Being gay in the DPRK

Published: November 13, 2013

 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 with Ji Min was another young man of marriageable age, who the army had given the task of distributing food, rations and other necessities to the soldiers – a job which could make one quite popular with your fellow soldiers. Furthermore, on the job they were exposed to many unmarried girls, and “some of them were really pretty,” Ji Min recalled.
 
But Ji Min’s friend was not interested in the girls – he was more interested in Ji Min.
 
“He always treated me so nicely,” said Ji Min, who defected from the DPRK in 2005. “I was (very) favored by his effort to get me out of hard training or to give me delicious food. I am wondering why he really did so to me when he ignored all those girls who tried hard to get his attention.”
 
Western readers may not be so perplexed – it’s possible Ji Min was the subject of a homosexual crush.
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