North Korean Defector Working as Prostitute Found Dead in Motel

defector prostituteTwo defectors leave a car, from a 2012 photo essay by Kim Jong Taek

Earlier this month, the body of a defector and known prostitute was found in a motel room in the city of Hwaseong, sparking debate regarding the treatment of North Koreans who come to the South.

The murderer turned himself in to the police within 24 hours of the crime he said he had committed ‘in a fit of anger’ when the woman refused to participate in a ‘perverted’ sex act.

The story of the woman’s difficult journey to South Korea, leaving the North in 2002 with her siblings and passing through Cambodia before finally arriving in the South won the sympathy of many netizens who hoped she could be ‘reborn’ into a better life. The fact that the murderer already had 16 convictions incited outrage and renewed calls for greater use of the death penalty.

Prostitution can be a common path for female defectors, experts cited in articles covering the incident said. The women, who often need to repay smugglers who extract them from the North and guide them through China, can become easily recruited by other defectors who have themselves turned to prostitution.

From Yonhap News:

Tragedy as defector forced into prostitution is murdered

The tragic story of a female defector strangled by one of her clients has recently emerged. The woman, who worked in a tea house, was delivering tea to a client when she was strangled.

The manager of a motel in the city of Hwaseong in Gyeonggi Province, found Ms. Kim, age forty-five, in one of his rooms at 11:20 p.m. on the night of March 17th.

The assailant has been identified as a Mr. Lee, who checked into a room at the motel at 2:00 p.m.

According to the police, Lee was driven to strangle Ms. Kim after she rejected his request for a perverted sex act after he had paid her and they were engaged in sexual relations. Angered by the rejection, Lee suddenly attacked the woman and strangled her.

Lee turned himself in on the 18th and admitted his crime. The police immediately arrested him for the charge of murder.

Kim had left North Korea with three of her siblings in 2002.

After spending two years in China, Kim sought asylum in Cambodia in May of 2004. Embracing dreams of ‘new life in South Korea’, she arrived in Incheon Airport in June of the same year and began a new life.

While Kim never formally married, she set up a home in the city of Suwon. However, her ‘second life’ was not to last for very long. After nine years in South Korea, her life ended in tragedy.

The police report contained comments from an employee at the tea house, ‘Ms. Kim had been working here for the past two days, she also came here to work about twenty days ago…When she first came looking for work she mentioned that she had worked at a hair salon in the past.’

defector prostitute2

Female defectors making the journey to South Korea through another intermediary country often experience severe mental and physical harm, which may not end even after they have started a new life.

In a 2012 Yonsei University School of Welfare study commissioned by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, 26.4% of surveyed female defectors between the ages of twenty and fifty showed signs of psychological depression, (37 of the 140 respondents).

14.3% of the survey respondents said that they had been the victim of sexual assault, molestation, or sexual violence while they were living in North Korea. The percentage of respondents who said they had suffered injury while traveling through a third country was even higher at 17.9%. 12.1% of respondents said they had suffered after arriving in South Korea.

According to Kim Jae-yeob, Dean of the Yonsei University Graduate School of Welfare, ‘Female defectors endure violence not only while they are in North Korea or while traveling through a third county, but also after they move to South Korea. This violence becomes a very serious threat to their independence. He emphasised the need for a plan that would provide customised support to female defectors who have suffered violence.

Comments from Daum:


Do the defectors who come over here find any good jobs? Most of them end up working in restaurants.


Customised education plan? Everything is in an uproar because of the lack of jobs. Leftist idiots need to wake up and see what the real world is like.


And now small and medium sized companies are struggling because of lack of workers.


Money, sex, power…ruining Korea. The death penalty isn’t right for sexual criminals, school bullies, etc. because they have to spend the rest of their miserable lives rotting in prison..


Execute them! Execution. It’s as if the bastard judges we have are encouraging murder and rape when they give such light sentences.


Our illustrious legislative system will take one look at this, declare extenuating circumstances, and give the guy less than ten years in prison.


Restore the death penalty.


South Korea may be affluent, but when both North and South exploit the common people and suck them dry, what is the point of defecting?


*I believe that defectors need gradual education and customised employment to make sure that they adjust well to South Korean society. *My deepest sympathies for the deceased. When the corruption and abuse within a society causes citizens to suffer, then it is clearly the fault of the government.


