This Refugee Reveals What It’s Like Being Gay in Militarized North Korea

As U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un rattle their sabres at one another amid threats of nuclear retaliation, it’s easy to characterize North Korea as unstable, but that ignores the United States’ contributions to its threatened, isolationist posture on the world stage as well as the plight of individual North Koreans living under Jon-un’s rule.Take Jang Yeong-jin, for instance. He’s a gay North Korean who defected to South Korea after a lifetime spent closeted in the totalitarian country.In a recent interview with CNN, Yeong-jin admitted that he never loved his wife and felt guilty, confused and ashamed for “ruining” her life. During their time together, he was actually in love with a childhood friend — he and his friend used to hold hands and sleep together in the same bed, something that he says is common in a country where few people have ever heard of homosexuality, let alone understand it.“One day my friend came to see me,” he said. “That night I left my wife’s bed and got into his, my heart was beating so fast as he slept and I couldn’t figure out why I felt so hurt by him.” While attending Pyongyang University, Yeong-jin admitted his same-sex attraction to a neurologist who started yelling at him — frightened, he fled the doctor’s office.While North Korea doesn’t have any laws forbidding homosexuality, it doesn’t have legalized same-sex marriage or explicit LGBTQ non-discrimination protections either. In 2011, the country opposed a United Nations declaration calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality. Furthermore, the state-controlled media forbids positive depictions of LGBTQ people and treats same-sex relations as a Western-imported vice. A vague national law also forbids any acts ”against the socialist lifestyle,” a vaguely worded provision that may have rationalized the execution of two lesbians in 2011.

Source: This Refugee Reveals What It’s Like Being Gay in Militarized North Korea

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