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, “Dear Leader,” enthralled readers with what he mentioned have been firsthand descriptions of a non-public social gathering held by Kim Jong-il, the previous North Korean chief, and claims of what it was prefer to be one of many few “poet laureates” chosen to jot down propaganda​ ​about ​​the Kim ​household.

However two girls 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 mentioned that he had used his movie star standing to prey on them.

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

Mr. Jang, 49, has denied the allegations and mentioned he had by no means raped the North Korean defector and that his relationship with the second girl had been consensual. The affiliate has additionally denied the allegations and has countersued the North Korean girl for defamation. Mr. Jang has threatened to countersue her as properly, 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 girl are beneath investigation by the police, which is able to then resolve whether or not to prosecute. The authorities are additionally trying into the countersuit by Mr. Jang’s affiliate.

A collection of distinguished South Korean males have been convicted of sexual assault in recent times because the nation’s #MeToo movement started taking root. It has helped expose what specialists see as a pervasiveness of sexual exploitation throughout the nation. The risks could be particularly pronounced amongst North Korea girls who, due to their circumstances as defectors, could discover themselves with little recourse.

In 2016, Mr. Jang ran an internet site in South Korea known 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 youngsters’s garments​ whereas attending a school in Seoul​.

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

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

In a separate lawsuit, Ms. Sung mentioned that Mr. Jang raped her in a Seoul lodge room a month later. In accordance 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 data, and threatened to add the picture on her college’s web site.

Ms. Sung mentioned 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 assist he had cultivated, in keeping with her go well with.

“I felt ashamed ​by what had occurred to me ​and I believed nobody would assist me​,” Ms. Sung, 32, mentioned in an interview. “To me he was such a strong determine that I believed I’d don’t have any likelihood combating 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 go well with 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 Facebook 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 girl, Kang Haeryun, ​32, spoke out this week and mentioned 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 combat collectively,” mentioned Ms. Kang in an interview. ​

Ms. Kang mentioned the alleged rape happened on the house of one in every 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 mentioned. The 2 mates confirmed in interviews with The Occasions that she did.

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

Ms. Kang mentioned it had taken her years to comprehend 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 mentioned 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 mentioned she was prepared to be questioned by the police as a part of their investigation. Her motive for coming ahead in an interview, she mentioned, was to assist Ms. Sung.

Whereas South Korean girls have pushed to carry sexual predators to account in recent times, 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 girls, in keeping with authorities knowledge. Many fall prey throughout their perilous journey. Even after they arrive in ​the ​South, they continue to be weak to sexual ​violence, particularly from fellow defectors, ​mentioned​ human rights specialists.

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

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

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

​Ms. Sung mentioned 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 mentioned, changed into a nightmare after assembly Mr. Jang. She mentioned she burned herself with cigarettes out of despair.

However Ms. Sung additionally mentioned {that a} businessman launched to her by Mr. Jang final fall had grow to be one in every of her largest supporters, that the 2 of them had fallen in love and that he had inspired her determination to come back ahead.

Mr. Jang has accused the person of manipulating Ms. Sung into making false statements, described himself as a “matchmaker” and mentioned 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 mentioned, referring to Ms. Sung. “I’m not a sexual legal.”

Mr. Jang is greatest recognized in South Korea for his heart-rending poem, “I Promote My Daughter For 100 Received,” 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 probably the most 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 mentioned with my very own mouth that I used to be a North Korean poet laureate,” he mentioned, contradicting his personal memoir.

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