My heart breaks to hear of this terrible death. But, when they say that the woman was ‘forced’ into prostitution, who did the forcing? She just took the road that was easier for her. It is hard to see any fact in the article that points toward her being coerced into a life of prostitution.

친일파는 싫어요님:

Kim Jong Un will be angry to hear this news…

신이라 우기는사나이님:

What is the point of defecting to the Beggar Republic of Korea? Male defectors either work on construction crews or become thugs. The women sell their bodies or become hostesses. Ke ke, so they are now returning to the North after defecting. Ke ke, is it really hard to survive in North Korea??? In South Korea, even if it is hard to survive, all you can do is remain quiet and kill yourself. Ke ke, at least in Bukhanistan you can complain about your empty stomach.


It makes me sick to think how she risked her life to leave the north and now she ends up killed in such a sad way.. Rest in peace, may you live happily in your next life..


Did they come here to live on the bottom rung of society and sell their bodies? If they wanted to live well, then they could have at least started with cleaning hallways or something. But if they die while doing something filthy, well, that’s the way life goes.

기타치는 전투기님:

When defectors are forced to sell their bodies, it is also our politicians’ fault.


I guess to be poor is a sin…I hope that you will be reborn into a good place and not have to struggle in your next life.

Comments from the Hankook Ilbo:


How can someone with sixteen different crimes on his record still be allowed to live… Is this an experiment to see how many times one person can commit crimes.. Please use the death penalty to get rid of the trash in this world…


Nothing makes sense in this country. The guy had sixteen prior convictions… With a record like that, it is clear that he will offend again. Anyone who sets him free is also guilty of indirectly committing a crime, no? The news recently mentioned how trust in the government has taken a nosedive, is it so hard to figure out the cause?

JungHwan Lee:

Let’s make it so that your tenth criminal offense automatically gets you the death penalty.. There’s no hope of rehabilitation for those bastards.


Society is just getting more and more unstable, the police keep getting weaker while at the same time people don’t follow any social order. As a result, the crime rate just goes up and up. Just twenty years ago, respect for human life was such that a murder would always get covered in the news. We have to restore the ultimate penalty and bring back executions.

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  • Elf Queen

    I do not know if defectors receive this kind of help but one thing that they should receive all the time is professional mental help. It is already a harsh world we are living in but it is unfathomable what they had to go thru their lives.

    • chucky3176

      No, they don’t get those help. Many arrive with post traumatic stress syndrome (which are often seen in soldiers who’ve been in horrible battles). They do get plenty of material help in the form of social programs from the government though, but many end up squandering them away. But they also need mental help as well as total long term life/job/education retraining. Many of them can’t even understand South Korean dialect (which the borrowed English vocabulary grows by the day). Since they are under educated people living in a highly competitive society that highly values education, they are inevitably destined to work in the low paying manual dead end jobs. And it’s not like it’s easy for them to work in factories either. Korean employers probably prefer foreign laborers over the fresh off the boat North Koreans who have never worked under a capitalist competitive system, thus unable to understand the employer expectations. It’s just too simplistic and a cop out to say that all their problems are due to South Korean prejudices against North Koreans. The factors are much more complicated than that when you try to rejoin a people who have been separated without contact for over 70 years.

      • Elf Queen

        This is what I suspected.Throwing money at the problem will not solve it.

        Many people think with reunification this problem called North Korea will just disappear.Mind set so deeply ingrained will not change with shiny gadgets and high heels.

        Right now SK of course needs to accept all defectors.After,somehow this pudgy monster will disappear there have to be better solutions.

      • Jimmy Hoffa

        South Korea needs an affirmative action program like they have in the United States. The Americans realized that simply giving blacks equal rights wasn’t enough. So to help them become competitive, they passed laws which promoted blacks into positions for which they clearly weren’t qualified. Over the course of time, many many black people began to get traction in the competitive American economy and today there is a fairly substantial black middle class in America that is doing quite well.

  • commander

    The dream of freedom and a better life the victim had cherished from the day she decided to take a life or death journey to South Korea was shattered when she confronted with South Koreans’ prejudices against North Korean defectors and harshier-than thought capitalistic competition here.

    The tragic death might prove North Korea’s propaganda saying the capitalist South is not the best place to live.

    (Evidence A: The victim would have not been murdered in the communist nation albeit suffering starvation.)

    Dire plights facing many freedom-seeking North Koreans should be spotlighted for substanstial improvement not only in financial aid, but also in correcting biased perception and providing job training and employment for defectors and quality education for their children.

