Tuesday, June 21, 2011

North Korean prostitution feeds families

It has been a growing phenomenon that young women in North Korea have become involved in prostitution to survive.

They do whatever it takes to feed their family, from toiling in a patch of field, to trading, or to becoming a maid. However, there are still days that pass without food. If a woman in such a situation winds up “selling her flower,” a euphemism for selling sex, no one can blame the woman for her immorality.

A woman’s body often becomes a means of survival. The poorer the society, the more unequal is the status of women, and women’s body easily ends up falling into an instrument to provide sex in return for payment. North Korea is no exception.

Pyongyang has become home to restaurants that serve food normally during the day and change to houses of prostitution at night. Officially, the restaurants belong to government establishments, but the real owners of these restaurants are commonly powerful party cadres or wealthy foreign trade officials. 

These establishments are generally frequented by wealthy or powerful men, but judiciary officials are by far the most numerous. Illegal activity would not be possible if not for these officials, and women are instructed to serve them almost on a daily basis. According to one manager of a restaurant in Pyongyang’s Daedong River District, “Most of the young women working at our restaurant are poor and they all want relationships with those who come by the most frequently, the party cadres, businessmen or wealthy men. They all prefer men who they can carry out a long-term stable relationship with, not the men who are just looking for a one-night stand.’

A Pyongyang City Party official interviewed does not pay much attention to government crackdowns. “Once or twice each year, the government conducts crackdowns on prostitution saying it will punish the capitalist elements agitating and polluting society. However, just surviving these crackdowns is all you need to do to walk away scot-free.” 

No comments: