North Korea and Sex…

Why is this topic being discussed on North Korean Economy Watch?

Well, economics is often accused of being an “imperial” science by other disciplines because, broadly defined, economics looks at human choice and the constraints, trade-offs, and incentives under which these choices are made.  This broad definition irritates sociologists, anthropologists, and political scientists because economists are always moving in to explain social phenomenon on their “turf.”  In this light, though, economics does have something to say about sexual social norms because they play a significant role in a significant number of every-day choices that people make, particularly in what are traditionally considered “economic choices”…even in North Korea.

On to the topic…
One would think that in North Korea—where personal associations and loyalties are particularly important and highly regulated—that non-marital sexual encounters would be highly suspicious and discouraged, but a recent article in Radio Free Asia makes the opposite claim:

[W]hen it comes to the privacy of the bedroom, even the all-powerful North Korean Workers’ Party is largely hands-off, according to North Korean defectors.

Intellectuals and artists in the Workers’ Paradise have long espoused a fairly open and liberal set of views around sexual relationships, according to former North Korean artist and defector Lee Yoon Jeong, despite a widespread lack of sex education for young people.

Apparently, pre-, extra-, and post- marital sex is so common that even the Workers Party doesn’t ban it:

Lee said high divorce rates, and the tendency for Party officials to have mistresses and extra-marital affairs, meant that the Party was reticent about dictating to the people about their love lives.

“The Workers’ Party is truly in no position to regulate relationships between men and women,” she told reporter Jinhee Bonny. “The authorities may control everything, but they could never dictate matters of love between North Korean men and women.”

The artcle also makes the claim that prostitution is fairly common now and that illegal abortions are taking place.  If this is the case, then North Korea is only the second communist country I am aware of where abortion is/was technically illegal (the other being Ceauceascu’s Romania).  Does anyone know any differently?

Read the full article here:

Love and Sex in North Korea
Radio Free Asia
Jinhee Bonny
4/18/2008

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  • ffoxis

    It was legal in communist Poland. As well as in the USSR, Bolsheviks legalized it in 1920. Stalin banned it, but after his death it was legalized again.

  • Alan Johnson

    Does it really say all abortion is illegal? Or just that it must be approved, and some pregnant women do not wish to seek such approval.