    In particular, schools exclusive for defecting children needs consideration. Well educated children could become successful, which serves as a rallying unity for increasingly divergent two Koreans and as living evidence of the communist North’s governance failure.

    • Kate

      What a great comment and summation!

      • commander

        Thank Kate for your kind praise. :)

    • One for all

      There is such a school commander. They address the issues you listed and almost everything is donated and done by volunteers.

      Hopefully more like this wonderful organization will spring up.

      • commander

        The top education chief that takes the helm of enducation policy in the city of Seoul has already too much on his agenda.

        Private contriburions to education fro defectors’ children are not enough.

        State-sponsored educational policy, including the setting up of defectors-only schools where pupils are offered higher, and intensive education without receiving invisible discrimination from South Koreans, should put more focus on defectors who need to deserve as much attention as other social underdogs.

        • chucky3176

          That separate school for North Korean children does more harm than good. What they need is more integration, not more separatism, effectively marking these students for life, as people with problems. The intentions were good, but the approach is wrong.

          • commander

            I dont agree.

            North Korean children who fled the oppressive rule in Pyongyang spent early childhood starkly differnt from South Koreans’, finding themselvez hard to adjust to schools here.

            The fierce competition for college admission at schools overwhelms the initial hope by those children that they will make good friends here.

            Schools with tailored curricula for North Koreans will offer the chance of success for them in South Korea, creating a wind of change into a present dimmer view of North Koreans that are pervasive in society.

            The fair amount of financial aid and a month of education to help adjustment that are given for North Korean defectors here are not enough to get North Koreans to lead a better life that they have dreamed of.

            Even if having temporary period, schools for North Koreans should be given serious policy consideration.

            This change would also be a beacon of hope for North Koreans across the border who are still suffering from an iron-fisted rule in a poverty -stricken nation that still prioritizes military armament over public welfare.

          • chucky3176

            I disagree. They can have separate curiculum designed for North Korean students in the same public highschools attended by South Korean peers, while attending some of the classes with South Korean students. By building totally separate schools for North Koreans, they are building a wall between North and South Korean children. Both North and South Korean children need to learn how to deal with each other because when those North Korean children leave school, they won’t be shielded by those walls that were designed to help them. Instead, have the North Korean special programs inside South Korean schools, and have North Korean students slowly integrated into South Korean student classes. South Korea should learn from Western countries on how they deal with newly arrived immigrant children. Western countries that see lot of immigrant children don’t build separate schools for immigrants to protect them. Immigrant children attend regular school while they attend special programs for immigrants.

          • Totally agree. And I just can’t help but to think of US’s “separate but equal” schools so… for all we know, they could pull that same crap too and they may not be able to get full benefits as the South Korean students and might still be discriminated against… I dunno… it could happen so why not lower the chances of that happening? If you’re gonna live in a different country, you’re gonna have to deal with its citizens and shouldn’t be forced to be separated yet again.

          • Bandit

            While I disagree with government mandated segregation, I also disagree with the notion modern American lawmakers have, that certain schools, neighborhoods etc are “too white”, and that with regards to the latter, they require some kind of “diversity quotient”, aka forced bussing.

          • I actually don’t like that either… just to meet a certain quota or whatever or get certain benefits.. it’s all for selfish gains.

          • the other guy

            “State-sponsored educational policy, including the setting up of
            defectors-only schools where pupils are offered higher, and intensive
            education without receiving invisible discrimination from South Koreans,
            should put more focus on defectors who need to deserve as much
            attention as other social underdogs.”


            “I disagree. They can have separate curiculum designed for North Korean
            students in the same public highschools attended by South Korean peers,
            while attending some of the classes with South Korean students. By
            building totally separate schools for North Koreans, they are building a
            wall between North and South Korean children.”


            You know, I think there may be a way for both of you to be right: Finland as far as I know has the worlds best educational system and when I lived there the Finish state arranged for me to attend public school with normal Finish students, but at the same time I had to spend several hours in a after school program designed for immigrants and foreign children where we were taught finish language, social values and academics. In a period of one up to two years we where brought up to date and managed to integrate fully with the rest of the class.

            Its been more than 15 since I left Finland, but still up to this day I remain very grateful to the Finish System. Changing countries is never easy and some times as a children it can be very traumatic. Integration is very hard and I believe that without that “special” treatment things might have been harder.

