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North Korea prepares to observe International Women's Day

The regime's state-controlled newspaper stated its government has ensured gender equality but North Korean women defectors in South Korea have contested this claim.

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea prepares to observe International Women's Day
North Korean women dressed in traditional dresses in Beijing, China. North Korea is set to observe International Women's Day, which is March 8. UPI Photo/Stephen Shaver | License Photo

SEOUL, March 7 (UPI) -- North Korea's state-controlled news daily featured a string of articles and editorials celebrating North Korean women on Saturday.

Yonhap reported North Korea was commemorating its own celebration of International Women's Day, which is Sunday.

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Articles featured the history of women's rights in North Korea.

One piece reminded readers Kim Il Sung, founder of North Korea and grandfather of current leader Kim Jong Un, created the North Korean Women's International Democratic Federation and guaranteed women's equal rights to participate in society.

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The Women's International Democratic Federation is an organization founded in Paris in 1945.

A front-page article referring to current leader Kim Jong Un credited the "great man's unconditional love" for the "respect of women, which serves as the foundation of their lives of happiness founded on gender equality."

The North Korean news source leaned heavily into socialist rhetoric, criticizing "capitalist societies" where "women are forced to buy, sell their bodies like commodities."

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"In North Korea, we let women lead hopeful lives as flowers of the nation," the article read, according to Yonhap.

But in Seoul on Tuesday a panel of North Korean women defectors painted a different picture of women's lives in the secretive state.

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Women working in North Korean military units, said one defector, were often subjected to demands for sexual favors and even forced abortions.

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Another North Korean defector said the poverty within North Korea subjects them to the risk of being abducted and sold into slavery outside North Korea.

One defector, Ahn Hye-kyung, said North Korean women do not receive sex education and are not prepared to cope with unexpected pregnancies.

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