Posted 21 декабря 2021,, 16:57

Published 21 декабря 2021,, 16:57

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:37

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:37

Non-Anesthetic Abortion, Violence, and Hunger: How Women Serve in the North Korean Army

21 декабря 2021, 16:57
The former North Korean national who fled to the West shared details of military service, which is compulsory for women in that country.

The woman, who identified herself as Jennifer Kim, was interviewed by the US Human Rights Committee in North Korea (HRNK), an organization that studies information about the human rights situation in North Korea, according to the Daily Mail.

According to Kim, she was forced to join the military as she had no choice . “If I refused, I would not have been able to become a member of the Workers' Party of Korea”, - the woman explains, - “And if I don’t have the opportunity to join the party, I will be perceived as a problematic person and stigmatized for the rest of my life. This means that you will not be able to find a good job, it will be difficult to get married. What was left for me?"

Kim estimates that 70% of women in the North Korean military are victims of sexual violence or harassment. She was raped by the same political adviser who negotiated with her to join the army. Despite the meager food ration - 3-4 tablespoons of corn a day, due to which women soldiers had periods every six months, Jennifer became pregnant. “After a while, I felt a strange change in my body,” she says. - I told the political adviser about my physical condition. A few days later, he told me to come to the medical office by 10pm. I came, a military surgeon was already waiting for me there. He gave me an abortion without anesthesia. Memories of this haunt me today. Not only do I experience psychological difficulties, but I also cannot have children and do not expect a good marriage. The shame that I experienced then will remain with me forever".

She only had four sanitary pads in her several years of military service, Kim said. Instead of hygiene products, she and other women were given gauze, which was already used for dressing wounds: it was supposed to be washed and reused. They also used leg wraps during menstruation, which they wore instead of socks: “The rough, rough fabric rubbed and irritated the skin. Each step gave me such pain that I cried. " Footcloths were also used for their intended purpose. They were supposed to be washed and reused, but in unheated barracks they did not dry well, so they were worn wet.

The years in the army were associated with hunger. “I counted every grain of corn with my meal to make it last longer,” says Jennifer. Many resorted to theft to survive. One day Jennifer and her friend, too hungry to sleep, stole a few ears of corn from a cornfield: “On the way back, we sat on the road and ate raw corn. There is a lot of delicious food around me now, but nothing beats the raw corn that I ate back then. It was the most delicious food I have ever tasted in my life".

Kim also talked about the punishments she and her friends were subjected to. One, for example, was to dip your hands into icy water and then grab onto a metal pole. The palms were frozen, and they had to be torn from the metal with the meat.

Military service has been compulsory for all North Korean women since 2015. They must serve from the time they leave school until the age of 23.