it is only a matter of time before replicas of children become available.
Experts in the field warn the use of dolls that look like children could cause an increase in sex crimes targeting minors.
"It is clear that sex dolls that look like children were made to satisfy pedophilia," said Korea Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect President Lee Bae-geun. "If the sale of child sex dolls is permitted, crimes targeting children will increase."