By Andrea Lynn While female sexual work in South Korea is declining - as the U.S. military presence shrinks, Japanese tourism drops off, and fees for sexual favors soar - male prostitution is on the rise. But you won't hear that from the South Koreans, says UI sociologist John Lie. According to Lie, who is writing a book about sexual work in Asia, "Koreans tend to deny there are any gay prostitutes in Korea, because they tend to deny there are any gay Koreans." Lie, who says that homosexuality has only a "minority presence" in Korea, explained that there are two types of male prostitutes in Korea: straight men who cater to wealthy Korean women, and gay men who cater to men, mostly outside Korea. The former operate like gigolos; they may sing, dance or otherwise entertain women at bars, but they also might have sex with them. The latter type is more likely to do sexual work - sans the show biz - in Hong Kong, for example. In a recent issue of the journal Gender and Society, Lie traces the transformation of sexual work in 20th-century Korea through a series of stages. These include: the Yi dynasty (1392-1910), when traditional, state-organized female entertainers - called kisaeng - served their masters in a variety of ways depending on their rank; the Japanese colonial period (1910-45), when commercial interests drove the industry, and the primary clientele was Japanese colonial officials, soldiers and businessmen; the U.S. occupation of South Korea (1945-70), when sexual work catered to American soldiers; the state-encouraged "sex tour" industry of the '70s, which catered to "vacationing" Japanese men; and the diversified sex industry of the 1980s, which borrowed Japanese corporate practices and made prostitution widely available to non-elite Korean men. Lie's essay argues that "prostitution does not arise simply out of men's sexual desires or a 'deviant' women's willingness to offer sex for money," but out of underlying structural conditions, such as gender and class, and social organizations. Lie writes about the Japanese Imperial Army of the 1930s, which created "comfort divisions" for its soldiers abroad. Subjected to "atrocious" working conditions, some 15,000 Korean women were sent to China as prostitutes or nurses. Today, Korea is engaged in a painful debate about these women comforters. Similarly, in the '40s, as military involvement escalated, Japanese colonial officials kidnapped young rural Korean women and forced them into military prostitution; because the service was relatively expensive, low-ranking soldiers sometimes raped local Korean women instead. Meanwhile, the number of Japanese "vacationing" in Korea grew from 1,825 in 1962 to 667,319 in 1978. The work of many young rural women, recruited through deception or force, contributed significantly, Lie said, to Korea's rapid economic growth. "Industrialization occurred on the backs of factory workers and prostitutes."