            I guess, as far as I see it the answer is neither separation nor indifference. Children need to be with their peers, but also they should have some sort of “special” attention. I firmly believe that a centralized & institutionalized “after school” program designed for deflectors could do lots of good.

          • commander

            Your argument–seizing the middle ground between disparate preferential treatment and nudging children into one fold–is very persuasive when your personal experiences are used as the basis.

            No one would opposes the necessity of more focused attention on North Korean defectors.

            The ways to achieve unity between the two Koreans may not be so different as we think.

          • commander

            We can agree to disagree.

            The separation of North and South Koreans within a school according to their academic ability could cause more problems. Students from the North would be highly likely to be categroized into a relatively inferior class, a classification that could reinforces the negative perception of them.

            Schools for teens from the communist nation, if established, should be equipped with better facilities and well financed for a variety of extracurricular activities for their students as well as good teachers with great teaching skills.

            New schools would dispel the suspicious view that setting up a protectice wall could result in a deeper reliance on the shield.

            This is hardly the case if the envisoned schools are established in an above-mentioned way.

            Schools fostering North Korean students as able ones can be a way for a wider and deeper societal integration.

          • chucky3176

            you said,

            “The separation of North and South Koreans within a school according to their academic ability could cause more problems.”

            That’s not what I’m advocating at all! In fact the opposite. North and South Korean students should be integrated, but at the same time recognize that the North Koreans need special help. They should attend some of the same classes as their South Korean peers, but at the same time, some of the classes should be reserved for strictly for North Koreans where they will be taught the curriculum that are especially designed for them. It will be like South Korean school PLUS supplementary programs for North Koreans. If we’re going to live together, then we need to learn how to live together.

          • One for all

            Actually, the aim of the school is to prepare the students for a year or two so that they can attend the local elementary/middle/high schools nearby.

            I’ve been to the school, I know how it works. You have to remember that these kids are well behind their South Korean peers in terms of education, social interaction and awareness, and so on……anyone that has attended/worked in schools in Korea knows about the fierce competition among students and the problem of bullying kids labelled as ‘outsiders’.

            This school offers the NK children pshycological assistance, Math, English, Science lessons, medical and dental observation and a family-orientated environment, which is what they need at this stage of their lives (most of the children have been in SK for less than a year).

            Like I said before, almost everything is donated and done by volunteers. The school has 3 full-time staff (and an army of volunteers that visit weekly).

  • Kate

    16 convictions and still allowed on the street?!?!?!?! WTF Korean Legal system?!?!

    • chucky3176

      The Korean legal system is a joke. Manslaughters will get you average of 6 months to 2 years, if even that. First degree murders will get you no more than between 7 and 10 (10, if it’s a heinous crime). The US sentencing are way more harsh and strict, and American prisons way more scarier and unhappy place for prisoners. The Korean death sentence hasn’t been abolished, but no-one has been executed since 1997, and no-one will in the future – even with token death sentences given out. At least Korea isn’t as bad as the US in terms of handing out furloughs and paroles like candy.

      What Korea needs to is forget about the death penalty debate, and start identifying the useless judges who are no better than negligent criminals, get rid of them through public shame, and clean house.

      • Butsu

        We’re in the same situation in Sweden, minus the death penalty thing. It really blows.

      • commander

        whether higher intensity of punishment to criminals brings down crime rates is debatable, though my hunch is that South Korea’s crime rate may be lower than its American counterpart while,as you said, Seoul has a lighter level of sentence for criminals than Washington has.

        • Bandit

          >whether higher intensity of punishment to criminals brings down crime rates is debatable

          All other things being equal, it isn’t debateable at all. This is the reason you can’t have mature debates with the political left in Western countries. They’ll literally start claiming that having recidivist rapist/murderers ‘talk about their feelings’ is a more effective method than a piece of rope.

          • commander

            You need to draw a distinction in punishemnt of criminals between its deterrence effects on potential offenders and handling criminals.

            My contention is that the deterrence efficacy is questionable as different studies have painted differing pictures.

            Regarding handling of criminals, stances are divergent, with liberals emphasizing rehabilitation as the ultimate purpose of any penality for convicts while conservatives highighting the importance of having offenders pay a due price for their crimes.

            The battle between the two sides becomes heated when a heinous crime is commited because the family of a victim wants as stricy punishment as law allows, an argument that even liberals are silent when they are asked whether they are still a champion of rehabilitation if their family is the victim of inhumane crimes.

