North Koreans interviewed by Human Rights Watch describe an environment where it is unremarkable for North Korean woman to experience gender-based violence. They said that domestic violence is not punished or checked in any way – but rather regarded by government authorities as a private matter in which the state and outsiders should not intervene. Female interviewees described to Human Rights Watch being subjected to unwanted sexual contact by strangers in crowded public areas such as workplaces, trains, or on trucks on the road, including men touching women and girls’ breasts and hips, and trying to place their hands under women’s clothing. Interviewees said that even when police and other government authorities directly observed this type of assault, they made no attempt to protect women and girls.
Under the rule of Kim Jong-Un, North Korea remains among the world’s most repressive countries. All basic freedoms have been severely restricted under the Kim family’s political dynasty. A 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry found that abuses in North Korea were without parallel in the contemporary world. They include extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions, and other sexual violence. North Korea operates secretive prison camps where perceived opponents of the government are sent to face torture and abuse, starvation rations, and forced labor. Fear of collective punishment is used to silence dissent. There is no independent media, functioning civil society, or religious freedom.