3: Cycle of Oppression: Violations of Human Rights against North Korean Women

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This chapter examines North Korean women’s individual experiences of grave human rights violations, both inside the regime and after they have escaped to China. The first part focuses on women’s narratives of human rights issues in North Korea, such as domestic violence and sexual harassment. The second part explores women defectors’ experiences during their escape, primarily focusing on human trafficking and forced/voluntary marriages to Chinese men. It also presents the harrowing experiences women endured during and after repatriation to North Korean detention centres. The main argument of this chapter is that North Korean women experience a continuous cycle of oppression throughout their lives, both inside and outside North Korea, owing to the intersection of the deep-seated patriarchal structure of North Korea, the absence of freedom of movement, and China’s treatment of North Korean border-crossers as illegal migrants.

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