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He Calls Himself ‘North Korea’s Poet Laureate.’ Two Girls Name Him a Rapist

SEOUL, South Korea — ​He has lectured in European universities and appeared on the quilt of a ​British ​journal​. His e-book was translated right into a dozen languages. He was as soon as a visitor on CNN.

Jang Jin-sung is among the most internationally acknowledged defectors from North Korea. His ​​2014 memoir, “Expensive Chief,” enthralled readers with what he stated have been firsthand descriptions of a non-public occasion held by Kim Jong-il, the previous North Korean chief, and claims of what it was wish to be one of many few “poet laureates” chosen to write down propaganda​ ​about ​​the Kim ​household.

However two ladies say his heroic story of escape from the authoritarian nation masked a secret. Each have accused Mr. Jang of raping them in South Korea after he defected, and so they stated that he had used his movie star standing to prey on them.

One lady, a North Korean defector, has filed a lawsuit accusing each Mr. Jang and considered one of his associates of rape and different intercourse crimes. The opposite lady got here ahead with allegations this week in interviews with The New York Instances and different media shops in South Korea. She has not filed a proper criticism with the police in opposition to Mr. Jang, and stated her foremost intention was to point out solidarity with the opposite lady.

Mr. Jang, 49, has denied the allegations and stated he had by no means raped the North Korean defector and that his relationship with the second lady had been consensual. The affiliate has additionally denied the allegations and has countersued the North Korean lady for defamation. Mr. Jang has threatened to countersue her as effectively, and has already sued the tv firm that first reported on her allegations in opposition to him.

That case is now going by way of the court docket. The 2 lawsuits filed by the North Korean lady are below investigation by the police, which can then determine whether or not to prosecute. The authorities are additionally wanting into the countersuit by Mr. Jang’s affiliate.

A sequence of outstanding South Korean males have been convicted of sexual assault lately because the nation’s #MeToo motion started taking root. It has helped expose what specialists see as a pervasiveness of sexual exploitation throughout the nation. The risks will be particularly pronounced amongst North Korea ladies who, due to their circumstances as defectors, might discover themselves with little recourse.

In 2016, Mr. Jang ran a web site in South Korea referred to as New Focus Worldwide, which specialised in North Korea information. That yr, he proposed an interview with Sung Sel-hyang, a little-known defector from North Korea who ​ran an internet store for kids’s garments​ whereas attending a school in Seoul​.

Ms. Sung stated she felt each stunned and grateful for the eye. However she stated that she was by no means featured on Mr. Jang’s web site.

As an alternative Ms. Sung claims in a lawsuit that when she first met Mr. Jang in 2016, he received her drunk and requested his South Korean affiliate to take her dwelling. Ms. Sung alleges the person took her to his personal house and raped her.

In a separate lawsuit, Ms. Sung stated that Mr. Jang raped her in a Seoul lodge room a month later. In line with the authorized filings, when she tried to withstand, he used a photograph of her bare in mattress that had been taken by Mr. Jang’s affiliate with out her information, and threatened to add the picture on her college’s web site.

Ms. Sung stated within the authorized filings that Mr. Jang continued to make use of the photograph as blackmail and raped her three extra occasions over the course of some months. He additionally supplied her to 2 South Korean males whose friendship or monetary help he had cultivated, in line with her swimsuit.

“I felt ashamed ​by what had occurred to me ​and I believed nobody would help me​,” Ms. Sung, 32, stated in an interview. “To me he was such a strong determine that I believed I might don’t have any probability preventing him​.”

She had contact with Mr. Jang all through the years, however determined to come back ahead final month in a tv look on the South Korean TV station MBC. After that, she filed swimsuit in opposition to each Mr. Jang and his affiliate, prompting the police to open a proper investigation.

MBC was the primary to broadcast the accusations in opposition to Mr. Jang. He has since posted statements on Fb and YouTube vehemently denying the claims and challenged “any feminine North Korean defectors to report me to the police if I sexually assaulted them.”

A local South Korean lady, Kang Haeryun, ​32, spoke out this week and stated that Mr. Jang had raped her whereas she labored as an editor for his web site in 2014.

