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Daeun Lee, a former lieutenant in the North Korean Army talks about being sexually assaulted by a male major general. (YouTube).

‘Terrible experience’

Former North Korean soldiers describe sexual abuse, starvation and violence at the hands of male superiors

By WITW Staff on August 29, 2017

Tensions are ramping up between North Korea and the United States, but according to one former female soldier of the Hermit Kingdom’s army, a “war will never happen.”

“Kim Jong-un doesn’t know a damn thing when it comes to the military,” Jeong Sil Yeo, a longtime member of the North Korean army, said in an interview with South Korea’s Digitalsoju TV.

The segment also featured an interview with Daeun Lee, who spent nine years in the North Korean military. Both Daeun and Jeong spent several years in the military, rising to the rank of lieutenant and master sergeant, respectively. Both women defected from North Korea, and recently offered a rare glimpse into one of the world’s most isolated nations.

More specifically, Daeun and Jeong spoke about the military, a demanding force in the lives of North Korean citizens. All North Korean women are required to serve in the army for six years, while men must complete 11 years of mandatory service, according to Business Insider. While Yeon described her time in the military as “tough at times” but “worthwhile,” Daeun said “it was just a terrible experience.”

She earned the equivalent of about $2 per month, she said, and was served just three spoonfuls of rice at meals. Daeun also described a horrific experience of sexual assault.

“I was in the early stages of malnutrition,” she said. “The major general was this man who was around 45 years old and I was only 18 years old at the time. But he tried to force himself on me.”

The Major reportedly asked Daeun to remove her clothes so he could inspect her for malnutrition. He then began to hit her so hard that her teeth became loose and blood spurted out of her ear. When he was finished beating Daeun, the major told her that he would make her life unbearable if she told anyone what happened. So she kept silent.

Jeong agreed that high-ranking officials often abused their power over female subordinates. “If there’s someone they’re interested in, they’ll tell them to come by and they’ll hook them up with a new uniform or something nice,” she said. Her claims are similar to another former soldier who defected and, in an interview earlier this year with The Korea Herald, said rape by male superiors was rampant in the North Korean army.

The women have now started new lives in a new country, but the threat of violence still looms. While Jeong is fairly confident that Kim Jong-un’s hostilities with the West will never reach a boiling point, Daeun isn’t so sure.

“Trump is being too aggressive in his rhetoric with talks of crushing North Korea,” she said. “While I don’t think Trump is actually going to start a war, who knows? … To deal with Kim Jong un we need to be really persistent, with constant dialogue and effort.”

Watch the full interview here:

Read more at Business Insider.

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