          • Jang

            You are full of it, there ain’t many who say murderers/rapists “talking about their feelings” is more effective than anything. When dealing with drug and alcohol users well then of course that is true.

      • Bandit

        Like I’ve said should happen in Western countries: If the parole board wants to give the scum parole, then a randomly selected member of the board must host the criminal in their own house for a year.

  • One for all


    Reading things like this really puts life into perspective. One’s thoughts are with the victim and her family.

  • jcyin

    That family that defected back to the DPRK and whom everyone was lambasting online, including here, as traitors, agents or propagandists. They were probably forced into something similar hence they said life as a defector in the south is filled with shame.

    Yet nobody was bothered to find out why they said that or try to understand their plight. Everyone just assumed that, oh they’re north koreans lets call bullshit to everything they say.

    Seems like only murdering someone will make society realize the truth. Its always like this…. lets hope more defectors are murdered in “democratic” countries to make people realize how flawed they are and how they’re all myths.

    • chucky3176

      They were few individuals, not entire families. Those are entirely different cases to begin with. Either they suffered from loneliness and alienation from a strange culture, or they were lured back to North Korea through blackmail from North Korean agents, threatening their families that were left behind in North Korea.

      • the other guy

        I am not saying you are wrong, but it reads as if you are implying that South Koreans are blameless in this… I am not an expert in your country, but from what little I gather I get the impression that people in the South are not always accepting of northerners.

        I believe that this problem is very complex and that it escapes the white/black dichotomy.

        • chucky3176

          Never said South Koreans are blameless. Apathy and ignorance towards the plight of the North Koreans are the biggest sins South Korea is committing. What I’m saying is though, this problem is much more complex than just South Koreans not accepting of northerners. It’s always going to be hard to suddenly mix two totally different alienated cultures practically from two different worlds, and not get any problems. South Koreans not accepting North Koreans may be a problem, but also North Korean’s low self esteem that leads to internalization that they’re being discriminated by South Koreans, when that may not always be the case, is also a problem.

  • Matthias Lehmann

    Interestingly, the article doesn’t mention South Korea’s Anti-Prostitution Law,
    which leaves sex workers to work in criminalised environments, unable to
    report violent clients to the police without incriminating themselves.

    And not only that: in practice, sex workers are punished harder than their clients, if found in violation of the law, and because of that, clients even use the law to try and coerce sex workers into providing services they refuse.

    No law can ever fully prevent criminals from committing acts of violence or murder. But the Anti-Prostitution Law is harmful to sex workers and needs to be repealed.

    • …which is pretty messed up since most prostitutes are women… So the law is extremely strict for them, but pfffttt who cares about rapists though….

      • Matthias Lehmann

        I wouldn’t necessarily say that nobody cares about rape in general but there’s a common tendency to brush off the rape of sex workers, and not only in South Korea, because “they do that anyway” – they don’t – and brush off violence against them, too, because they are blamed for working as sex workers to begin with.

        • I never said to brush off the rape of sex workers.. I mean brushing off rape in general. Really seem like women get the lower end of the stick.

      • chucky3176

        Do you guys really think prostitutes are punished more harshly than their men customers? The fact is, prostitution in South Korea is almost practically condoned – not legally of course, but through lax enforcement of the laws.

        • well, guess that’s why I’m also here to learn more… because knowledge is power!

        • Matthias Lehmann

          I am sorry but that’s incorrect. Police crackdowns have been increasing ever since 2004 and again since the Anti-Sex Trade Law was revised in late 2011. While there are still brothel owners who get tipped off due to their good connections to corrupt police, crackdowns do happen and sex workers are not only punished harsher than their clients, they also suffer abuse – verbal and physical – from the police.

          • dk2020

            sex workers should move to a country where its legal .. you really don’t know the game either ..

          • Matthias Lehmann

            Shows how much you know, “dkdk2020”. When they move abroad, they are still not safe from harassment from their government or Korean communities there.



          • dk2020

            smfh .. thats called sex trafficking dude ..

            what about underaged prostitution in the phillippines by americans? what about the craigslist killer? what about the erotic review? they are run by white dudes.. get your head out your ass dude ..

          • Matthias Lehmann

            What does that have to do with consensual adult sex work?

          • Interesting… The pimp and prostitute in South Korea did protest once for sex worker’s right. It is artistic…



          • Matthias Lehmann

            There are two sex worker organisations in South Korea: Giant Girls, the Network for Sex Workers’ Rights, and HanTeo, the National Union of Sex Workers.

