"We are at the mercy of men": Reports of rape and sexual abuse in North Korea

A former police officer from North Korea, herself a victim of sexual abuse, Heo Jong-hae told CNN that 90% of the women she knew had been sexually assaulted.

She said that one of her friends contemplated suicide after being attacked at age 17.

“She said she cried and wanted to die. Her parents told her to come home before dark to avoid rape but things like this happens in broad daylight. She tried to kill herself. It was worse in Pyongyang where everyone was forced to go to work every day.”

Heo said that in order to advance, many women join the military, but “the officials in charge will demand sexual favors. To join the (worker’s) party, one must comply.”

She added that, in her experience, in the rare event of a case being reported to the police, there is pressure to drop the investigation. “When the perpetrator is an official, even if the case comes to the police, it will be ignored,” she said.