“I’ve tried to suppress my traumatic reminiscences ​for six years, however I made a decision to ​come out and render solidarity ​to Sung Sel-hyang as a result of we survivors of rape should struggle collectively,” stated Ms. Kang in an interview. ​

Ms. Kang stated the alleged raped occurred on the house of considered one of Mr. Kang’s mates ​on Nov. 18, 2014, roughly two years earlier than the #MeToo motion started in South Korea. She confided in two mates about what occurred shortly afterward, she stated. The 2 mates confirmed in interviews with The Instances that she did.

“She stated he got here on prime of her and he or she stated ‘​no’ however he proceeded,” stated Hahna Yoon, one of many mates. “I stated that’s rape. ”​ One other buddy, Kim Hyeon-kyeong, stated that Ms. Kang informed her that Mr. Jang had sexually attacked her, and that she left her job due to it.

Ms. Kang stated it had taken her years to appreciate she was a sufferer, and that she by no means went to the police as a result of she initially felt powerless within the face of Mr. Jang’s fame and later lived in self-hatred.

Mr. Jang denied raping Ms. Kang and stated in an interview that his relationship along with her had been consensual.

Though she doesn’t plan to file a lawsuit in opposition to Mr. Jang due to the probability of a protracted authorized battle, Ms. Kang stated she was prepared to be questioned by the police as a part of their investigation. Her motive for coming ahead in an interview, she stated, was to help Ms. Sung.

Whereas South Korean ladies have pushed to carry sexual predators to account lately, the plight of feminine North Korean defectors been much less public.

About 72 % of the 33,700 North Korean defectors who’ve fled to the South are ladies, in line with authorities information. Many fall prey throughout their perilous journey. Even after they arrive in ​the ​South, they continue to be susceptible to sexual ​violence, particularly from fellow defectors, ​stated​ human rights specialists.

Defectors normally socialize ​inside their very own tightly knit neighborhood, the place victims of sexual violence really feel pressured to maintain silent, stated Jeon Su-mi, a lawyer for feminine defectors who’re victims of intercourse crimes. ​

Celeb male defectors — former high-ranking officers, survivors of North Korean jail camps, authors and activists, amongst them — wield monumental affect on this neighborhood, Ms. Jeon stated. Some use their ​standing to sexually abuse feminine defectors, particularly ​those that have simply arrived.

“I’ve seen these males groping younger feminine defectors ​through the wining and eating within the night and later taking them to motels​ for what they name a ‘second spherical,’” she stated. ​

​Ms. Sung stated her mom died when she was 5​ and that she offered hats available in the market​ till she and her grandmother fled ​North Korea in 2006. Her dream of constructing a brand new life within the South, she stated, became a nightmare after assembly Mr. Jang. She stated she burned herself with cigarettes out of despair.

However Ms. Sung additionally stated businessman launched to her by Mr. Jang final fall had develop into considered one of her largest supporters, that the 2 of them had fallen in love and that he had inspired her choice to come back ahead.

Mr. Jang has accused the person of manipulating Ms. Sung into making false statements, described himself as a “matchmaker” and stated that the allegations in opposition to him have been “a rip-off.”

“It was she who requested me to introduce her to a wealthy South Korean man,” he stated, referring to Ms. Sung. “I’m not a sexual felony.”

Mr. Jang is greatest identified in South Korea for his heart-rending poem, “I Promote My Daughter For 100 Gained,” a couple of North Korean mom looking for a brand new household for her daughter earlier than she dies of most cancers.

Regardless of being one of the crucial well-known North Korean defectors, Mr. Jang has confronted comparatively little public scrutiny over his biography. Within the English model of “Expensive Chief,” for instance, Mr. Jang describes himself as a North Korean “poet laureate,” however fellow defectors have privately doubted for years that he ever held such a title.

This week, Mr. Jang admitted that he by no means had been a North Korean poet laureate, however that his poems had been praised by Kim Jong-il. “I’ve by no means stated with my very own mouth that I used to be a North Korean poet laureate,” he stated, contradicting his personal memoir.

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