            The former consists of feminist scholar-activists and sex workers, the letter of brothel owners and sex workers.

            Giant Girls website:

            HanTeo website:

            The photo depicts an event that was quite horrifying as distressed sex workers threatened to set themselves on fire after a peaceful protest ended with a confrontation between the protesters and the police.

            Reuters video:

            You can learn more about the violation of sex workers’ rights in Korea (and elsewhere) on my blog, if you are interested.


          • hey Matthias Lehmann, yes I agree that people should have equal rights no arguments.

            Anyway, lets say you achieve what you aim to do and that the public no longer view sex worker as prostitute or treat them as a lower class citizen, as you wrote in your blog. If you have a daughter, if she wants to be a sex worker, would you let her? honest answer please, as a father

          • Matthias Lehmann

            My honest answer is that it wouldn’t be my choice but hers or his and that this question is commonly used to single out sex work as opposed to other professions.

            Parents have to accept all sorts of decisions their children make, and
            personally, I much rather have my daughter or son be a sex worker than a
            a bigot. I wouldn’t want my daughter or son to be forced into anything,
            sex work included. If you raise your child to make her or his own decisions after
            weighing all possible options, you’ve done a good job as a parent.

            Regardless of parents hopes and dreams for their children, nobody should have to work under dangerous conditions, therefore I am in favour of policies that don’t do harm instead of those who disregard reality. People will choose to work as sex workers. And they are always somebody’s children and more often than not have children of their own.

            Recommended reading about the subject:

            Emily McCombs
            “I’m Not Your Daughter, And Neither Are Sex Workers”

            Anonymous Sex Worker

            “Mother and a Whore”

            …and this piece by Nicole Cliff…


            …though I disagree with the notion that legalising sex work might increase human trafficking. In Germany, evidence has shown otherwise.

            Prostitution Law: No Increase in Forced Prostitution

          • hm…. that kind of justification can be applied to many kind of unsavory job also. Honestly I dont think you will change many people’s mind, but its a good struggle. So good luck.

          • Matthias Lehmann

            Unsavoury job – that’s an interesting choice of words. There are quite many jobs that I personally find more unsavoury than consensual adult sex work. One of the problems is that the vast majority of people are mislead by the media and anti-prostitution and anti-trafficking campaigners about what the reality for sex workers actually entails.

            Positive experiences are discounted as “not representative”, sex work activists are discredited as “pimp apologists”, and the agency of people working in the sex industry negated – they are said to be living in a “false consciousness”.

            This video…


            …is also “not representative” of what sex work is because there are so many different forms of sexual services and nobody denies that there are also negative aspects, too, but it could be a starting point for you to see that sex work is not just “lying somewhere with your legs open”, as is often claimed.

            This article is another worth looking at.


            As for “Human Trafficking“, I find that the majority of people seems to believe that women being forced to work in the sex industry account for the vast majority of cases. However, according to the International Labour Organisation, “20.9 million people are victims of forced labour globally, trapped in jobs into which they were coerced or deceived and which they cannot leave. … Forced labour is classified into three main categories or forms: forced labour imposed by the State, and forced labour imposed in the private economy either for sexual or for labour exploitation. … Women and girls represent the greater share of total forced labour – 11.4 million victims (55%), as compared to 9.5 million (45%) men and boys…. There are 9.1 million victims (44% of the total) who have moved either internally or internationally, while the majority, 11.8 million (56%), are subjected to forced labour in their place of origin or residence. Cross-border movement is strongly associated with forced sexual exploitation. By contrast, a majority of forced labourers in economic activities, and almost all those in state-imposed forced labour, have not moved away from their home areas. These figures indicate that movement can be an important vulnerability factor for certain groups of workers, but not for others.” Forced sexual exploitation accounts for 22% of forced labour globally. (Source: ILO 2012 Global Estimate of Forced Labour)

            Bad enough, without a doubt, but not the scenario sold to the public by anti-prostitution campaigners and the media. As almost always, you just have to follow the money trail – who is getting funds for what and why. You’d be surprised at the hidden agendas behind some so-called anti-trafficking organisations.

          • interesting….what do you think is their agenda? what will they gain by campaigning anti-prostitution?

