South Korean police in Seoul reportedly made their first arrest under a law enacted in January 2005. Police captured a man, identified by his family name Kim, who allegedly sold human ova to infertile couples in South Korea and Japan. Kim was accused of luring indebted women to sell their eggs in exchange for monetary compensation. Following his arrest, police raided four Seoul hospitals, resulting in the charging, but not detention, of two university students and a housewife. Police are investigating at least ten other cases in which the Internet may have been a forum for the now illegal selling of one’s ova.
The new law, which forbids reproductive human cloning, was meant to promote stem cell research for therapeutic cloning. The commercial trading of ovum and sperm is now also illegal, with the broker being more penalized than the donor. Kim’s case and others reveal that donors are usually compensated between 3 and 5 million won for ovum that are then sold for approximately 17 million on the Japanese market. While there is no law banning such sales in Japan, the country’s gynecologists have a regulatory ban, which is strictly adhered to. According to the Japanese daily Yomiyuri Shimbun, Japanese women look to South Korean donors because of their proximity and similar racial features.