North Korea, Asia

The status of gay rights in North Korea is unclear due to the country's secrecy regarding its internal affairs. Though homosexuality is not officially criminal in North Korea, the government condemns the practice as a vice caused by the decadence of capitalist society, and denounces Western gay culture as promoting consumerism, classism, and promiscuity. "Violating the rules of collective socialist life" can be punished with up to 2 years imprisonment. It is unclear whether this code of conduct is implemented to punish homosexuals. North Korean defectors claim that homosexuality is simply not discussed in the country, and most have no idea of the existence of such sexual practices until leaving. It is therefore suspected that most North Korean homosexuals are conditioned or coerced into marriage without fully comprehending their feelings.



A North Korean Defector Shares What It’s Like to be Gay in the Pariah State

A man who defected from North Korea has described what it was like to be gay in the hermit kingdom. Jang Yeong-jin crossed the border into China in 1966 and spent more than a year struggling to find his way to South Korea where defectors are treated as refugees. China generally considers defectors to be… Read more »

Chinese tour operators halt travel to North Korea

Amid escalating military tension on the Korean Peninsula, Chinese tour operators have canceled travel packages to North Korea, according to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post. The report said Sunday that state-owned China International Travel Services and International — the biggest tour operators in the country — had halted travel to North Korea. Air… Read more »

North Korea’s only openly gay defector: ‘it’s a weird life’

It wasn’t until he escaped that Jang Yeong-jin even knew the word to describe his sexuality. He talks to Jumin Kim about his new-found identity By North Korean standards Jang Yeong-jin had a normal start in life: he joined the military at 19, completed 10 years of national service and married soon after. But trapped… Read more »

Meet the man who escaped North Korea, learned what homosexuality is, and came out as gay

A gay defector from North Korea has revealed he had no idea what homosexuality was until he left the country. The reclusive Asian country is renowned for its secrecy, warmongering, and the oppressive rule of the Kim dynasty, currently headed by 33-year-old Kim Jong-un, who claims to have cured AIDS and hangovers. Given the country’s… Read more »

North Korean Defector Opens Up About Long-Held Secret: His Homosexuality

Seoul, South Korea — When the North Korean defector Jang Yeong-jin arrived in South Korea in 1997, officials debriefed him for five months but still hesitated to release him. They had one crucial question unanswered: Why did Mr. Jang decide to risk crossing the heavily armed border between the two Koreas? “I was too embarrassed… Read more »

What happens to gay people in North Korea?

Defectors reveal what life is like for LGBTI people in the hermit kingdom Are there gay people in North Korea? That was the question posed to four defectors on the NK News website, perhaps prompted by a CCTV photo released last month of two male soldiers kissing upward of the DMZ. All four unidentified defectors… Read more »

And if so, what happens to them when other people find out?

Are there gay people in North Korea?Every week we ask a North Korean your questions, giving you the chance to learn more about the country we know so little about. This week Michael from Phnom Penh asks: I’m just curious as to gay and lesbian life and culture in North Korea. Is there in fact… Read more »

North Korea soldiers spotted sharing gay kiss on CCTV

Netizens worry about the safety of the two men Two North Korean soldiers have been spotted sharing a gay kiss on South Korean CCTV. The images were widely shared on Korean media this week leading netizens to worry for the safety of the two men. ‘I’m pretty sure they’ll be killed if they’re caught,’ one… Read more »

Koreans go gaga over ‘drag queen’ musicals

Recent musicals have included very popular drag queen characters in one of the lead roles, lending to a new trend and successfully drawing out a curious audience. Broadway musicals featuring drag queens are becoming immensely popular among Koreans and setting a trend for the music scene in South Korea. “Recent musicals have included very popular… Read more »

Korea University’s student council bans anti-gay discrimination

Korea University’s student council has revised its rules to ban discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The move Oct 22 came as a response to a series of homophobic incidents such as when this year, a school club welcoming new students who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender had its poster… Read more »

North Korean state news agency abuses UN official for being gay

A North Korean state news agency has resorted to anti-gay abuse of a UN official for criticizing the communist state’s human rights record. The Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) took to attacking Michael Kirby, chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights in North Korea, by calling him a “disgusting old lecher with a… Read more »

North Korea: UN Should Act on Atrocities Report

New Video Shows Horrors of North Korea Through Eyewitness Testimony (Geneva) – A new United Nations report has found that crimes against humanity are occurring in North Korea and calls for an international tribunal to investigate and hold perpetrators to account, Human Rights Watch said today. The report, by a UN Commission of Inquiry appointed… Read more »

Being gay in the DPRK

Overview suggests many North Koreans learn about being gay only upon departure from DPRK Ji Min, like nearly all other young North Korean men, took part in regular compulsory military training. Once a year, professionals from the cities such as him were drafted and sent off to do military service for about two weeks. Working… Read more »

U.N. report highlights ‘unspeakable atrocities’ in North Korea

Hong Kong (CNN) – A mother forced to drown her own baby and a prison camp inmate compelled to eat rodents and lizards just to survive – these are some of the horrific experiences documented by a United Nations inquiry into human rights violations in North Korea. According to the man who headed up the… Read more »

North Korean escapees forced to return home, to rights groups’ concern

Nine young North Korean refugees were forcibly returned to Pyongyang after escaping to Laos. Nine North Korean refugees have been forced to return home after escaping to Laos, drawing protests from human rights groups and concern from the US. The defectors, the oldest aged 23 and the youngest just 15, were arrested in Laos three… Read more »

Living in silence: Gay North Korea

Life inside the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, more commonly known as North Korea, is not generally well understood. The nation is among the most isolated in the world. ‘Reclusive’ only begins to scratch the surface of what one could say about the DPRK’s obsession with secrecy. And because people often fear what they don’t… Read more »

The Maybe-Gay Son of Kim Jong-Il Definitely Won’t Be North Korea’s Next Leader

As the world watches North Korea to see what will unfold next following the death of its “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il, one thing is for certain: The country’s next ruler won’t be Jong-il’s second son, Kim Jong-chul, who the Dear Leader reportedly often boozily bemoaned was too effeminate to lead. Like most things North Korean,… Read more »

North Korea defectors take to the “Underground Railroad”

The 3,000-mile journey can take months and the path is lined with informants. Bangkok, Thailand — In the beginning, they arrived in ones and twos across the Mekong River. They were dirty, skeleton-thin and scared to death. Sugint Dechkul, a small-town lawyer in Thailand’s far-northern Chiang Rai province, had no idea what to make of… Read more »

Gay North Korea News & Reports

  May 20, 2005 A reader recently wrote : I’d like to know something about the gay situation in North Korea. Could you send me an e-mail if you know something? GlobalGayz response: There is such fear and secrecy about many aspects of North Korea that it is difficult to find anything reliable about… Read more »