          • Guest

            In Korea, you mean? Their agenda is very clear. They hope that the Anti-Sex Trade Law (성매매특별법) will be repealed. But, as chances don’t happen overnight, any steps to improve the law will be a step into the right direction. While evidence has shown that even laws that “only” criminalise the clients have failed, step 1, if repealing the law altogether cannot be accomplished, would be to put an end to police violence against sex workers and to create an atmosphere where sex workers can report violent clients to the police without getting themselves into hot water.

            By the way, here is my latest blog post from today. It’s a photo series by a Korean sex worker.

            “Working? Working!” By Yeoni Kim (All Rights Reserved)

          • Matthias Lehmann

            Woops, sorry. Am in the middle of work. I thought you were referring to sex worker organisations. I’ll post another reply later.

        • Jang

          Yes! Not only “more harshly” but more often, by the numbers it doesn’t even compare.

  • Yes, I remember watching documentary of one girl with other group from North Korea defected to the south via China to SEA then to South Korea. Once they arrived to South Korea, another battle begins, they are without skill or qualification to land a job, so perhaps its not so surprising to hear North Korean girls turn to prostitution. In the documentary the girl wanted to be a singer I believe she can play the piano, though at the back of my mind, I know she wont be able to make it and at the end she probably have to be a prostitute. Even people with qualification are having problem getting a job, whats more people who dont and are of advance age (20s and above). Perhaps simple job at convenient store, in a restaurant etc but how will they survive with this kind of job? so how did those defector to South Korea manage to survive?

    • chucky3176

      They get a settlement money from government, as well as subsidized housing, and monthly stipends. Compared to the Western welfare programs, the material social programs in South Korea for North Koreans are lot more generous. The problems North Koreans run into are that they feel they must make lots of money, which leads them into being targets of exploitation by South Korean crooks.

      in a very short time, to bring the rest of their family from North Korea (it takes thousands of dollars to bribe North Korean and Chinese guards, and thousands more to pay off the human smugglers in China). Since they are naive and uneducated, they are wide open targets to South Korean frauds who are all willing to exploit the North Koreans. There are many cases where North Koreans sell off everything, get ripped off, and become homeless. But at the same time, most of North Koreans in South Korea are either happy or at least satisfied with their lives, according to the poll done last year. It’s the minority percentage who are in deep shit.

      • Jang

        Where is the “poll done last year”? The S. Korean gov’t doesn’t give much to elder S. Koreans but somehow you’re telling us that it is “generous” to N. Koreans? Links and facts please?

        • chucky3176

          The defectors get a monthly or quarterly stipends that add up to $10,000 to $15,000 a year. They also receive a tax payer subsidized apartment, eliminating their need to pay out a large Korean rental deposit called the “chonse” which typically go well over tens of thousands of dollars. Their unemployment rate is pretty high, much higher than South Koreans. But many North Koreans also lie about their employment status to continue to receive their welfare payments.

          Look at the chart here which polls the North Koreans of their satisfaction with their lives in South Korea

          33.1 percent says “Very Satisfied”
          46.2 percent says “Satisfied”

          14.8 percent says “Little Dissatisfied”

          5.9 percent says “Very Dissatisfied”

          TOTAL: 79.3% Satisfied vs 20.7% Dissatisfied

          which to me says the majority of North Korean defectors to the south are satisfied with their lives.

          • chucky3176

            Also, the Korea Times on January 6 issue reports that a government poll done on 19,000 North Korean defectors (out of 25,000 total), 39.7% of them said they felt they belonged to the lower class. But this is much better than compared to 45.7% of South Koreans who felt they were lower class. When asked if they thought their living standards would rise, 73.5% said yes, compared to only 68.7% for South Koreans.

  • KCdude

    Influential politicians don’t want to help North Korean refugees other than using them for their political purposes. We always criticize a handful of progressive politicians who affiliate themselves with North Korea. Reality check! We also need to criticize conservative politicians who are ruthlessly taking advantage of North Korean refugees for their political causes. Anyways. Some people around me say that South Korea is not so different from North Korea. This is rather unusual to admit this. But how? It’s fearfully scary that this comment is so true. I think I’m slowly turning insane. My flowery rose-like conservative value makes me hate Korean conservatives even more! Those pseudo-conservatives are killing the North Korean refugees by simply neglecting them. I believe in Karma. Justice will be served.

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  • asfd

    i’m just shocked that the murderer turned himself in. like wow.

  • bultak23

    what a shameful situation.

