Host Nation

scene from the film HOST NATION
scene from the film HOST NATION
HOST NATION (2016, dir. Ko-woon Lee)

“Do you want to work in Korea?” Thus begins twenty-six-year-old Filipina woman Maria’s two-year journey into the sex industry in South Korea, which mainly caters to American soldiers stationed there. 

Host Nation chronicles Maria’s hopes, dreams, and crucial reality for two years to lay bare the legalized system of sex trafficking between South Korea and the Philippines. Maria had long dreamed about escaping from her slum neighborhood in Davao, Philippines, and getting a job abroad and when she was introduced to a talent manager, Madam Yolie, it seemed her dream was about to come true.

Yolie, who operates a training center and a temporary boarding house in Manila for women, has witnessed the ups and downs of the sex industries of neighboring Asian countries and sees the openings in the industry as job opportunities for poor Filipino women. 

The documentary follows Maria’s pathway into the South Korean sex industry via the E-6 visa, the so-called “entertainers’ visa,” slowing revealing the vast network of cross-border profit makers who enable sex trafficking, including a talent scout, a manager in Manila, a Korean broker, a Korean club owner and even Korean government agencies.

Part of the series Power of Seeing 보는 이의 권력 hosted by the East Asia Program at the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies.

Film website:

In Korean, Tagalog and English with English subtitles.