Metro Weekly

Openly gay North Korean defector: I didn’t know what homosexuality was

“I didn’t know until after I arrived here that I was a gay, or even what homosexuality was.”

Credit: J.A. de Roo / Wikimedia
Credit: J.A. de Roo / Wikimedia

Jang Yeong-jin, the only openly gay North Korean defector living in South Korea, speaking with the New York Times.

Jang has written a book, “A Mark of Red Honor,” in which he describes his experience as a gay man in the isolationist North Korea. There, Kim Jong-un’s Communist government mandates a life of “sound mentality and good morals,” which doesn’t acknowledge or allow homosexuality.

“In North Korea, no ordinary people conceptually understand what homosexuality is,” he said. “It was always treated as some strange, vague mental illness afflicting subhumans, only found in the depraved West.”

“There are many homosexuals in North Korea who live a miserable life without even knowing why,” he continued. “What a tragedy it is to live a life without knowing who you are.”

[ninja-inline id=73197]

Leave a Comment:

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!