    부끄럼을 느끼게 하니?

  • bultak23

    do people feel shame about this?

    • dk2020

      why should other koreans feel shame about this? I didn’t do it or condone it .. the collective guilt/shame/blame mentality is bullshit .. there’s serial rapists/killers in the US who are mainly white but I don’t blame all white folks for ted bundy and rodney alcala .. yes more pressure on the justice system for repeat offenders, better social welfare for north korean refugees, better mental healthcare support for all koreans would be more beneficial for korean society .. but it won’t stop sicko perverts from killing in the future though just like in the US ..

      • Jang

        Just because it’s “bullshit” doesn’t mean it ain’t real or isn’t there in this case.

        • dk2020

          so do you really think the killer knew this prostitute was north korean and all that? really? I think she refused to do anal and the custy went nuts .. prostitutes and homeless people are on the fringes of society so they more susceptible to getting killed in the streets .. happens all the time in rough neighborhoods anywhere ..

          • Matthias Lehmann

            And what keeps sex workers at the fringes of society? Bad laws.

          • dk2020

            I wouldn’t hold your breath for prostitution to become legalized in South Korea anytime soon .. you gotta be realistic ..


          • Matthias Lehmann

            It won’t happen over night, that’s for sure, but those things never do. However, the UN already supports the decriminalisation of consensual adult sex work as criminalising it seriously hampers the fight against HIV/AIDS.

            “I urge all countries to remove punitive laws, policies and practices
            that hamper the AIDS response. Successful AIDS responses do
            not punish people: they protect them. We must ensure that AIDS
            responses are based on evidence, not ideology, and reach those most in need and most affected.”

            Know who said that? UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

            And as you may know, the Anti-Sex Trade Law is currently undergoing a constitutional review…


            …and a former police commissioner that was once leading the crackdowns on red light districts now calls for a regulatory model.


            At least a change from the Korean law model to the Swedish model is in the cards, even though that still wouldn’t effectively protect sex workers. The Swedish model would do nothing to protect sex workers from violence of clients as it only drives sex work further underground, but at the very least, it might reduce some of the violence and harassment sex workers experience at the hands of the police.

  • commander

    One of crucial issues involving North Korean defections to South Korea is that such inflow might be taken advantage of by North Korean spy agencies.

    Pyongyang would prefer overland infiltration into the South over risky sneaking in by sea, meaning its operatives might pose as defectors for entry into the South.

    Although the accurate estimate of North Korean spies here has yet to be made, many believes many North Korean agents are active here for intelligence gathering or inducing a division among South Koreans.

    South Korean intelligence agency might be well aware of this possibility, conducting closer scrunity over any North Korean refugees coming over to Seoul to determine whether they are real defectors or disguised spies.

    The inspection means North Korean escapees comes under suspicion the day they enter Seoul, symbolically revealing the shaky unstable status they will have after they have some ground here.

    The more than half century partition only breed mutual doubt and discrimination that will make a smooth integration increasingly hard.

  • x1sfg

    A dead prostitute? Better call Tom Hagen

  • Jang

    The number of female N. Korean defectors(to S. Korea) vastly outnumbers N. Korean males, does anyone know why? You guessed it, so that they can serve/tute themselves out to S. Korean males. Who wants to give a N. Korean man a job? If it were a boy I’m sure S. Koreans would find something for him.

    • chucky3176

      Guess what? You keep speaking as if you even know half the shit you spew here. I probably be wasting my time with you but I’m going to reply to you for the benefit of others. It’s much easier for North Korean women to make in China, than the North Korean men. Because at least ninety five percent of those North Korean women were sold to Chinese dealers who sell these women off to poor Chinese farmers or to brothels in Chinese cities. The smuggling of North Korean women is such an extensive program, that as soon as these women cross the North Korean/Chinese border, these women trade dealers are waiting for them across the Chinese border. The North Korean women are promised a lot of things, they end up believing their captors and get sold off in the end. The lucky ones are the ones who manage to escape and get rescued by South Korean Christian underground movements who smuggle these women out of China. There are tons of documentaries that chronicle the plight of these women at Youtubes, why don’t you go take a look there once and while, instead of jacking off to your usual maturbatory fantasies? Asshole.

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  • Jimmy Hoffa

    “Civilization” It turns us all into small unimportant cogs in a large impersonal machine that grinds people up and spits them out. We use to know how to live in the world and not destroy it, and each other.

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