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Local firm starts making, selling life-size sex dolls

Life-size sex dolls are among prohibited items for import into Korea, as they purportedly “corrupt public morals” under the customs law.

Apparently, however, a local firm has begun manufacturing and selling them, and there is no legal grounds to regulate that.

The firm began promoting the sales of what they call a “real doll” through an online community created on Naver in March, according to police and customs authorities. 

The dolls resemble the RealDoll, life-size sex dolls manufactured by a California-based company and sold worldwide.

Korea’s largest portal Naver allows its registered users to create “cafes,” or online communities. There are over 10 million Naver cafes, and many of them are used for group sales purposes.

Only those who go through Naver’s “adult verification” steps by entering their date of birth and mobile phone numbers can join the real doll cafe, which had about 1,500 members as of Thursday morning. The average number of visitors per day was around 200.

Customers are asked to visit the firm in Gyeonggi Province to purchase the dolls.

The cafe had five product review posts by people who visited or purchased the mannequins from May through August. Promotional posts were also found in large male-dominated online communities.

Customers wrote the dolls were “not much different from actual persons,” or “about 160 centimeters and 30 kilograms, and pretty.”

The mannequins made of a PVC skeleton, steel joints and silicone flesh sell for about 6 million won ($5,400).

Underage users can easily purchase the dolls by entering an adult’s date of birth and using that adult’s phone.

“The Naver cafe says it’s adult-only, but children can easily become a member,” said the parent of a teenager who bought a doll from the company.

“(The company) set up a factory and is selling the dolls. It’s absurd that making them is not illegal when importing them is.”

Last year, Incheon customs authorities booked without detention two men in their 40s for bringing 60 RealDolls into Korea from 2015.

There is no law, however, that regulates or punishes those who manufacture and sell similar dolls in Korea.

In the online petition system run by the presidential office, 19 posts asked the government to allow the import of RealDolls.

“The customs authorities do not make arbitrary decisions to prohibit the import of the goods. The decision (to ban import of the dolls) is made by a panel of nongovernmental experts such as professors and lawyers commissioned to deliberate on the customs clearance of adult products in consideration of the latest social conventions,” said an official at the Incheon customs office.

By Kim So-hyun (