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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